The culture of offense has taken much of the world by storm in the last few years, yet most don’t realize the spirit behind this movement is going to lead to something much greater on down the time line than merely 1 politician making personal attacks against another in a voting year.
On a small scale we have examples in the US of a teenager suspended from school because she said ‘Bless you’ to a class mate who had sneezed. At a school in California 5 students were sent home on May 5, the day Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo, for daring to wear T-shirts with the American flag on them.
On a national scale the culture of offense is very much like fascism. Fascism is the governmental system where people are not allowed to disagree with the government – the government takes offense at someone disagreeing with them. This includes examples of ISIS killing anyone who doesn’t believe as they do, or Turkey prosecuting citizens who utter any opinion on social media construed as anti-government, or wide spread political correctness forced to the citizens as a matter of government policy. From ‘bless you’ to arrests for Facebook posts with a personal opinion expressed, these are elements of the culture of offense.
However, offense begins in the hearts of individuals before it becomes a force in society as a whole, and if it takes up residence in a person’s heart, it forms its own little culture of offense which leads a person to live by their emotions rather than reason, logic, and morals, with the result of the cutting of relationships of those who don’t meet their expectations.
How offense starts
Presumption is the act of putting your expectations on someone else, and then getting offended (hurt feelings) and they can even feel victimized when others don’t meet those expectations.
The offended person can’t measure the situation accurately
They are seeing the situation solely through the eyes of their expectations and how they feel about it, without taking anyone else’s life into account. These people live by opinions formed by their emotions, rather than by opinions and emotions formed by God’s Word.
Point #1 – They only see themselves and their situation (Narcissistic)
Their emotions are on the edge and they form opinions and make decisions on who to have in their life or who to exclude from their life strictly from their emotions. For example, maybe they have a friend of 20 years, but this friend makes them angry one day for something trivial – because they called their friend at an inconvenient time and the friend said so - and they got angry and decided to end the relationship. The culture of offense emotionally decides to throw away a 20 year investment in the friendship – completely illogical! Stinking thinking!
People who live like this start a downward spiral in their life.
Point #2 – They can’t imagine what it is like to be the other person
Living in emotions and culture of offense means they also cannot understand another person’s situation, and have lost sight of the fact their primary goal is to be mature in Christ. In the above example though friends for 20 years, the offended couldn’t understand their friend’s honesty at saying it was an inconvenient time to talk.
They take it as ‘you don’t want me’, so their reaction is disproportionate to the event, and they throw the friendship away. They can’t imagine anything in their friend’s life larger than their need at that moment. Maybe the friend had a baby on the changing table with a poopy diaper, maybe they had visitors, maybe they were in a doctor’s office – doesn’t matter! They are offended because they are unable to understand their friend’s situation at the moment they were in need, in emotional turmoil, so they were offended.
The truth is they love Jesus only to the point He doesn’t ask them to make hard decisions which would lead to growth as a person and a disciple of Jesus. They aren’t really disciples, just believers, for by definition a disciple is ‘a learner’. They stopped learning, they’ve punched their ticket to heaven, now life is too difficult and they are too busy to be bothered with such things as growth in godly character. Such things as getting their eyes off themselves, apologies, humbling oneself and admitting they over-reacted are just too hard on top of everything else. Too bad Jesus, I love you but life is hard and I want to wallow in my hurt.
They only see their need, their life, their crisis. They may offer a polite ‘so what is going on with you?’ but as soon as the person responds, they manage to shift the conversation back to themselves. Sympathy is the emotion felt when someone else is hurting, while empathy is the ability to experience the feelings of others.
A person easily offended can have sympathy for another, but they lack the ability to experience empathy, for that equates to humility, vulnerability, and feeling what others feel. Thus they pull back and shift attention back to themselves.
Point #3 – You can’t talk a person out of offense
Offense is a choice of the emotions, often made as a knee-jerk reaction without any filter or check and balance for those emotions. The mature have learned how to balance emotions by causing them and their thoughts to be submitted to the cross.
Choosing not to be offended is Christ-like while choosing to take offense is a lower-self choice. You can’t talk, negotiate, illustrate, or teach a person out of offense. They are hurt and they want to be – so once you point out the truth, once you apologize, once you try to get them to understand where you’re coming from to no avail, you have to move on. Build a bridge to them to the extent they allow, but their sin and childishness can’t hold you back from you doing what is right in Christ. You answer to Him, not them.
This is where feelings are worn on the sleeve so to speak, for all to see, measuring others by their expectations rather than by what is right and moral and just. People have a hard life and they are stressed, and they wear their tendency to be offended like a porcupine baring its quills at a confrontation. This is the area where people feel a need to always be right, to point out where others are wrong, and they live out of that ‘home base’ for their lives.
It is a horrible, miserable place from which to live, but these same people will say they love God – and that is true in their spirit man. But you can’t talk them out of offense for they won’t let God in their emotions and decision process. They never think “I have to do what Jesus says no matter how I feel” –
Thus internally they are in turmoil and hurting because they know they need to make things right with x person, but they would rather be distracted in their self-justification than humble themselves before the Lord and that person and do what is right. So they push things down inside them, and I’ve seen many, many cases where such sin leads to physical ailments – and they are quick to ask for healing – but it won’t come because their physical ailment started in their offense.
I once had a woman approach the prayer line using a walker and showing me her stiff and bent fingers, asking for healing from arthritis. I was about to lay hands on her and the Lord spoke to me, ‘Tell her to go and forgive her sister, and she will be healed.’ 3 months later I was back in that church and she came walking up to me without any assistance, telling me she obeyed the Lord and went to her sister’s house to make it right between them, and by the time she got home that night she was better, and when she woke up the next morning she was totally healed. Offense can do that and more to a person.
People in offense feign forgiveness, saying “I accept your apology” but then refuse to truly pick up the relationship where they left off, proving their words were hollow, for between 2 willing people, forgiveness results in restoration of the relationship. But you know they remain in offense because they would rather write off a relationship than do what is hard work for them of saying ‘I’m sorry’.
Point #4 – Being offended doesn’t matter to anyone but the person offended
No one cares that x brother or x sister or x church or x company offended and hurt them. Even if a friend did care, they would attempt to get them to deal with the hurt and make things right. Sometimes being offended really doesn’t matter to anyone but the offended. They need to get over themselves and come to Jesus.
The lost art of conversation, that ability to exchange ideas even in a heated manner, yet not turn it into a personal attack, has been largely lost in world-wide culture because of offense. But I’ve run out of room for today and will pick it up there next week.
Until then, blessings,