Saturday, January 18, 2014

Does this offend you?

the words of Jesus

Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves. 54  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55  For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him. 57  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he who feeds on me, he will also live because of me. 58  This is the bread which came down out of heaven—not as our fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread will live forever. John 6:53-58

These were the words the people heard from Jesus. They took offense at his words which prompted Jesus to ask them, Does this offend you? Although this article is not a explanation of the words in that passage it is the reaction of the people of being offended by those words which are the backdrop for this article.

offense and the offended

It’s become common to hear the complaint; - someone has been offended. Just as likely to be heard is that someone might be offended. Individuals and groups identified or described by their political, beliefs, physical or behavioral characteristics are quick to cry foul; that they have been offended. Businesses, institutions, industries are quick to inform everyone of their purposeful intent to avoid offending anyone lest they end up on the wrong side of the profit/loss column.

Offended about what? And, why is it that someone else’s product, words or actions cause offense to you?

The irony abounds. It does not take a sociologist to make this observation. It has become very (yes, very) acceptable, cool, if not tolerable (lest you find yourself as the target of heckling for being uncool) to spit out any and all manner of obscenity in public. It’s the way someone displays their freedom. It’s how somehow else displays their I-don’t-care (seriously understated), It’s how someone else seeks to incite and provoke others to revel in a verbal or physical exchange. Add loudness and alcohol for wider and stronger effect.

making offenses known

Personally, neither my tongue nor my ears are unfamiliar with such garbage. It most definitely does not offend me whether it is directed at me, Jesus or the church. Yes, there are instances of real offense. When a person has made known to others he/she does not wish to be referred to in a certain manner and their wishes are ignored it results in an offense. Yes, offenses are to be made known as a matter of expression and communication to inform those who cause offense, for what it is worth, that they have caused an offense.

a real quagmire

However, here is the real quagmire of inconsistency, contradiction and irony of these alleged offenses. I wonder, why individuals and groups or society in general are quick to cry out they take offense whether at the politics, faith convictions or behavior of ANYone? Surely, they recognize these are expressions of freedom? And, if it were to incite or provoke is this any less than the accepted and tolerance of society concerning freedom of speech?  Businesses are quick to jump at the very idea, the mere possibility that individuals or groups might be offended. They are quick to issue a corporate statement along with all the necessary actions to make clear their solid stance on the correct and right side of the storm. This leads me to a preliminary conclusion about individuals and groups being offended. It may be an easy sell and maybe some people buy it, but I do not buy it.

This is especially true when the alleged offense is caused by the saints in Christ. Where better to toss the alleged offense than into the politically correct bender with this twist: Jesus said to love everyone. Jesus would not say such a thing. Jesus never said such a thing. Jesus would not do such a thing. Jesus did not teach such a thing. Jesus would not offend anyone. The ignorance abounds.

Jesus offends

Briefly, here are a couple of other passages concerning Jesus and some people’s reaction who took offense at his words.

The first time Jesus addressed the gathering in the synagogue: Luke 4:23-28)
The hasty reader may think the listeners were pleased with the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, but nothing could be farther from the truth. They became enraged at what they took as his arrogance to claim he was the fulfillment of the scripture he had just read in their presence. They wasted no time in their efforts to throw him out of the city with intentions to throw him off a cliff.

The disciples pointed out to Jesus that he had offended the Pharisees. (Matthew 15:12)
The Pharisees were offended because Jesus castigated them for dismissing the written commandment of God in favor of their own traditions which they imposed on the people.

Then the disciples came, and said to him,Do you know that the Pharisees were offended, when they heard this saying?

What emerges from these passages is that those who professed to be offended did not like what they heard. Fair enough. That’s understandable. However, it is reasonable to expect that in any relationship or encounter whether between intimate friends, married spouses, mere acquaintances or even strangers which involve a verbal communication the one who claims to be offended could and would provide some explanation for the charge of being offensive to another. Without that explanation the one charged with having been offensive has no recourse, a way to make amends or to explain themselves.

Jesus offended

The gospel writers record an instance when Jesus himself was offended and he stated why he was offended. It occurred when Peter, with what we would probably admire as a noble intention, declares his objection (offense?) to the words just spoken by Jesus about his upcoming suffering, death and resurrection.

 Peter took him aside, and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This will never be done to you.
 Jesus made known the offense in Peter's word which Peter could well have protested for being addressed as Satan.

But he turned, and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.

The reason Jesus took offense at Peter's words was no more than being called a glutton or being born of fornication. The offense was because Peter's words reflected a mind opposed to and not set on the things of God, but on the things of men. (These aspersions about Jesus are recorded in the gospels, I did not make them up.) 


Forget what you may know, have seen or heard or see in those who are in your life and profess to disciples of Jesus. Perhaps you have kept your distance because they have been and are an offense to you. Really? Why and in what sense are they an offense to you? Does Jesus offend you? Is it because he is a liar? Is it because it he is a hypocrite? If in fact, on the other hand, lies and hypocrisy are the sin of that individual you know it is not an offense on your part to point out to them. It is, on the other, their offense against the Holy Spirit. However, if you maintain your distance because you just do not like what you hear and what it means to you in how you are living today then it is the word of God which causes you to take offense.

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