About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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I derive my definition of someone being offended partly from Merriam Webster's online dictionary.  So, if someone is offended, he is inflicted with some kind of mental, emotional, or even physical, discomfort caused by the words or actions of another.         


I live in the province of Ontario, Canada.  The provincial Human Rights Code in Ontario states that a landlord cannot advertise a vacancy for any specific type of person.  If your add reads, "apartment available for students", you violate the code by discriminating against those who aren't students.     


According to the Toronto Star newspaper, a petition was recently submitted to the government over an add that read something like, "looking for a Muslim to rent an apartment".  The petition was rejected by the government official because "supposedly" the petition was beyond the scope of those interpreting the Human Rights Code.  Someone copped out on that one. 


Across Canada there has been, and still are, challenges to human rights legislation.  One Christian has been sued because he publically quoted Jesus as saying, "no man comes to the Father but through me".  Apparently that offended a Muslim man.  I would kindly suggest to this particular Muslim that he "suck it up and don't be so easily offended". 


Muslims aren't the only ones who "feel" offended.  I use the word "feel" because it's usually our "feelings" that get hurt when we're offended.  Christians feel offended at times as well.  I would kindly suggest to the offended Christian that he "suck it up and don't be so easily offended".  It seems to me that this present generation has never heard the old saying, "sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me".  


All that being said, most of us live in a society that still allows us to defend our actions in a court of law or promote our positions in the political arena.  There's nothing Scripturally wrong with that, and, when it comes to Christians, we aren't door mats to be walked on.  I do suggest that Christians who have been unduly treated because of their faith, not base their defense on being offended.  In my thinking, that demonstrates weakness.  Saying, "you offended me" is like saying, "poor me, you hurt my feelings".  That's a pathetic defense.    


I often think of the apostle Paul in reference to these matters.  Paul said many things to whom people took offense.  He acknowledged that the cross of Christ he preached was offensive to many, but that didn't stop him from preaching.(Galatians 5:11)  In response to his preaching, he had many offensive things done to him. Being stoned, imprisoned, and flogged, are serious offenses.  In the midst of it all, Paul never had a "poor me, you hurt my feelings" attitude.  He sucked it up, and continued to serve the Lord no matter the cost, and eventually it did cost him his life.


We learn lots from Paul in this respect.  As he left the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, he headed for Jerusalem, knowing very well he would be arrested for what others believed was an offensive gospel.  Paul looked trouble directly in the face.  He stood his ground without seeking sympathy or pity.  He was like Peter and John when they appeared before the authorities.  After being warned never to preach in Jesus' name again, Peter boldly replied by saying, "judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God". (Acts 4:19) 


Paul eventually arrived in Jerusalem, and as expected, he was arrested. (Acts 21:33)  Paul being the Paul that he was, preached to the by-standers as he was taken away.  He also preached to those who arrested him and to the authorities who interrogated him.  That guy never gave up.  He was either "pig-headed" or full of the Holy Spirit.     


As the whip was ready to rip apart the skin on Paul's shirtless back, he asked, "is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't been found guilty"? (Acts 22:25)  Paul knew his rights.  He wasn't prepared to be whipped illegally.  He was subsequently untied and sent back to the authorities for further questioning, and of course, he preached to the interrogators.  


Paul was given the opportunity to be released from the Roman prison, but he refused.  Calmly, yet boldly, He stood before the court saying, "I am now standing before Caesar's court I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself very well know   I appeal to Caesar"! (Acts 25:10-12)  Paul would not slip out the back door quietly and disappear into the countryside.  His civil rights were violated, so he appealed to the highest court in the known world.  


It's obvious to me that even though Paul was unduly and even illegally treated, he didn't have a "poor me, you hurt my feelings" mentality.  Instead, he viewed all offenses as opportunities to both preach and demonstrate Jesus, the very thing that got him arrested in the first place. 


We struggle over hurt feelings because of minor daily offenses we encounter in life.  How will we deal with serious offenses that Paul experienced?  May we have the same strength, courage, and attitude as Paul.  We might well face a similar scenario as we stand up and speak what is fast becoming an offensive gospel to a progressively secular and pagan world.         

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