An oxymoron is a short phrase that contradicts itself, like “seriously funny,” or “deafening silence” or “government intelligence.” A kingdom example of an oxymoron is “Christian vulnerability”—or, at least, it should be.
- Do your feelings get hurt frequently?
- How do you overcome offense and stop the cycle of becoming offended?
How often are your feelings hurt each week? Do you find yourself offended by the careless or hurtful words of others? Are you holding onto past hurts and traumas that continue to influence your decisions and life perspective to this day?
Christians often find themselves vulnerable on several fronts. Those fronts may include:
- pride (which often gives life to things like criticism, rejection, offence, bitterness, rebellion, etc.),
- the triplets of shame, guilt and condemnation,
- spiritual sloth/passivity,
- generational patterns, and
- curses and assignments.
I’m sure there are more. These listed here often spring up from one another, overlapping and feeding cycles in our lives that are unhealthy and certainly not kingdom. There are vulnerabilities that all persons—saved and unsaved—experience, but there are some (that we in the Church embrace and call normal) that nip and claw at professing Christians long after we said we died and now claim Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Unfortunately, this turns out to be the way that seems right to a person but whose end leads to death (spiritual, emotional, financial, physical or otherwise.) (Proverbs 14:12)
The world says you’re awesome, just the way you are
If you’re troubled, the world would have you believe you may just need more self-care. In fact, we’re inundated with all sorts of messaging to help us become more “self-actualized” these days.
- We’re taught to honor the self-made, self-reliant person.
- We’re told of the importance of building our self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image.
- Our heroes and superheroes are all self-assured and self-sufficient.
- We’re told we need to grow in self-love; that we must develop healthy self-talk as a self-defense to keep ourselves from self-destruction.
Is all our self-interest misplaced?
What does the Bible say about the humanistic self-esteem movement? As I recall, it was self-will that brought about the Fall. Actually, I think the only place where the Bible is “pro-self” would be in reference to self-control as one of the fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Jesus Himself says we are to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24-26)
In fact, if we know God is love (1 John 4:8) and we know we’re made in His image (Genesis 1:27), doesn’t that mean we’re to walk in His seemingly-impossible love, forgiveness and mercy as well? Last time I checked, God sent His Son while we were yet sinners. (John 3:16-) That means if someone betrays, slanders, deceives, cuts off, berates, disrespects or otherwise maligns us, our response is not flesh-driven rebuke or retaliation. Our response is to ask, “What would love do?” and then do that. Love takes no account of its own! (1 Corinthians 13) If freely we have received, freely we are to give and forgive. (Matthew 10:8) We forgive, not just because the Bible tells us we should—that would be religious legalism. We forgive because we’ve been forgiven much! (Ephesians 4:32)
But we’ve grown up in a world that teaches us to “be true to ourselves.” Funny thing though. That’s very similar to, “Do as thou wilt,” which was the mantra of Satanist Aleister Crowley.
Canceling our self-deception
So—when it comes to canceling our self-deception—we actually need less self-confidence, self-esteem and self-love. Our self-worth isn’t worth anything, though we live in a world that teaches it is everything! Our self-perception is always going to be askew until we see ourselves and others as God sees us. In John 15, Jesus says apart from Him we are withered branches ready for the fire. He also says that apart from Him, we can do no good thing. (John 15:5) And yet, when He was called “good teacher” by a rich ruler, Jesus corrected him declaring only the Father was good. (Luke 18:19, Mark 10:18)
God is the straight line to our crooked lines. He doesn’t lose His patience with us. He doesn’t get hurt and wounded when we ignore Him. He doesn’t go into an emotional tail-spin when we lose our senses and our humility and rail at Him from our prayer closet because our spouse snapped at us or because we got passed over for a job promotion or we got rejected or ridiculed one more time.
Jesus was, and is, and forever shall be the fullest expression of love from the Father. Jesus—in the face of anger, contempt, abuse and the greatest injustice this world has ever or will ever see—didn’t lose His identity and was still praying for our forgiveness as we nailed Him up on that Roman cross.
We see the same love in Stephen, when—while being stoned to death—he asked for forgiveness for his persecutors. (Acts 7:54-60)
We see the same love in Paul, when—after also being stoned and left for dead—he would get back up and go back into the same city and resume teaching!
Have you been born-again? Your rights died with you.
What rights do we think we have to harbor hurt, offense and unforgiveness toward another?! In each of these instances, do we see any offense? Was it a response of love or a response of offense? Certainly, the men in these examples would have been justified in defending themselves, but they did not.
Through your baptism and declaration, you have died to your old you; you have died to your past. By all rights, that person has ceased to exist. When you signed on with Christ, you agreed to represent Him and His heart to this lost and dying world. That means you’re His ambassador; His copy. All authority has been given to Him and He’s given you and I, the believers, the great commission to go forth into all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them in all He has taught us. That’s what we’ve said yes to.
Therefore, if we don’t see it in Jesus, we’re not to see it in ourselves. For the believer abiding in the Lord, the days of being offended is over! Jesus wasn’t so offended at our sin that He cut us off and refused to go to the cross. So, being offended by our spouse or our kids or our parents, in-laws, boss, coworkers, friends, neighbors—whomever—that offense in us is to die. Nail it to the cross.
We died, remember?
Just to drive the point home, here are some rights we born-again believers give up when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We have given up:
- The right to be offended, insulted or to hold grudges; we’ve been forgiven much.
- The right to feel rejected, neglected, or abandoned by anyone; we’ve been adopted into the kingdom of God.
- The right to be impatient or to lose our tempers; God has shown us amazing grace and mercy.
- The right to pursue our weakness and temptations; Jesus has overcome the world.
- The right to play small and remain self-focused; we are called to carry the Light of the World (Jesus) to all nations.
- The right to retaliate, enact revenge, or take justice into our own hands; God knows and sees us and He says vengeance is His.
- The right to do what we want, when we want; we’ve been bought with a very high price—the blood of Jesus Christ. We are no longer our own.
- The right to remain in fear, worry or anxiety; how can we remain in darkness now that the Light has come? If our spiritual house is built on sand, when the storms of life come, we probably won’t do well. But if we’re rooted on the rock of Jesus Christ? We’re solid, no matter the power of the storm or the height of the waves.
Stop being offended
At the end of the day, a professing Christian no longer has the right to be offended; not by loved ones, not by strangers on the street. If we find ourselves still offended, it simply means there are places in our lives waiting to be placed upon the Potter’s wheel. In faith, yield to God’s hand in your life. Ask Him to burn away the dross of offense, the root of offense, the spirit of offense. Jesus came to set the captives free and that includes freedom from offense. Spend time in private prayer, worship and fasting and thank God for setting you free from offense. Continue in that way, and soon you’ll find yourself more patient and at peace than you’ve ever been.