Friday, October 15, 2010

We need to get over it

I wrote this a while back so I'm cheating a bit. Still, it's my words and I still stand by them. I thought I would share. Tomorrow I'll try to be less serious. I'll probably talk about what's admirable about Jackass 3D.

Christians have a sadly deserved reputation of getting offended by anything and everything. Someone says something on TV and Christians throw a fit. An artist does something tacky and Christians line up with picket signs. A large corporation gives benefits to everyone and Christians boycott. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing. Moreover, it’s the exact wrong response.

Simply put, being offended is the exact opposite response we’re supposed to have with the world. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and to turn the other cheek. We can’t do these things if we are getting offended by the people Christ calls us to love. It’s one or the other.

The Devil loves it when we get offended. His intention is simple, he wants us to love as little as possible, because lack of love hinders the Gospel. Every time we are offended, we do the Devil’s work. We hinder the Gospel of love. We fail to love our neighbor.

For example, suppose you meet someone who has a negative attitude towards Christians. They say that all Christians are just simple-minded idiots who worship an invisible man in the sky. It’s easy to then get offended by this, puff out our chests, and demand an apology, demand our rights, and storm off.

This is pride. Being offended is nothing more than pride, arrogance, and entitlement, things Christ specifically preached against. We need to abandon the notion that standing up for our egos and bruised feelings is somehow godly. It isn’t. If Jesus offered no resistance when the world put Him on the cross, if He was able to implore God to forgive the people for crucifying him, we should be able to let negative comments roll off our backs. Being offended immediately cuts off an opportunity to respond in love.

Many people have negative attitudes about Christians as a defense mechanism. Some of them may have grown up in church, which sadly is a great way to guarantee they never set foot in a church again. Some have had negative encounters with “loving” Christians: being told that you are an immoral, disgusting heathen bound for Hell tends to leave a negative taste in their mouths. Others are bothered by Christians’ habits of imposing their will on everyone else. These people need love, understanding, and grace, not the usual Christian hissy fit.

There are some who get a thrill by annoying Christians. They say awful things just to get a rise out of us, and we oblige by launching into a frothing rage. If we just let things go and respond in love, it not only foils their scheme, but it demonstrates that Jesus is so wonderful that he teaches us to love those who are offensive.

A larger problem is that Christians get upset at the wrong things. Someone uses God as a swear word, we throw a tantrum. Someone else utters a racist, sexist, or homophobic comment, and we say nothing. We allow hatred as long as it’s not about us. We only stand up for ourselves and don’t stick up for the powerless.

If you want to take a true stand for Christ, it’s not in complaining every time someone uses a dirty word. It’s standing up for the gay coworker getting harassed. It’s standing up for the single mother getting sexually harassed. It’s standing up for the weak, oppressed, and wounded. After all Jesus said that if we just love ourselves and those like us, we are no better than the pagan world. What makes us better, and what makes Christ better, is standing up for those the world hates more than us.

Sometimes it’s standing up for the people that Christianity hates. Sadly, we are a hateful bunch. Not all of us, but enough of us to cause trouble. Christians love ganging up on folks, and right now it’s the gays. We love hating gays and too often Christians look the other way when gays are being assaulted, persecuted, or spoken about in a derogatory way. This is not what Christ called us for, nor is it the example He set.

I’ve heard Christians talking about taking a stand when someone uses the Lord’s name in vain. Usually this refers to people using Jesus Christ or God as a curse word. We get offended and pitch a fit and demand that they don’t do it around our precious ears. We need to get over it. Jesus put up with a lot more insults and He WAS God. If he can take it, we can let it go. Besides, getting offended by that is mostly about us, and we turn it into a point of pride. Pride is the opposite of love.

Taking the Lord’s name in vain is more than just cursing. When Jerry Falwell declared that the September 11th attacks occurred because of feminists, he took the Lord’s name in vain. When Prosperity Gospel preachers tell their congregants to send in all their money so God will bless them, they take the Lord’s name in vain. When we are told that God wants us to vote Republican, that too is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Those offenses are far more serious than simply using God as a swear, because this leads people astray, hurts them, and discourages the Gospel. Too often Christians say nothing, if not aid and abet these sins.

We need to get thicker skin, it’s the only way to love. When an artist dunks a crucifix into a jar of urine, our response should be to roll our eyes and move on. Getting outraged is what he wants, because without such outrage, said “artist” has nothing to show for his “work.” At the end of the day, all he’s got is a jar of pee.

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