Why Do Christians Get Offended Easier than Any Other Group of People?
To get to the answer we have to get into the Word, and then state what people actually do rather than obey the Word, and then we can get down to the core reason Christians are so easily offended and are so willing to cast off relationships in Christ in offense. I think you’ll be surprised at the answer.
We’ve all seen it or been the victim, or maybe even the perpetrator – a Christian known in person, print, TV or cd, believes something or says something that offends a person, and suddenly they are tossed aside with a curled lip like they sniffed a carton of milk that was two weeks past its due date.
Why are Christians so quick to cut people out of their lives? Why do pastors say ‘If you leave our church you (take your choice)…have a demon, open yourself to demons because you have no covering, aren’t in the will of God, some disaster will befall you’ – and therefore people are forbidden to talk to or socialize with them, or even acknowledge them in public?
Why is it alot of non-Christians act more Christian than Christians? I’ve often been amazed how people in their work relationships continue to work around difficult people, putting up with all sorts of jerks for money’s sake day after day. Yet let a brother or sister believe differently than they; an instant severing of any ties!
How much higher in priority and importance are relationships in Christ – based on the blood of Jesus. Yet how lowly we value them…do we have that luxury? The days ahead will reveal the relationships we have in Christ will be the most important things we possess.
Let’s Start at the Beginning
Let’s go back in time to the first century, where we left off last week: A time where some Christians insisted they eat only veggies, some said it is OK to drink wine while others said no, some said Saturday is the day to worship while others said Sunday, some said they should honor the Jewish festivals while others had no interest, and still others ate meat that had been sacrificed to idols, while others wouldn’t think of doing such a thing!
Let’s take Mr. Average Christian of the day and make him of ‘weaker faith’, to quote Paul; How would he react to the meat eater, wine drinker, idol meat eater, and not a Jewish Sabbath or festival observer?
If he lived in our day, he’d feel righteous indignation against his brethren who don’t see God through the same colored glasses as he, and feel right before God in cutting all ties with that person because there is plenty of teaching on the web of others who believe like him. He’d walk away smug in his mind that he had deeper revelation, was more mature, and justified in feeling that person sorely disappointed them. In short, he would cut them off with good reason. Would the Lord agree though?
Conditions for Cutting Ties with Other Christians
“I urge you brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way, that are contrary to the sound teaching you have learned, who serve their own appetites and not the Lord. Keep away from them.” Romans 16:17
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people, not meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and dishonest, or idolaters. You would have to leave this world to do that. I’m writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is in fact sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or dishonest.” I Cor 5: 9-11
Elsewhere Paul speaks of those who draw people away after themselves and the need to confront them thus protecting the flock, gossipers and deceivers who go from house to house (church and house) spreading rumors and division and sowing strife, who need to be confronted and stopped (Acts 20:29, I Timothy 4:7, Titus 1:10-11)
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus, and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and word studies that results in envy, strife, malicious talk, suspicions, and constant friction between people whose minds have been corrupted, and some even robbed of the truth to the point they think that godliness is a means to financial wealth. From such withdraw yourself.” I Timothy 6:3-5
Can You See a Pattern?
There is no place in the Word that says to break off relationships with people because they eat meat and you don’t, or they drink wine and you don’t, or they worship on Sunday and you on Saturday, or you observe the Jewish festivals and you don’t. In those cases, as covered last week, Paul said make allowances and walk in love with each other.
In our day Paul might include there is no reason to break off relationships with others because they go to ‘that church’ or they….hurt me, wounded my pride, didn’t let me talk, I wasn’t appointed committee head, were on the side that voted the new sanctuary carpet would be blue instead of green, doesn’t accept Bishop ____ , doesn’t believe mass prayer in a stadium is going to change the nation, etc.
The Next Layer Down
The next layer down, the layer just atop the core reason – is idolatry. You read correctly. Those who get offended so easily and are quick to separate themselves from others because they get offended, are idolaters. An idol is anything worshipped or held in higher esteem than God. Another way to think of it is something held dear that is placed between you and God.
Think of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time – They esteemed their law and what they thought God wanted more than the actual written Word. They were idolaters. They pulled scriptures out of context, built a series of conclusions based on that incorrect understanding, and valued that higher in their minds than what the OT actually said. They were angry at Jesus for placing the scriptures in original context and intent – fighting to justify their beliefs.
That placing of their pride and their pet doctrines above the balance of the whole Word, was idolatry. It came between them and God. They got to the point they could not function in a group of people who were outside their pet doctrines, thus became islands while surrounded by people – they had no idea how to function in a group setting and in the larger culture around them; separated from society and potential friends.
And now we get to the real core: Their faith was not in God, but in their carefully constructed pet doctrines and ideas of who God was and what they thought He wanted. Anything outside that offended them.
There are Christians who know the Lord, barely, but they’ve never gone beyond getting saved, choosing rather to build a framework of beliefs of who God is and what He wants, thinking knowledge equals maturity (wrong), so amass knowledge in areas of specialty in order to protect themselves from getting hurt by the changes they know God would require for them to be Christ-like.
Their construct of God is safe, familiar, comfortable, and they will rail against anyone who attempts to challenge their carefully built walls of what they believe. Thinking themselves mature, they are actually what Paul said in I Corinthians 3:3 of those who took offense because someone liked Paul’s teaching and others liked Apollos better, and each group was offended at the other – he said they were infants in Christ as they were acting like mere (non-born again) humans as they were in strife.
So…this lays a ground work why Christians use petty, no-real-reason reasons to separate from fellowship. For some, it is easier to be an idolater and not truly know and grow in Christ, than it is to lay aside the baby stage of hiding behind knowledge and truly mature both as people and as people in Christ and a larger community of like-minded believers.
And that’s where we pick it up next week – and how to change a lifestyle of offense to maturity.