To Become Unoffendable
It doesn’t take much to offend these days. We are a generation who can find a nuance in just about anything. Every word spoken is analyzed, every thought written is parsed, every statement given becomes an offense. It can become quite wearying, all this noise.
The political campaign trail is littered with wounded egos. The church doors close on yet another offended member. We can even hear it echoed in our children, “Mom, she doesn’t like the way I rearranged my room.” Really, and that offends you?”
Can we please get over our selves?
It’s been my prayer the last few days: “to become unoffendable.” Our pastor recently read to us a letter he received from a woman expressing this same sentiment and it’s convicting truth has burrowed down deep in my spirit. I want to live in juxposition to this mentality that everyone is out to get me. Likewise, I don’t want to worry that every word I say is going to be sliced and diced. I don’t want to air my annoyance like a grand parade.
I choose joy.
The Art of Overlooking
“A fool shows his annoyance at once but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” Proverbs 12:16
I am afraid we are living in an age of fools. We have lost the art of overlooking. Our political correctness, theological differences, social preferences are costing us our souls. We live in the United States of the Offendable. The evangelical community is as guilty as the next. We disect, dispute, degrade one another at the cost of our unity which Christ so desperately prayed for.
The last words that Christ left to His disciples was actually a prayer of unity. Of all the words He could have chosen to leave them with in His final farewell, He prayed this for them, “I in them and you in me--so that they may be brought to complete unity.” (John 17:23) He knew that it’s our unity that will be the catalyst of drawing an unbelieving world to Christ.
We can have diversity in the body. Unity doesn’t mean we will all be uniform. We may not agree with each other politically, socially, or theologically. But let’s disagree on the basis of a good argument, not dictatorially or with belittling. Where has the art of a good argument gone? As followers of the Christ, we are to try to outdo one another in showing our brothers honor. By this, we show our prudence.
Mind What You Say
In Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Gilead, she writes, “A little too much anger, too often or at the wrong time, can destroy more than you would ever imagine. Above all, mind what you say.”
I find it interesting that in the book of Psalms, written at a time when violence and cruelty were the lay of the land and paganism was in it’s rawest form, that the sin the Psalmist most often mentions is that sin which comes out of the mouth.
Our talk. Our tongue. It is a world of fire.
If my talk reflects the overflow of my heart, which it does, I need to mind what I say. If my heart is offended, then it won’t take long for spewing to come forth. And that spewing is hot lava waiting to devour everything in the wake of it’s path.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “I am inclined to think a Christian would be wise to avoid, where he decently can, any meeting with people who are bullies, lascivious, cruel, dishonest, spiteful and so forth.” And, his warning is not so much that we are too good for this type of people, but that we instead tend to consent with them. We laugh at what they laugh at. We become offended at what they become offended at. We spit forth what they spit forth.
“Silence is a good refuge. People will not notice it nearly so easily as we tend to suppose.”
Mind what you say.
The offendable spew forth offense, spite, and bitterness. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Because that’s the thing about being offended. We don’t tend to keep it to ourselves. We don’t naturally choose silence.
I can choose to be a fool, or I can choose to be prudent. Today I’m choosing to take the path of the wise. To learn the art of overlooking, to become unoffendable. To keep my mouth shut.
It’s not hard to become unoffendable, when I consider the numerous offenses He has graciously overlooked and born on my own account.
And maybe, just maybe, my silence will help in some small way to unify the body of Christ.