In the past I chose to be offended a lot. I didn’t know what motivated me. Over time, I’ve discovered the reasons and grown in being less offended. And let me tell you, being less offended is freedom!
Being offended occurs a lot in our world. And it seems justified. Someone stops attending church because of the sin of Christians. A pastor has an affair. A Christian businessperson swindles people. A Christian who … the examples are endless. The person leaving the church declares, “I don’t want any part of a group filled with hypocrites.” They are offended because their focus is on people, not Jesus.
Jesus, while on earth, dealt with the same reactions in others and was never offended. Not one single time. In John 6:51-66, Jesus refers to feeding on His flesh and drinking His blood. And life coming only through Him. These concepts are strange to everyone hearing Him and seem contrary to the laws of the Torah.
Then this happens:
“When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?… After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” (John 6:60-61, 66).
Though Jesus is completely sinless, His words to the large group of followers has offended them, and they want to leave the “church.”
Yes, they misunderstand what Jesus is talking about (his body, flesh, and blood), but being offended is more than lacking mental understanding.
Taking offense is a defensive protection surrounding the self and the heart—how we feel and regard ourselves and how we want others to think of us. TWEET THAT!!!!
Those in the crowd surrounding Jesus may have been thinking:
I don’t have to look to someone else for life. I’m in charge. You think I’m powerless?
I’m keeping the Law and you’re saying I need something different? You think I’m a bad person?
You’re saying I have to be a cannibal? Eating flesh is crazy. You think I’m crazy?
Of course, these are guesses, but most of the time when we’re offended, we feel there’s a judgment about us. We are “hurt,” which is another way of saying we are insulted, put down. Someone has indicated we’re less than we want to appear. For these “followers,” being offended reveals they are not following Jesus out of pure motives of love and respect. They want life but on their own terms. What He can give them–not Him as the gift.
As many in the crowd leave, they grumble all the way. Yet Jesus is immovable. Jesus’s immovability about his Father’s mission models strength and commitment for all followers and especially His apostles.
Don’t be offended because others are offended.
Jesus is saying to us: “My followers, many will be offended and turn away. Stay immovable in the mission I’ve given you.” Remember:
- Rejection of the message is to be expected.
- You won’t be perfect, but no one is justified in being offended.
- Don’t take personally the responses of others. Stay immovable in knowing I know the truth about you.
- Remember and meditate on the truths I teach you. My message is immovable.
- Spiritual growth is a process. No one will be able to change immediately. Others will struggle, and so will you.
- Growth in knowledge is also a process. Teach and rehearse the basics.
- My Spirit is the one who brings fruit within the mind and heart, not you. You are the vessel.
As the apostles later begin their ministries, Jesus’s example of not being offended will strengthen them.
When you begin to feel offended, how can Jesus’s immovability strengthen you?
(Adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature available in print, Kindle and audio)