17 seconds. That is how long it took for me to find something “offensive” on Facebook from someone I love. It comes much faster from the faceless, nameless, and anonymous. What concerns me is not that we are offensive. Jesus was considered offensive to most and I’m very proud when I can offend the way He did.
My concern is that we are not fighting His battles. With dust fully settled in our own eyes, we fight the battles that do not belong to us, hoping to cure others of their blurred vision. Jesus offended others because He pointed to God. Are you so in tuned with the image of God that the self righteous hate you? Or, is it just that you hold different world views?
Biblical examples are difficult to bring up. They didn’t solve issues by social majority or by social repetition. They compared their issues to the word of God. They compared themselves to the image of God. They compared their leaders to the chosen of God.
I think everyone is able to step back and perform two simple life checks. Paramedics check for pulse and breathing when they approach a body in need. We should do this too. As we approach the hungry, lost, confused, thirsty, homeless, widowed, etc (the people Jesus challenged us to take care of). As we approach them, how much time runs off the clock before we offend them? There is no question to us, that we do love them. But from their battle hardened eyes, what do we reflect to them?
Do they see Jesus? Or do they get a lecture? Do they receive love, or do we yield judgement? You don’t have to change your political or philosophical beliefs. You don’t have to change your vote or which parties you align with. But before you engage, can you check to make sure you are spreading God’s love and the name of Christ to the lost in the world?
Secondly, check which table you are at before you start speaking. There is a table at the far left and there is a table at the far right. They are both full and extremely loud. This is where most of the talking occurs. Talking, blaming, shaming, name calling, yelling. It all comes from these two tables. There is a third table in the middle. Sadly, this one sits empty. No one wants to leave the safety of their own biases and beliefs to meet in the middle.
The middle table is where compromise, communication, and decent business would happen… should anyone dare to meet there. But the fourth table is the one I need you to be at. This is the Father’s table. This one doesn’t look like the left or the right. It doesn’t seek out to solve the issues of the middle either, however noble those may be. Lets call this the high table. This is where we belong. When we speak from the wrong table, we offend for all the wrong reasons. Invite others to the high table. Its not about solving the issues of the right or left. Its about sharing the love of God.
Jesus offended people by pointing to God. If you set out to not offend ANYONE, you will have to compromise the word of God to accomplish that task. It is a fact that we have to accept, that not everyone will receive God. It is our job to try and get that message to them, not to make it palpable. They will discern for themselves whether to accept it or not. Offended or not, we must move on and share with the next.
Two checks that Christians need to make. First, we need to make sure that we speak the truth with love. The truth will offend. We have to accept that. But that leads to the second check. Which battles are we fighting? Our own? Societies? or God’s? That will determine who we offend and how. 17 seconds is all it took when someone I love decided to fight a battle that God hasn’t called us to fight. What message do we give the world when we fight the wrong battles? The world needs a paramedic. Lets give it breath and a pulse by sharing the word of God with love. Lets approach them from the only table that can heal and restore.