I’ve never been more passionate to share about a topic than now. Offense.
Offense is something I didn’t know existed until I started to dive into ministry and actually planted myself at a church. It was then when I realized that offense is a real thing and also a dangerous thing. I want to start out by defining this word because I think that we’ll know how to better dissect the issue when we know what it truly is:
Offense: An injury or wrong done to one.
I’ll give you an example of offense as well:
A volunteer at the church felt ignored by the pastor, as the pastor never spoke to the volunteer. This left the volunteer feeling overlooked, under appreciated and devalued. In this case, the volunteer has offense in his/her heart because she feels she has been done wrong by the main leader in the church.
Now I’m sure many of you already know what offense is, in fact many of you may be dealing with it right now. And maybe you’re dealing with it and you don’t even realize it. Regardless of what state you’re in, I want you to know that offense is attacking the body of Christ right now. Offense desires to come in to divide the body, so that we don’t operate in unity as we are called to. This is what the Bible says about unity in the body.
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT
Oneness. That is what God is asking of us. He wants us to stand at the front line of this battle we are in and be on one accord. We can’t fight the accuser (the enemy) and each other at the same time…we’ll automatically disqualify ourselves and lose. Unfortunately, offense happens and it happens within the body of Christ. I’ve seen broken relationships and friendships within the Christian community.
I have personally encountered what they say is “church hurt” and have been offended by people in the church. I have had people WITHIN the church gossip about me, talk about my worship leading ability and so much more. You wouldn’t believe it. And yes, all these things hurt me to my core.
BUT, by the grace and strength of God, I have been able to LOVE and FORGIVE those same people that have hurt me. Does it still hurt? Uh yes. I’m human. But I have learned (and still learning) to see people the way GOD sees them. This has helped me tremendously. I recognize now that sometimes hurt people hurt people and sometimes you’re just the target. But ultimately, we have to forgive, love, move forward and become more and more like Jesus.
So with that being said, I want to break down to you three practical ways you can overcome offense. I ask that you truly seek the Holy Spirit as you read these truths and be OPEN to what He has to say to you specifically as well. Ready?
- The first way you can overcome or even avoid offense is by asking yourself two questions: why am I offended? And is this truly something I should be offended about? Answer these questions honestly and if you don’t know, ask God to help you in this. He’s a kind, trustworthy friend that can help you in this healing process. It’s important that we get to the root of the issue…the WHY. When I got to the root of WHY I was offended, I was able to heal and be restored. Next, ask, “is this something truly worthy of being offended about?” This question is key because often times we are offended by an assumptions. Much like the example above, the volunteer assumed the pastor overlooked her, but really SHE could have spoke to the pastor and initiated a conversation. Maybe his mind was in a million different places. Maybe he just didn’t mean to not speak to her. We have to grace others; even leaders in the church. Often times, it truly takes examining your own heart FIRST before being “offended” at someone else. So, again, why are you offended and is this something you should be offended about?
- Another way we can dodge the bullet of offense is by remembering that Jesus chose to forgive and so can we. Think about it. Jesus was talked about SO much. The Pharisees mocked him and even threw his name in the dirt. I can’t imagine the pain he faced. But still, even in that face of offense, Jesus chose to love and to forgive. Even on the CROSS, in His most vulnerable state, in the midst of gut wrenching pain, while nails were being pierced into his head Jesus said,
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Luke 23:34 NLT (Seriously, can you imagine this??! They are not only “killing” Jesus here, but they are gambling over his clothes??!)
It’s so easy to get caught up in the pettiness, the drama, etc. even in church. But anytime offense starts to creep into your heart, remember Jesus. Remember your testimony, remember why we’re doing this in the first place. It’s not about cliques within the Christian community, it’s about loving and living for Jesus and being ONE. I know I asked this question earlier: “is it really worth being offended?”, but honesty I’ll answer it for you…NO it’s not. And I mean that in the most loving way. I don’t want to take away from the hurt you’ve experienced, because I know what it feels like to be in pain, but if Jesus loved His enemies, so can you. He will empower you by the power of the Holy Spirit to do so. I promise. There are people to heal, set free and deliver and NO offense or “church hurt” is more important than unity in the body of Christ and winning of souls.
3. The last way that we can overcome offense is by choosing to simply see people the way God sees them. God sees them as their child and He sees them as a beautiful vessel despite their imperfections. It’s easy to see people the way God sees them when you simply ask Him what they look like. He made them so if you struggle to see someone who may have offended in a positive way, just ask God. He will show you.
There has been times in my own life where I had to really pray and ask God to show me what someone is really like on the inside. I began to see how hurt that person was. I began to see how heavy their burdens were. I began to see that they probably are dealing with their own offense, rejection and insecurities and I could be the person to pray for them. It’s easier said than done, but when we love and choose to see people the way God sees them, we can make a greater impact on the Kingdom of God.
I urge you to pray if you are dealing with offense right now. It might take having a serious, mature conversation with that person and releasing it that way. It might take you going to counseling. Or maybe like me, you’re going to have to pray through it and ask Holy Spirit how to heal. Healing can sometimes take time and that’s okay. We are so much better when we deal with our pain than just simply ignoring it. Remember offense is only there to divide and ruin the original purpose God has for us on this Earth. Love, forgive and move forward because life is too short.
So, I pray that this blog helped you. If you want to receive more insight on church hurt or offense, I highly recommend listening to this sermon about emotional healing by Jenn Johnson. It’s SO GOOD. You can listen to it here.
Feel free to comment, ask questions and we can definitely continue this conversation below! I’d love to help anyone who feels stuck in this area.
P.S. I wrote my very first book and it’s all about coming back to the Father. It’s all about coming back to the fundamental truths of who God is and who we are. I’m so passionate about this and I touch on offense in one of the chapters. If you’d like more information about my book, Returning Home. Simply click here.