Should Christians Forfeit the Right to Be Offended?

If you know me at all, you know that a fundamental life motto of mine is this:

“It is your personal decision, 100% of the time, whether to be offended, insulted, disrespected, to let someone hurt your feelings, or to just simply be ready to instantly forgive.”

That’s an epiphany I had shortly after my 35th birthday. So for the past 3 years, I have been living in that knowledge. That nugget of wisdom has only improved the quality of my life and truly has given my freedom from arbitrary burdens I used to carry.

I have also accepted the reality that anything a person believes, in their own mind, is true.

If someone thinks I’m wrong, immoral, ignorant, immature, lazy, unqualified, too serious, too silly, too conservative, too liberal…

They are always right. To them, it is truth. To them, it is reality.

Therefore, it is a waste of my time, energy, and emotions to attempt to prove them wrong in their perception. It is most likely that they have identity protective cognition, so that my attempts to correct their perspective about me will only reinforce what they already believe about me.

I feel this is the example Jesus gave when he was being questioned by Pilate (in Mark, Chapter 15):

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Granted, I believe that often, when one person makes any kind of judgment call regarding another person’s character, there is a good chance that are simply broadcasting their own insecurities or uncertainties about their own identity.

As a human being, I forfeit my right to be offended. I openly invite the free world to call me every name in the book.

Ultimately, only I get to determine whether I am a victim, a villain, or a victor.

It is my opinion, as a Christian, that it is ideal for Christians to forfeit the right to be offended. Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek.

That implies the importance of not only taking the hit, but giving the “offender” the opportunity to strike again.

I see this is a healthy state of being: to be ready at any time to instantly forgive anyone.

Instead of being offended, I say we should use those opportunities to extend grace to the person; whether they are a believer or not.

Who knows? That surprising response of grace could prove to be the simple act of kindness to help minister to the would-be “offender”.

But hey, maybe I’m wrong. And if that’s what you believe, I won’t try to prove otherwise.

Most People, By Default, Choose to Focus on What They Can’t Control (The Illusion of Karma), Instead of What They Can (Their Own Emotions)

It was about three years ago, when I turned 35, that I taught myself one of the most life-changing lessons (and secrets) about the human experience:

That 100% of the time, no matter what anyone else says to me or about me, I always get to decide whether or not I will allow that person to hurt my feelings, insult me, or disrespect me. Similarly, it’s always a choice as to whether I will forgive another person, regardless of what they have done.

Imagine the freedom that I have been able to appreciate these past few years knowing this unspoken nugget of wisdom: That I alone control how I feel in relation to other people… unless I allow them to control me.

That bit of information is one of the greatest gifts I have received in my life so far. If only I could have known this all along!

Contrast that to the illusion that most people live in: Most people, by default, believe this about themselves:

“I’m a good person. Well, I may not be a saint, but at least I’m not an ax murderer.”

This mindset is generically based on the ideologies of Buddhism and Hinduism. Ultimately, people rely on the flaky concept of karma to determine what good things they do deserve in life and what bad things they don’t deserve in life.

Here’s the problem: Karma, in this understanding, doesn’t actually exist.

Children have terminal cancer. Meanwhile, white collar criminals go unpunished their entire lives because they have the luxury of being called politicians.

Most people make themselves constant easy targets to be offended or disrespected because they believe they are moral people who “deserve better”, while they ironically deny the fact that only they alone decide whether another person offends or disrespects them.

Here’s where I’m at in life:

I don’t see myself as a good person or a bad person. I am a person.

I make good decisions and I make bad decisions.

I don’t deserve good and I don’t deserve to escape bad. I ultimately can’t control those things as much as I would like to.

Instead, I can control my own emotions; especially in regards to how I react to other people.

As goofy as it sounds, being a YouTuber and a blogger for the past several years has taught me this:

People in the comments section are constantly hoping to label me as one of the following:

Wrong, ignorant, and/or immoral.

I feel that in the real world, it’s the same way. People are insecure within themselves and haven’t fully figured out their own identity, so they look for people who will get offended, insulted, or allow their feelings to be hurt when it is applied they are wrong, ignorant, and/or immoral.

So imagine the power you have when you are instantly ready to agree with a person like that:

“You’re right: I’m wrong. I’m ignorant. I’m immoral.”

Man, I wish somebody would have taught me this stuff about 30 years ago!

My Christian Faith in a “Social Media Fearing” Society

If I ever ended up on a reality TV show, one where they had me living in a house with people of opposing beliefs and lifestyles and habits, I’m not sure there would be enough drama from me to make the episode controversial enough to be considered modern entertainment.

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There are 2 main reasons for this:

Here’s the 1st reason.

Despite me being concrete on what I believe in and stand for, as my Christian faith is the basis of my existence, my role is not to “convert” anyone who is close-minded to what I believe.

I will gladly share my faith with anyone who I believe is searching for hope; which is what I believe Jesus and His followers demonstrated in the New Testament.

But Jesus didn’t seem to argue with nonbelievers and skeptics.

The people He seemed to really have an issue with were the people of His day who believed they already had their golden ticket into Heaven, but who weren’t willing to truly surrender their hearts to God’s will for their lives; which typically involved simply loving their neighbors as themselves.

(Apparently though, it’s not that simple; otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this today.)

Therefore, I feel I have no business in arguing with a “non-believer” of Christ, the Messiah; whether it’s a person of a different religion, or a skeptic of religion, or someone who simply doesn’t participate in religion whatsoever.

I feel that if my faith is not evident through my attitude and actions, words alone definitely won’t help the situation.

From a secular (and marketing) perspective, what good is a professing Christian on a reality TV show if he or she isn’t willing to argue, lose their cool, and demonstrate the opposite of Jesus’s mentality? The hypocrisy of Christians sells.

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But if a Christian is actually helping others overseas to get access to clean water, that’s apparently not worth prime time advertising dollars.

I feel the media is quick to give pedestals to the most opinionated and argumentative professing Christians, which helps make the rest of us appear as fools.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I fully accept my title as “fool for Christ’s sake,” as the Apostle Paul puts it.

But what if there were more examples of… I guess I could simply say… level-headed, nonjudgmental Christians in the media?

I don’t think America is really accustomed to that.

Here’s the 2nd reason I don’t think I would make for a controversial enough episode in a reality TV show:

I would quickly and openly admit I am not perfect.

There’s a stereotype that Christians are the most judgmental people; that they think they are “holier than thou.”

If I was on a reality TV show, the 1st thing I would proclaim to the other people in the house was that I definitely, absolutely do not believe I am better than anyone else.

I would share with them that my understanding of the Christian faith is not that we are people who think we are perfect.

It’s quite the opposite. I know for a fact I am far from perfect and therefore have no right to judge anyone else. Instead, I depend on God’s grace not only for eternal salvation from my imperfect state of being, but also for constant salvation from my greedy, selfish mindset.

I believe we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. I’m simply in the same depraved state as everyone else.

Our society (on both sides of the fence) places so much value on the morality/immorality of homosexuality, as the controversial topic only further divides America in its own civil culture war.

I remain publicly mute on the topic, because I’d rather focus on the things listed in the Bible that I personally struggle with every day:

Like pride.

And greed.

And gossip.

(Those are items people tend to overlook in the New Testament the moment they see a reference of homosexuality; even when those things are listed together with homosexuality in the same verse.)

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Our society actually places a high value on gossip, in case you haven’t noticed.

What should be a shameful thing is instead worshiped.

Let me be clear: While our society is divided on homosexuality, we love gossip.

In actuality, gossip is condemned in the Bible; the whole way throughout the book.

But it’s easier for us to question the things in the Bible that only some people relate to, like homosexuality… while the more identifiable issues to the mainstream, like pride and greed and gossip, are virtually excused.

So if I was in a reality TV show, my role would be to help other people alongside me. For example, if I was placed in a house with self-proclaimed slobs, I would help them do their dishes every day before I would allow myself to lose my temper with them.

Granted, I would still fear my scenes could be edited to be taken out of context, packaged into bite-size morsels, so convenient to be blasted all over Twitter- making me out to be the judgmental character I most wished to disassociate myself from.

After all, I fear that in some regards, as we live in a time when the Internet has become the modern day Tower of Babel, we have learned to fear social media (and its potential backlash) more than God Himself.

At the same time, isn’t it safe to say that we as a culture even worship social media, as well?

It’s sad, but that concept helps me better understand the concept of both worshiping and fearing God; though at first it seems like a paradox.

In a reality TV show setting, I would consider myself as a “competitor” in a contest, whose agenda was to prove that Christianity is serving others; not judging them.

Christianity is about demonstrating love, by being patient and kind and understanding and forgiving.

If we dumb down Christianity to “heaven or hell” or “traditional marriage or gay marriage” or “Republican or Democrat”, then I feel we’re not talking about the same faith Jesus taught His followers.

It seems that would be a compromised and ultimately misleading version of the very Gospel we are called to share with our “neighbors”…

Now, the question is, would an American audience buy into a concept so revolutionary… that serving others, not judging them, is what faith in Jesus is all about?

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It’s Easier To Ask Forgiveness Than To Ask Permission

May 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm , by 

2 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

You have officially learned to spit. That’s both a good and a dangerous thing.

It’s good because it’s an important part of brushing your teeth. It’s a dangerous thing because I have to trust that you’re not going to spit at an inappropriate time or place.

I guess I make it more alluring for you to want to spit because over the past couple of months, I have taken up the Indian folk remedy of “oil pulling.”

Yes, I know it sounds weird. But two or three times a week on the drive to school, I swish coconut oil around my mouth for 20 minutes (it helps serve as a natural mouthwash and preventative of headaches for me) and then at the Nippers Corner crossing, I spit the coconut oil out my car window.

I always feel bad for whoever’s in the car behind me, especially if it’s a woman. I’m sure they assume I just got sick.

Each morning as you and I are getting ready to leave the house, you always ask me, “You gonna put that stuff in yo’ mouth?”

Watching me do my oil pulling is normal to you by now. However, I don’t think you’re totally clear on when it’s okay to spit.

With that being said, this past weekend on Mother’s Day, when Mommy told you that you couldn’t have a 2nd granola bar, but  instead that you’d have to eat more of the main lunch she prepared for you, you acted like you were about to spit at her.

After I put you in a time-out session providing me with enough time for finish my own lunch, I had you apologize to Mommy:

“I sorry, Mommy.”

You saw how important it was for you to apologize, so then about 10 minutes later, you apologized to Mommyagain.

Within the hour, you had begun using “I sorry, Mommy” as a new way to ask for things.

“I play with Play-Doh? I sorry, Mommy.”

I guess it’s an interesting spin on the saying, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”

 

Love,

Daddy

 

The Difference Between Punishing And Disciplining My Child

August 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm , by 

20 months.

What if we aimed for the same outcome for adults who do us wrong as we do our own kids when we discipline them?

I mean, instead of instantly wishing that a person suffers, what if we honestly hoped to see them restored to decency?

What if instead of wishing for annihilation for our enemies and frenemies, we wished for restoration and positive progress?

If I take away my son’s security blanket/girlfriendor put my son in time-out for no reason, then I am punishing him.

But if I do either of those things after I already warned him against something and he refused to cooperate, then I am simply following through with disciplining him.

To me, that is the difference.

It’s punishment if there is no cause. It’s discipline if it serves a purpose to make my child a better human being.

I’ve said it before: Disciplining a child is a weird thing.

Everyone has their own approach to it that they feel most comfortable with and find to be the most effective. But I’m for certain that no parent disciplines their child in secret hopes of making them suffer indefinitely for their offenses.

Instead, we want our children to mature and become less selfish. We want the best for them. By doing so, we make the world a better place.

So here’s something I think is messed up about us as adults: It’s way too easy for us to want to see other people cursed and suffer when they offend us, rather than them being blessed and enriched.

If someone cuts us off in traffic, they are automatically a jerk who deserves to be flipped off.

No matter how good of a person they may be outside of that single moment. Forget about how hard they work for their family and how they help others out of the goodness of their hearts.

For cutting us off, they become labeled as idiots who have no hope of redemption.

In fact, in that heat of the moment, the thought of that person being redeemed is absurd. It’s natural and easy to generalize them into an evil and moronic imbecile who intends to make your life hell; or at least annoying.

Simply said, we want that person to suffer. Who cares about forgiveness, redemption, or reconciliation.

And then, for all we know, the next day we coincidentally see them at the gas station and they say to us, “Excuse me, but you dropped this.”

They hand to you your debit card which slipped out of your wallet. You thank them; neither of you even aware of the incident the day before.

We discipline our children to help them, not privately wish bad things upon them. Yet we so easily want to judge and punish those who slightly offend us or have the opposite view as we do on a political or parenting issue that doesn’t even personally concern us.

By the way, if you live in Nashville, I’ve probably cut you off before on the road. But only because you seemed to be going slower than you actually were, but I realized it only after I had already pulled out in front of you.

Oops. My bad.

Here’s a quote from my favorite song right now, performed by 10th Avenue North:

“Why do we think that hate’s gonna change their heart?
We’re up in arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
But pride won’t let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not”