Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jesus Was Never Politically Correct

We live in a world filled with the spirit of entitlement. 
That spirit manifests itself in many ways, but none greater than in the realm of "political correctness." 
I believe this is one of the most insidious and dangerous elements to creep into our culture.

This "political correctness" has led to a culture of offense.  We are offended by everything we don't agree with.

Recently in my hometown of Winooski, VT a local restaurant had a sign advertising their establishment and it happened to have the word "bacon" on it.  A Muslim woman complained about it and the restaurant removed the sign.  That created a backlash of such magnitude that the restaurant had to hire a PR person to handle it!!  The whole incident made the national news!

My first reaction was "Seriously?  Are you kidding me?" 
Today that is still my reaction. 
What is wrong when we can be so offended by a word that we need to have someone remove it because it causes us distress? 

Are you offended by the "Stop" sign at each intersection? 
You should be - it interferes with your right to keep driving!
Are you offended by the displays of meat in your local supermarket and the signs indicating the "cut" of meat? 
You should be - it interferes with your decision to be a vegeterian!!

Do these sound ridiculous to you? 
They should - because they are!

If I don't like that a restaurant is serving bacon and chooses to advertise it, then I have every right to choose not to eat there! 
It's that simple!
But my right to not see that sign does not negate your right to see it!
When I see something that offends me, I need to realize that there are lots of others that desire this thing and that I am free to choose to look away and you are free to partake, whether I like what it is or agree with it or not.
When does my right to freedom end and yours begin?

I see and hear lots of things as I live my life every day that I don't like and would rather not see or hear.  I don't like listening to profanity, but often times I am subjected to it because I am in close proximity to someone who is using it.

I don't like seeing the excess skin that I see on a lot of people who choose to wear less clothing then I would deem appropriate, but often times I am subjected to those sights, too.

I realize there is nothing I can do about what you choose to speak, the clothes you choose to wear, or how you choose to conduct your life. 
You have the freedom to choose.
We need to grow up and stop acting like spoiled brats when we can't have everything just the way we want it in this cold, cruel world!
Paul said in Acts 24:16 -
"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men."
This Scripture tells me it's my responsibility to keep my conscience clear of offense - that I can choose to not be offended! 
What a concept!
The word offense in the above Scripture means (in the Greek) to not lead into sin.  So Paul is saying he exercises his conscience to keep it free of anything that would lead him into sinning against God and against men.
When something happens to us, whether it comes through the hands of man or not, we need to examine our conscience and choose to forgive, choose to keep it clear of offense!  We need to choose to walk in the will and obedience of God in our reaction to the offense and to the person/people involved..
Jesus spoke much about offenses in Matthew, chapter 18:6-9
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones (read vs 1-5) which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!  Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Let's look a little closer:
In vs 6, the word offend means to entrap; to trip up; to entice to sin; to cause to stumble.
In vs 7, the word offenses means a snare; cause of sin; occasion to fall; stumblingblock.
And in vs 8 and 9, the word offend means the same as vs 6.
So we see in vs 6, Jesus is saying if you cause someone to sin or cause them to stumble, it's better for you to be drowned in the sea! 
We see from this verse, that just as I am responsible to keep my conscience clear of offense, I am also responsible not to intentionally offend another.
In vs 7, Jesus says that offenses will come, but woe to the man by whom the offense comes!
NIV states it this way: "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin!  Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!
In vs 8 & 9, Jesus is saying that if your hand, foot or eye cause you to sin, cut them off.  If your hand does things that are sinful, if your feet take you to places that cause sin, if your eye sees sinful images, cut them off and out!! 
Strong words!
The Greek root for these words - offense, offend, offenses - is skandalizo; skandalon, which is where we get our word - scandalize.  It means a snare; a trap.
It boils down to this - an offense is a snare or a trap that the enemy of our souls sets to trip us up, to cause us to stumble out of "the way", the way of Jesus.
When we choose to become offended, for any reason, we fall into that trap, that snare and it causes us to stumble.  We choose to camp there and build a whole campsite. It prevents us from walking on in the things of God. This leads to unforgiveness and stops the flow of God's forgiveness washing through our heart and soul.
How many times have you heard of people who left the church because "so-and-so" offended them?  They chose to let the offense turn them back from following God.
When we intentionally choose to offend someone, we are setting a trap and being used as a snare in the hands of the enemy to trip up a brother or sister!
Woe to you, Jesus says!
I think it's important for the church to be aware of these "traps", these "snares" and follow Paul's leading - exercise our consciences; keep them clear of offense. 
Don't let an offense take up residence in your heart. 
Keep short accounts.
Let it go!
Choose to extend grace and mercy.
Choose to give your brother/sister the benefit of the doubt.
And seek to love always.
Seek to let love rule in your heart so you do not become a snare or stumbling block in someone else's life.
We need to live different than the world does.
We are not subject to being "politically correct."
We need to be "Biblically sound."
The only offense we should be is to those who do not believe:
"Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.  To whom coming, as unto a living stone (Jesus), disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and preciouys, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he is precioys: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.  And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:"
I Peter 2:1-9
"As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense: and whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed."
Romans 9:33
See also Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16

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