July 5, 2020
Thou Shall Not Offend?
I am not going to use an opening scripture today because today I want to talk to you about how a Christian should look at what is going on around us especially in our country. I don’t know what kind of thoughts go through your mind when we see the things that we see on the television or hear on the radio because for some of us, we come from different generations. Some of you remember segregation some of us don’t, some of us have seen the civil rights marches and violence of that time firsthand others of us only read about them, some of us grew up in an area where this wasn’t an issue while others here grew up right smack in the middle of it, but our country has grown from those days and many of us thought that things were better and that those days were long behind us even as we continue to grow and maybe are able to put those things to bed and then all of a sudden BAM we are seeing what we are seeing today and it rips the old wound right back open.
But before we talk about this further let me tell you why I chose this message for today. I was confronted on social media about something that I had shared and a friend of mine who is also a Pastor but a Pastor in the black community made the comment that there was a problem with what I had posted and that there was always a problem in the black community with certain things and “we”, meaning white people, maybe just weren’t listening or didn’t want to listen to what they were saying.
He went on to say that some people could look at what I had posted and see racism in it and even evil, to which kind of surprised me because I saw no racism nor evil in what I had posted I just merely posted a question. So this conversation was a little contentious but remained civil.
But it got me thinking about how easy it is for men who are Christians, to get caught up in this fight even though our faith in Christ and our belief in him is what it is so this got me to reflecting about 2 Corinthians 6:3 it’s the scripture that says “We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.” And I admit that I had to rethink the question that I had posted, which got me to thinking about the Gospel itself and how offensive it can be to non believers even as Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:23 stated about it where he has written “but we preach Christ jcrucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” so with all of that rolling around in my head I had to ask, should we then not express truth even if it is offensive to others, do we bridle our speech out of fear that someone will be offended by it? To which I have to say yes and no at the same time because it all comes down to delivery.
As I continued my back and forth with my Pastor friend I was reminded of that very pesky thing called “perspective” and I realized that he and I had two different perspectives and therefore two different realities, he had grown up black in the south and I had grown up white in the north, so not only did we differ in color but in location as well and both lead us to different areas of this thing perspective. Does this fact make me naive, possibly, does it give him a jaded look at the world, possibly, this is something we must both consider.
While my belief was centered in what I had experienced his was also centered in his experience. So where does this take us, what can bridge these two different truths or perspectives to where we can find common ground and common understanding?
Well let me give you the answer by quoting yet another scripture Ephesians 2:14 “14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation” Christ and his teachings and commandments are we find common ground.
Christ knew prejudice well, the prejudice of Romans against Jews and Jews against Romans, the prejudice of Jew against Gentile and Gentile against Jew, the prejudice of Samaritan against Jew and Jew against Samaritan, and even prejudice among the tribes of Israel itself, divisions and prejudices that have long lives and a powers of its own.
But He had come to tear down the walls of these prejudices and therefore he was the answer to all of their troubles in his time as well as our troubles today but it takes both sides to yield to his way and forsake what their perspective and their experience has taught them because now we have been given a divine perspective so that we can share in a new experience.
So this is the lesson that I want to give today because it is the only thing that will bring people together because it takes away the power that prejudice and perspective has, and that message is that when we look at what is going on in the world around us we have to abandon the things that bring turmoil between brothers and sisters in Christ and cling to what we are supposed to hold tightly to in order for us to be children of God.
When we view the things that we see today do we view it with the eyes of lost men and women or the eyes of a child of God? And don’t just give an answer to yourself without thinking about it because I think most of us find that there is a mixture of the two or at least a struggle inside of us for which way we view things. Which eyes we choose to view things through gives us an answer to what we truly, in our hearts hold dear, this world and the things of this world, or Christ and the things of Heaven.
What I am trying to get across is for the person on both sides of an issue there is common ground in Christ, there is peace in that common ground because we yield our own experience and perspective to what is truly important, the word of God.
For those whom have been wronged there is a time to let go of the anger and the indignity of that wrong so that there is room for TRUE forgiveness, and for those that have done the wrong there is a time to come to the realization that they can no longer do wrong because the Body of Christ is called to do no wrong. In the body of Christ there should only be unity, love, forgiveness and humility, there is no past only the future and any grasp we have on vendetta or grudge must be replaced with a grasp on the Gospel which reminds us that if we do not love our brother we cannot love God.
For those whom seem not to understand the depth of pain and mistrust to which some ones experience or perspective goes they must show Godly judgment about when and what to say and how to say it, and if it must be said for the sake of truth do it in love and without a righteous attitude keeping in mind that we as Children of God in no way want to “twist the knife” in that persons pain.
Only when Christians on both sides of an issue abandon their claim to righteousness and cling to Gods righteousness will the body of Christ truly be a united body and we true members of that body.
So this is the answer to how we as Christians are to not only look at, but respond to the world today and the chaos that is in the world.
First off remember that it is Satan who stirs up the trouble and the trouble makers in the world in order to divide that which God desires to be united and there are many in the world on both sides of issues that not only willingly but also fervently wish to add to that division for whatever their reason, but it is Christ who calls us to mercy and understanding and repentance and only in those do we find unity.
Secondly, there is nothing in this world for the Christian except an opportunity to share the Gospel and to show the Characteristics of Christ, and therefore the Father, which include all that is good and Holy, We should be reminded that this world will vanish and with it all that was material and evil and all that will remain is God and who and what is His.
So when we come across the issues and things of this world which have the ability to cause strife remember if there are Christians on both side of the fence both must yield to Christ way and not our own for we are dead to ourselves and only Christ lives through us.