The word ‘offend’ means: to hurt someone’s feelings, or cause resentment, irritation, or anger. When someone offends us we feel insulted, hurt, upset, slighted, snubbed. We especially take offense when what we have to offer is not appreciated, welcome, and sometimes even angrily resisted.
I have to admit that change is hard for me. I want to feel valued and needed in my church family. However, the dynamics of a church family grow and change, just as the dynamics of a biological family changes throughout different seasons of life. Programs and methods that once met needs in the community become outdated. Our message doesn’t change, but as our society changes, the way we reach people needs to adjust. And change.
So what do I do if I feel left out, not invited to participate in the look or sound geared to reaching the next generation? What do I do with the gifts God has given me to use; do they cease to be gifts if they are not the in thing? And what do I do with my hurt feelings?
There's really only two choices:
#1 – I can be offended. I can nurse these feelings by complaining to others. I can hold a grudge, let it affect the purity of my worship, and cease supporting and contributing to the ongoing work of the Church.
#2 – I can talk to Jesus about my feelings and let Him lead me where He wants me to go. I can seek new outlets for using my gifts in ways that will bless others. I can seek a fresh perspective on worship and contribute to unity in the Body. Above all, keep the main thing the main thing: seeking to glorify God in everything I do, proclaim His message, love the family of God, and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in this generation.
On Sunday, my pastor challenged us with this quote: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you won’t always have what you’ve always had.” He reminded us that if we insist on “doing church” they way it’s always been done, our culture will see our message as old fashioned and irrelevant and we will lose the people God has given into our care. And our church will die.
Jesus stirred things up and offended the religious leaders of His day. They were expecting the Messiah to come as a military king and rescue them from human domination. He came as their spiritual King to rescue them from the domination of sin, offering forgiveness to all mankind. He said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matthew 11:2-6, NKJ).
That’s a little convicting. So for me, and any of you who are struggling with changes in your life or church, I offer these words from the Lord from the New Living translation:
Don’t Build Walls: Proverbs 17:19 says - Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who trusts in high walls invites disaster.
Value Unity: Proverbs 18:19 says - An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
Ask God What Is Offensive to Him and Change It: Psalm 139:24 says - Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Let Him Release You From All Offenses : Isaiah 44:22 says – “I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”
Dearest Lord Jesus, instead of asking you to bless what I want to do, help me ask what you want in your church today and to enthusiastically participate in your work. Amen.