Saturday, July 25, 2015

Are YOU Offended?

Matt Walsh
Today it seems everyone is offended by something. If you're not offended, you're not paying attention. Today it seems everyone can be made to be offended by just about anything if it's adequately charged by the media and spun into the right emotional outrage. We are not told just the fact of the matter anymore but we have to be told how we should feel about it too. How we're supposed to feel about various things is somehow shaped by what others have to say about them as well. It seems a growing number of people can no longer think things through on their own and draw their own conclusions. They have to wait to see what Bill O'Reilly, or Oprah, or Glenn Beck, or Al Sharpton has to say about it before they can form an opinion of their own. We are being divided daily by issues surrounding flags, race, gender identity, abortion, guns, moral values, and on and on it goes. Anything that polarizes us. Anything that causes someone to be offended.

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We live in a time when a tweet can get you fired. Even if that tweet was years ago before the issue became a hot topic of public debate. It may have gone unnoticed at the time but it can be dredged up and put up on a stick for all to see so they can point, gasp, and shake their heads, and demand the offender be banished from society.


We live in a time when the same people who are offended by Tim Tebow's acknowledgment of God on the football field embrace and laud Caitlyn Jenner with an ESPY award for courage. Your approval is not requested, it's demanded or else they're offended.


We live in a time when anything someone says or anything someone posts on social media can evoke outrage if it's given enough emotionally charged exposure, long enough and loud enough. It seems that any comment can be twisted into a hurtful and insensitive phrase if it's properly framed by just the right emotions of hurt, anger, pride and entitlement.


As blogger Matt Walsh said recently in his "I'm Offended By This Potato" post on Facebook, "Everything truly is offensive and everyone's feelings are hurt, so stop saying things, thinking things, or otherwise communicating thoughts of any kind to anyone. It's the only way to make sure everyone is safe."


The point is that we now live in a time when not only what we do but what we say and even what we think can be called into question, categorized, and ostracized. Anyone who can garner a big enough voice and invoke the "I'm hurt and offended" card, the rest of us must kowtow and capitulate to it. Turn to Matthew chapter 24.


Now here's the real problem for us. Virtually everything that we do, and say, and teach is counter to societal norms today.  We're on the right side of God's truth but on the wrong side of society. We are rapidly being boxed in from all sides as to what we can publish, voice, write, or post on social media, as a church and as individuals. The time is coming when we will be put in a position where we can no longer preach, teach, or even discuss in an open forum, the real truth of God without penalty. We are quickly approaching that time spoken of by the prophet Amos where there will be a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. (Amos 8:11)


Matt 24:8-10 KJV All these are the beginning of sorrows.  (9)   Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.  (10)  And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
There is a motion being made right now promoting that in the United States we need to identify radical Islamists and extremists in our midsts, to identify them, and remove them from society before they can cause any harm. These religious extremists must be prevented from performing their destructive deeds on the rest of us. They don't believe the things we do. They don't hold the same values as we do. They don't think like we do. They must be stopped and they must be removed from society before they do any more damage. At least that's the approach that's being advocated. I'm not in a position to say one way or another whether we should do this or not but when we start rounding up people for what they might do, or how they think, our own demise is on the horizon.


As Christians who believe in the Bible and take it literally, living God's way of life, we have already been categorized as religious extremists because of the beliefs we hold. We are being hemmed in by the powers that be in this world because we don't hold to the modern views. We don't have the same values as the rest of society. We are behind the times. We are perceived as outside the norm, intolerant, judgmental and we don't belong here anymore. As this perception goes, our beliefs make us unworthy of living in a progressive society, unworthy of holding jobs, we're a political liability to the companies we work for and the organizations to which we belong. Companies and organizations cannot allow themselves to be associated with those who hold such radical beliefs. It might affect their images, their revenues, their profitability, and their shareholder value. This is the political and social climate in which we live. Turn to Luke chapter 21.


The truth has indeed fallen in the streets and we who depart from evil have made ourselves a prey. (Isa 59:14-15) Christ told us the time would come when we will be betrayed by our neighbors, our family members, and even our own brethren. Turned in to the authorities, Homeland Security, because of something we have done, something we said, and for the very thoughts we think that are out of step with everyone else. The groundwork has already be laid. Ever hear of a Homeland Security program called, "If You See Something, Say Something"?


Luke 21:8-19 KJV  And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.  (9)  But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.   (10)  Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:  (11)  And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.  (12)  But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.  (13)  And it shall turn to you for a testimony.  (14)  Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:  (15)  For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.  (16)  And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.  (17)  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.  (18)  But there shall not an hair of your head perish.   (19)  In your patience possess ye your souls.
 
Does this mean we fold our tents, quit and go home? Or do we double-down on our prayer life and Bible study and stand fast for truth and right come what may?


But why would our own brethren betray us? Why would our own brothers and sisters in Christ turn us in to those who would persecute us? Because somewhere along the line they were offended by someone and allowed their hurt feelings to come between them. It doesn't matter what it was or how petty it was, it was allowed to fester into hate for that person. Instead of following the Matthew 18 formula for reconciliation, they continued to hold disdain for that person in their heart.

You know, we have a tendency as human beings to be a bit more understanding when it comes to our own faults and shortcomings. We allow ourselves a bit more latitude when we fall short and chalk it up to circumstances at the time or 'this is where I am in my journey, I'm still learning’. But when it comes to others we tend to be rigid, structured, and less tolerant. We don't afford our brothers and sisters in Christ the same leeway that we give ourselves. We hold them to a higher standard than we do ourselves. We demand mercy when it applies to us but judgment when it applies to others.


Look, we're all on our own journey, learning God's way of life, learning to be more like Christ. None of us is perfect and we're not all at the same place. Some are further along in the process than others. Even those who are further along though are weaker in certain areas than others. We need to hold ourselves to the higher standard and allow others room to grow. Reconcile our differences before they fester. We can't afford to be offended. And I have to tell you, this IS salvational brethren.
Turn to 1 John chapter 3.


It appears times are going to get tougher, a lot tougher. This is the real deal, brethren. The pressures are only going to increase. We need to start looking out for one another even better than we do now. We're all we got. We're all we've got to rely on in this world until Christ comes. We have God, Jesus Christ, and each other.


We need to encourage, edify, exhort, and comfort each other on a daily basis. I would encourage each of us to make a point of calling someone during the week just to talk about what we see going on and what we're going through. Maybe send a text message or quick email. How was their day? How are they holding up? Tell them about the challenges you've been having. If you're struggling, call someone and talk about it. Encourage each other to stand fast in the faith. Let them know they're not alone. We're in this together.

1John 3:10-24 NKJV  In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.  (11)  For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,  (12)  not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous.  (13)   Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.  (14)   We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.  (15)   Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.  (16)  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  (17)  But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  (18)  My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.  (19)   And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.  (20)   For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.  (21)  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.  (22)   And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.  (23)   And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.  (24)   Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
 

Let's love one another. Let's let one another know we care about each other in sincerity and truth. Be genuine. Cut through the pleasantries and open up to each other and not be afraid to show our vulnerabilities. Ask for help if you need it. Offer to help where you can. We're going to live with each other for an eternity. We might as well get to know each other and learn to love one another and not be so easily offended.


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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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