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.

Our Culture Doesn’t Believe in Sin Anymore: It’s Too Politically Incorrect and Judgmental

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t think they weren’t a “good person”. The default seems to be comparing oneself to another person who has committed worse offenses: “Well, at least I’m not an ax murderer…”

My observation is that people subconsciously continually convince themselves they are not “bad” by referring to another person who makes them look like a saint, in comparison.

Clearly, people recognize that good and evil exists in the world. So therefore, there must be good and bad people in the world, as well.

But as Michael Jackson profoundly asked back in his 1987 follow-up to Thriller, Who’s bad?

Christianity differs in ideology from the “I’m a good person” concept that our culture seems to accept as the norm.

Christianity teaches that we were all born with a sinful nature; or as Metallica put it in the title track from their 2016 album, we are “hardwired to self-destruct“.

In other words, none of us, not one, is a good person. Instead, we are all sinners.

Who’s bad? We all are.

We were all born this way. We all have our own sinful instincts to manage.

As individuals, we all have what I call our own “sin personalities”.

Some people struggle with certain issues that other people never do.

So it becomes easy to notice other people’s sins that are different from our own, as a way to make ourselves feel better about our own “lesser” sins.

And that simply brings us to one of the most obvious sins that the Bible warns against:

Pride.

But in today’s culture, to acknowledge sin is becoming perceived as politically incorrect and/or judgmental.

When we start recognizing what specifically constitutes as sin, it makes people feel uncomfortable.

Even adultery, which is included in the Ten Commandments, is now being excused by our culture:

“Well, they were really unhappy in their marriage so…”

To me, sin is sin. I don’t care which particular sin it is: I don’t believe in discriminating against another person or group of people because their sins are different than mine.

Instead, I recognize my own sins. To focus on other people’s sins instead of my own would be that sin I mentioned earlier: Pride.

We were all born this way. We all have our own sinful instincts to manage.

But to deny that sin exists… what does that do to our perception of God?

If sin doesn’t exist, because we’re all good people anyway, then we have no reason to be saved from our own destructive sinful nature; here in this life or what comes after it.

As for me, I’m not a good person. I’m a sinner.

I’m a sinner who is crazy enough to believe that Jesus was the only perfect person to live on this Earth and that by believing in Him, my soul can be saved from God’s judgment.

Yes, that might sound ridiculous. I’ll go ahead and call myself a fool for believing it.

But to believe that I am a good person, simply because my sins are different from other people’s, is more ridiculous to me.

Dear Jack: Tonight was the Night You Prayed to Jesus to Tell Him You Believe in Him

7 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Today has officially become one of the most important days of your life. Just less than an hour ago, you prayed to Jesus, officially telling Him what you’ve been growing to understand and believe for these past couple of years:

That you believe Jesus is God’s son and that He died on the cross for your sins and came back to life to give us eternal life, and to give us hope in this life on Earth in the meantime.

You prayed to God telling him you want to life your life to please Him and help other people.

I will never forget this day. This means so much to me.

Though I knew you have been heading towards to this moment for the past year or so, I had no idea today would be the day. I felt it was important that this was your decision, not mine that I was making for you.

You and I had spent most of the day together, as we made the trip to Nashville to go see the monster trucks at Monster Jam. It was funny because for a nearly hour-long drive, we didn’t say a word to each other.

We just contemplated life and enjoyed the lack of responsibility or conversation, as I played Dierks Bentley’s Riser CD through the stereo. (You had requested Johnny Cash, but my iPod battery was dead.)

But by the time we got to the monster truck show, you came alive. We started talking and enjoying our time together one-on-one.

By the end of the day, I think the fact we had our quality time together as father and son made somewhat of a special impact on you, because you specifically asked me to read to you from your children’s Bible when it was time for bed.

After I read to you the story about how Jesus explained to Nicodemus he must be born again, it led to you asking a series of seemingly random questions about God and Jesus and good people and bad people and what Heaven will be like for people who believe in Jesus and who live their lives for Him.

Then I immediately felt compelled to say to you, “How long have you known and believed that Jesus is God’s son who died for us?”

You just smiled and shrugged, saying, “I’ve just always believed that, haven’t I? Just maybe not when I was a baby…”

Right then, I knelt down at your bed and explained, “The Bible says when we believe, we should say it out loud. I can help you pray that right now if you want me to.”

(I was referring to Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”)

You seemed grateful for the offer. You smiled and said, “Sure!”

So I guided you through a simple prayer and then answered a series of legitimate follow-up questions like, “Do I have to be baptized, though?”

I then explained that it’s the way you officially share with the world what you believe, but that when you are ready, to let me know and I’ll get it all set up with our church.

It’s interesting how you’ve made this decision almost exactly 30 years after I did. For me, it was just a few weeks before Christmas 1987, when I was in 1st grade myself.

This night has instantly become one of the most rewarding moments for me as a parent.

Years of bedtime Bible stories and Sunday mornings at our church and praying before our meals and having unscheduled conversations about God has finally brought us to this fateful point in your life.

Oh, and a monster truck show, too. I guess that somehow set the course of events, as well.

This is your story.

I love you so much.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: My Grandma is in Heaven Now

5 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: My Grandma is in Heaven Now

Dear Jack,

Last weekend, our family traveled to my hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama so that we could attend the visitation and funeral for my Grandma; Delores “Lola” Gonzales Metallo.

Our family most recently visited her just a few of months ago in July, which made the 2nd time she was able to meet Holly.

Then the following month, while you were staying at Nonna and Papa’s house for a week of “summer camp,” you visited Grandma again.

I’m so glad you got to have that one last special visit with her. Nonna sent me this picture of the two of you, which she took with her phone:

“Special visit with Grandma. A sweet bond between a 5 1/2 yr old Great Grandson with his 81 yr old Great-Grandmother. Grandma had an old movie playing on her TV and Jack loved it. Grandma was soooo happy. She loved hearing about Jack but especially the movies he was getting to go see.”

But as of last Thursday morning, at age 81, she passed on to Heaven. No more pain or suffering for her.

One of the first things that came to mind when I heard this was the children’s Bible I read to you each night before you go to bed.

Grandma gave it to me as a Christmas gift in 1988, nearly 30 years ago. In the front of it, she wrote, “With all my love!”

Dear Jack: My Grandma is in Heaven Now

Grandma was known for her love of dogs, her ability to perfectly iron a shirt, her obsession with possible upcoming bad weather, and her fascination with anything Biblical.

She undeniably had a great effect on me developing my faith in Jesus. I think it’s so cool that I get to teach you from the same Bible she gave me.

During the visitation the day before her funeral, I really enjoyed hearing the stories from people who I didn’t know well, but who knew stories about her that I never knew.

It was much more a time of celebration than it was a time of mourning. She lived a long, full life. She got to meet all 4 of her great-grandchildren before she passed, of which your the first.

I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for her influence on my life. She was there every birthday, every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, and every time our family got together; each year of my entire life.

Dear Jack: My Grandma is in Heaven Now

She meant a lot to me, obviously. And I know for a fact that she really loved you a lot.

We will see her again, though. This is not goodbye.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Easter 2016 at The Shell House

5 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack: Easter 2016 at The Shell House

Dear Jack,

This makes our first Easter as a family where we didn’t travel to Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama to celebrate. With Mommy being 8 months pregnant, she isn’t currently able to be in the car for that long of a trip.

Dear Jack: Easter 2016 at The Shell House

I never thought of it until this weekend, but this also made the first Easter for our family where I was responsible for hiding the eggs. So I obviously had fun hiding them in our backyard.

When you discovered your Easter basket, you immediately thanked and hugged Mommy and me.

I responded, “But what about the Easter Bunny?”

You instantly replied, “No, it was you and Mommy.”

I didn’t argue with you. Smart kid you are.

Mommy is such a good gift-giver. She found a very appropriate book for you: I’m a Big Brother.

Plus she got you another owl to match the one you got for Christmas. And she found some dinosaur eggs that dissolve in water and leave behind a dinosaur toy.

I know it sounds random, but she even got you a “bath bomb” for bath time. You love that kind of stuff these days!

Not to mention, there were one dollar bills in some of the eggs, plus a five dollar bill in the golden egg. So thanks to Grandma’s $2 bill she sent in the mail, you are now $14 richer.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HLIZ0AE/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1

As far as candy, we did get you some of the traditional stuff, but you were just as excited about the Annie’s Homegrown snacks in your basket too.

http://www.annies.com/

Another first for this Easter, this made the first time, as a kid, you’ve ever gone to the main church service with us; at The Church at Station Hill. You love your Pre-K class that takes place while Mommy and I are in the main auditorium, but today, all the kids remained with their parents.

http://www.annies.com/

I’m pretty sure you thought it was neat. The story was fresh on your mind as I read the Easter story to you from your children’s Bible yesterday before your nap.

http://www.annies.com/

If nothing else, you got to work on an activity sheet where you had to help Mary through a maze to find the empty tomb of Jesus.

What a great Easter day for our family. And imagine, by next Easter, you’ll have a nearly one year-old baby sister!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Easter 2016 at The Shell House