Something I’ve been criticized for on occasion is being offensive.
Odd, I know, but its true.
I don’t really know why, either.
At least, I didn’t know why.
But its becoming more and more clear to me.
I have had a tendency in the past to rub people the wrong way.
And probably still do to some extent…
Oh, who am I kidding, I’ll have this for a while…
I accept that.
In fact, I’m glad.
Because the gospel is nothing if not offensive.
The idea that we’re telling people they aren’t good enough for God.
The belief that no amount of kind acts or charitable giving or loving words can get people into Heaven.
Of course, these things are true.
It is not by what we do, but by the grace of God that we are saved,
But that doesn’t make them any easier to hear.
We don’t like to be told we’re not good enough for something.
We don’t like to be told that something is wrong with how we do things.
Our pride sets in and we become offended.
Or at least what we perceive to be offended.
Perhaps, at times, this offense could be conviction in hiding?
So, I guess the equasion that I want to propose is that, oftentimes…
OFFENSE = CONVICTION + PRIDE
We become so blinded by our own pride that we don’t want to know the truth.
We don’t want to know something is terribly wrong in how we are doing things.
Because that would mean that we don’t have it all together.
So we settle for the status quo.
We fight the truth.
Because of this pride, we can’t be humble before God and let Him work out our junk.
We keep holding on to our own ideas and our own ways.
Our own, if you will allow me to say it, traditions.
Maybe, too, it is because of this pride that of all these people I’ve offended, I’ve only heard about secondhand.
People have gotten upset over things I have said or written, and talked to others about it.
Even forwarded or emailed my writings to other people, perhaps so they could be offended as well?
I don’t know, it baffles me sometimes.
I guess one example would be that once when I was speaking to the congregation, or “preaching” if you’re that old school.
I’d said something along the lines of not knowing if I belong behind a pulpit.
Now, of course, my meaning was that, knowing I have been called to do ministry, I’m not sure that within the confines of a church is the context in which I’m being led to serve.
So, I got a call several days later from that pastor of this church telling me that several people had questioned him about what I said, and that he didn’t have an answer for them.
I was a bit upset that it was taken the wrong way, but can understand how it could have been.
I think what may have hurt me most is that so many (a number undisclosed to me) people called the pastor about this.
I wish someone would have come to me with this.
That just seems like it would have been better.
Anyway, the point I was trying to get to before chasing a rabbit trail was that we all have prides that need to be held in check.
Pride comes before the fall.
Pride causes divisions.
Pride causes communication failures.
When these conditions occur, our intentions are meaningless.
We cannot minister effectively.
So how, then, do we rid ourselves of such pride?
Lay it down.
Early and often.
I think we’ve gotten out of the habit of that.
But can you imagine the work that could be accomplished if we got back into it?
If we actually did the things we preach about, the things Jesus did and said to do?
What a difference that would make in our lives and the lives of everyone around us if only we would lay down our pride!
Peace and love.