It's the buzzword of our day, it seems - offended. Drop that word, and you can rightfully expect the world to stop for you. You can expect others to bow down and apologize. You can create an entire movement and remove an entire chunk of vocabulary from the dictionary and edit the pages of history itself just by being "offended" by something.
Certainly, "the offended" are one of the toughest groups that we are up against.
But this challenge isn't unique to our day.
This is exactly what we're talking about this week. This is the very thing that we see happening in the New Testament (and sometimes, the Old, as well) - persons who were confident they had everything figured out by creating tiny little boxes consisting entirely of their own self-righteous worldview started dragging these "Christians" before the ruling authorities claiming offense, trusting that everyone else was just as offended as they were.
They did it to Paul. A lot.
They did it to Jesus.
Remember, the ruling authorities kept just kind of shrugging their shoulders saying, "I don't get it." These mobs kept insisting these men were the worst of the worst, absolutely intolerable, deserving of death for the good of society, but the ruling authorities kept just being baffled and saying to one another, and to the people, "I think the mobs are just offended? I think that's what's happening here."
And the mobs kept just screaming, "Listen to him talk! See how offensive it is?" And the rulers just kept shrugging their shoulders like...what is going on? What do you want us to do about someone you merely find offensive?
That's what strikes me as funny in this whole thing. Here, we have the rulers of the majority of the world, and they say things that imply offensiveness isn't that big of a deal. It's just...part of living in a multiethnic world, as far as they're concerned; ideas are going to clash sometimes. Deal with it.
Yet today, we live in a world that will literally stop everything because one person is offended. If you have a voice that can make a big enough noise, you can destroy anything. We can't just let anyone be ignorant any more; say something ignorant, and you're offensive and must be dealt with. We can't just let someone have a different opinion; go against the flow, and you're offensive and must be dealt with. Over and over again, particularly in recent years, we have seen being "offended" tear down some of the most inarguable stories - things no one would have blinked twice at for hundreds or thousands of years are now likely to get you canceled, or worse, because one day, someone decided they were "offensive" and that makes you a threat to the entire fabric of the human race for ever even having the thought, let alone saying the word.
This is how we've ended up with a "Jesus" who is just nice and loving and tolerant and adores everything about this broken world because there's not a place in our culture, we think, for anything at all like truth. That would be offensive.
But that's exactly the point. I mean, that's exactly why Jesus was put to death in the first place. He wasn't violent. He wasn't a threat. He wasn't a drunkard or a lawbreaker.
He was simply offensive.
So was Paul.
So was Silas.
So was Peter.
So was the Gospel.
So it still is today.
That doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing, no matter how much the world shouts at you that it does.
And sometimes - okay, actually, a lot - the world make the claim and then asks you to speak for yourself, and when you do, they just point a finger and say, "See? See? It's offensive." And maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. Maybe it's supposed to be. Maybe it's not.
But it's not new.
And that fact should give us hope.