It’s happened to most of us. We’re cruising down the street, singing along to Justin Bieber’s sweet new jam when all of the sudden, some imbecile swerves in front of us and cuts us off. Not only does this give our hearts a shock, it usually unleashes a little monster we like to call “road rage.”
Our knuckles whiten, we grit our teeth, we may even let a dirty word fly out of the side of our mouths. We give our horn a long, harsh push or—even worse—we slip up that one finger that tells this reckless renegade exactly what we think of their driving. It’s so easy to lash out since, after all, we don’t know this person. They’re just some anonymous moron drifting in and out of traffic as they please.
This scenario is a classic American experience: we believe we have the right of way, someone compromises that right, and we take offense, often reacting in impulsive, unwise ways. And it doesn’t just happen on the road.
When you think about it, the same thing happens to us all the time in the public square—anywhere, really, where ideas are presented, debated and shared. And on the Internet, particularly, it happens a lot.
As with any large gathering of souls, the Internet consists of many different people from many different upbringings offering up many different opinions and beliefs. And for those of us who are fortunate to live in countries that afford us the freedom to live and believe as we choose, we’re granted the right to choose where our loyalties in religion and politics lie. Those choices aren’t taken lightly nor held loosely, and most of us defend them with our very soul. This being the case, the Internet often disintegrates into a hotspot of disagreement and offense; bursting with arguments, insults and accusations with little or no warning.
We’ve seen it happen recently in discussions of gay marriage, gun laws, abortion, gender roles and more. Someone posts something that offends our beliefs, and a counter is quickly posted elsewhere. It’s as if those attacking our beliefs and opinions are actually attacking us personally, and that’s something we just cannot and will not allow. What once had the supposed potential of a calm discussion soon turns into slurs and insults being tossed back and forth, growing more and more hostile as witnesses enter the fray to defend their friends and own opinions. Names are called, orientations are attacked, and opinions are ransacked—until it all descends into digital chaos. All because someone took offense to an individual’s opinion and acted out.
This begs the question: What right do we have to be offended at someone else’s opinion or beliefs in the first place? We certainly have the right to disagree with another’s stance, but to take a personal affront to the beliefs of another speaks to something else entirely. It’s as if we’ve adopted the type of selfish mindset that expects everyone to shape their every thought and response to what we’ve chosen to believe.
Who are we to assume that our opinions hold more value than those of another? In reality, each of us possesses the equal right to believe as we wish. We may not agree on faith or politics or a million other things, but we can be centered enough to realize that differing opinions are not a call for anger and harsh actions.
Even so, some feel it is their right to incite us to anger—or to be incited to anger themselves. If we’re honest, we sometimes take the stance that our taking offense is a spiritual posture—one of speaking truth, combating lies and championing What Is Right. This may be true or it may not be, but in the words of Paul, if we have not love, we are “nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
These interactions can lead to bruised feelings and angry responses, simply because that’s our first reaction as human. But as Christians who seek to be examples of God, it is our responsibility to turn away from those who would offend and malign us with aimed insults. Is it easier to respond in anger once we’ve been offended? Without question. But because we are called to love this world and to be more through Him, we should not only refuse to engage those who come at us with hate, but choose to look upon them with grace and a loving heart as well.
At the very root of our Christian identity, we are called to love this world as God loves us, and that means without condition. We are to show the kind of love 1 Corinthians 13:5 describes as not rude or irritable nor insistent on its own way. The disagreements aren’t going anywhere. We just have to accept the call of loving the naysayers anyway.
In the end, it’s not easy to respond well to that which offends or hurts us, but if we choose instead to fill our hearts with the love and grace of God, there will be no room for the pain or offense this world brings. Speaking out of offense rarely brings about good things. But speaking out of love—that’s what can move mountains.This post was written by Corey Copeland of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, you can go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/taking-offense-not-part-christian-calling
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
In 1992-1993 we were missionaries in Ecuador. I have worshiped with people from many different cultures and have enjoyed the different ways that Christians engage in worship. I remember one service in Esmeraldas that had a very African flavor to it and another in Guayaquil that was a tropical, Latin mix. I thoroughly enjoyed both and could tell that these were ernest Christians who REALLY enjoyed worship.
On another occasion we went to Riobamba to a church high in the Andes mountains. What I experienced there was quite different. We had traveled there to visit some people from America that were on a work trip to the area and wanted to make some friends. We had eaten supper together with them and the Quechua folk of that church. When we went to worship, we were fortunate to have a teen choir lead us in worship. The worship was more formal and the singing was in a very nasally, high voice. It was in the Quechua language so I had difficulty understanding what they were singing.
I was young, proud and had my wife and kids with me. After the service one of the Americans came over to me and we were talking about the service. I said something about the service that I shouldn't have said. I said, "that music was gross!"
It popped out and I didn't take it back. I was instantly convicted but was too stiff-necked
to listen to God's Holy Spirit's chastening. After all, I was the missionary, they were just people visiting.
I have thought about my bad comment over the years, trying to analyze why I would say something like that. Now, I know that one of the tricks that Satan uses is to keep reminding Christians of their faults and sins to keep them feeling condemned and ineffective. I have been forgiven for my statement and my attitude and when I think about what I said, I still get a twinge of guilt but then I am reminded that was in the past and forgiven.
I recognized that I had in my mind certain ways that I approved of how worship was to be done. This third church, in Riobamba, stretched me and didn't fit my preconceived notions. I was clearly wrong.
I have prayed that the young American that I talked to (I have no recollection who he was) would not remember my insensitivity but the good things of his time in Ecuador.
Now it is 2013 and I am miles aways and 20 years away from that event. I have worshiped in several other cultures and other churches and have come to believe that I have put away such preconceptions. I no longer have the feeling that a certain style of worship is gross. I have matured. I have become more Christlike.
But have I? Have I really progressed?
I was recently at a worship service where we were lead by a worship team that had a decidedly "country" flavor to it. Part way thru this experience, I excused myself. As I walked past the sound booth, a friend asked me, "how do you like the worship team?" I said, "I am not a fan of country music..." I felt instant conviction, very similar to how I felt in Riobamba when I ignored the Holy Spirit. I immediately followed it with, "but I see that others are worshiping and the team is really doing a good job, so I can't complain. I'm trying to worship too."
OK. That was a bit better.
Then I was reminded of a statement, I don't know where I heard it, that says, "If your life is divided up between what you like and don't like and you just do what you like & avoid what you don't like, you're gonna have a miserable existence."
That statement is sooooo true. I close myself up to God's ability to work in my life if I just simply become opinionated about everything and complain/avoid things I don't care for.
So, I'm trying, I'm improving, I'm getting better, my intent is improving, my heart's getting into it....
but I still have a long way to go...Tomorrow,
we will talk a little bit about how to discern when God's Holy Spirit is speaking to you.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Here is a handy guide in how to make your son into a real pain, so that everywhere he goes, nobody wants to be around him:
- Begin from infancy in giving him everything he wants. This way, he will grow up to believe that the world owes him a living.
- When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. It will encourage him to pick up cuter phrase that blow the top off your head later.
- Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he's 21 and let him decide for himself.
- Avoid the use of the word, "wrong." It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him, and he is being persecuted.
- Pick up everything he leaves lying around. His books, shoes, and clothing. Clean up after him when he makes a mess. Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing responsibility onto others.
- Let him read and look at anything he wants. Be careful that his silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized but let his mind feed on garbage.
- Quarrel with your spouse frequently in his presence. Then he won't be shocked when you get a divorce.
- Satisfy his every craving for food, drink and comfort. See that every desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.
- Give him all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you had them?
- Take his side against the neighbors, teachers and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your son.
- When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, "I never could do anything with him!"
If you follow the steps to this handy guide, get ready... You will have a life of grief, and... so will your son, and his son, and his son... "...He punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
We in the United States are in a heated presidential election. When the political temperature rises so does name-calling, character assassination, and confrontation. Even committed Christ-followers, unfortunately, get caught up in the partisan political whirlwind of the moment and join in the fight. We as Christians should seriously engage in the ongoing debate in the political public square, but in doing so we must demonstrate a citizenship seasoned by God’s wisdom and love.
Jesus says, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Over the years, I have watched many Christians zealously become active in partisan politics and actually “lose their souls”; that is, they lose their public, uniquely Christian witness, act contrary to the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and become divisive agents within the church.Biblical Guidelines.
Below are ten biblical guidelines to assist Christians to engage in the upcoming presidential election without “losing their souls.”
1. Don’t equate the biblical kingdom of God with any human political party or nation.
We must maintain the distinctiveness between God’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this world. We must never fuse the two (John18:36; Matt.6:33).
2. Don’t elevate a politician to messianic status.
People often falsely think a politician can single-handedly produce supernatural social results. We have one Lord, and we must resist any attempt to exalt politicians to unrealistic heights (Matt.7:15; 1Pet.3:15).
3. Don’t just vote, but pray for the leaders of all political parties
. Christians can be tempted to bless the politician of their choice, and curse his or her opponent, but remember, we must pray even for our enemies (1Tim.2:1–2; Matt.5:44).
4. Don’t forget that your ultimate security is in the unshakeable kingdom of God.
Many Christians often elevate the outcome of presidential elections to an apocalyptic status. If a particular presidential candidate does not win, we begin to think or act as if the world will end. In so doing, however, we express an unbelief in the active sovereignty of God over human affairs (Heb.12:26–29).
5. Don’t bring the polarization of partisan politics into the family of God.
Every Christian has freedom of conscience before God, and we must guard against allowing political perspectives to divide the church (Rom.16:17; 1Cor.1:11–12).
6. Don’t demonize anyone.
Every person has been created in the image of God, and Christians must not demonize or dehumanize other people, whether we agree with them politically or not (Col.3:8; James4:12).
7. Don’t engage in angry, hostile confrontation.
Present your political convictions through civil debate and rational dialogue instead. Confrontational arguments demonstrate an ugly pride that demeans Jesus Christ (James1:19–20; 2Tim.2:14).
8. Don’t become so intertwined with one political party that you forfeit your independence
. When you do, you lose your right to be heard and to speak and clarify biblical truth to all politicians and political parties (1Tim.3:15; Rom.3:4).
9. Don’t allow yourself to support attempts to divide races, male and female, rich and poor, or young and old
. Partisan politics often divides society into voting blocks, and separates society instead of uniting it. Christians should function as peacemakers and reconcilers in the public square and should resist every temptation to join the game of dividing people for political gain (Matt.5:9; 2Cor.5:18–19).
10. Don’t simply curse the darkness, but constructively engage it.
The cultural and missional mandate of kingdom Christians is not to curse the darkness in our world, but to act as illuminating light and preserving salt. We must share the light of God’s truth and work to maintain the common welfare of our nation by overcoming evil through doing good (Matt.5:13–16).
I am aware that the outcome of the 2008 presidential election could have significant, and even negative, consequences for people’s lives, but we don’t need to worry. In the larger scheme of history, no matter who becomes our next president, God is still King, and He is still in control!This article first appeared in the Viewpoint column of the Christian Research Journal, volume31, number4 (2008). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.orgBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
A Christian friend of mine recently confessed on her Facebook page that she wouldn't be caught dead at Wal-Mart and then went on to make fun of the people that shopped there.
That was bad.
What was "badder" was that several people commented, making further disparaging comments about the people that shop at Wal-Mart.
Their comments really hit me wrong.
I think I know why. I can see myself making the same comments. Okay, maybe not the same comments, but I certainly think them.
I have Christian friends who talk about the "ghetto Target" or the "poor people's Krogers" and they talk about how they would "never" go to "those kinds of places." "Those are dirty places filled with dirty, rude people."
Then I think about the times that I prayed at the "fancy restaurant" and then was rude to the waitstaff.
I have Christian friends who would "never ride the bus" because all of the homeless, poor people who ride the bus. I hear, "I'm scared of those people. I can't stand to be around them. I can smell them before they even get close."
Then I think of times that I have ignored people I don't know and avoid people who are different from me.
As I write this post, I'm having a hard time defining who I am writing this to.
I want to say something to my Christian friends about their behavior.
I want to tell them that Jesus would never act like that.
But I can't say those things.
I have no right.
I'm just as guilty, IF NOT MORE.
LORD, forgive me.
Help me to be more like Jesus.
BE A MAN.
Having accepted a counseling assignment for a year in a South American country, I met an interesting man. In his broken English, he confessed, "I like dirty women."
This man was a gynecologist, very educated and finally coming to the realization that he had a terrible problem. In English, dirty can mean several things. However, in Spanish, he was very clear. He used the word, "sucia." "Sucia" means physically dirty, unwashed. He continued with other clear words, "Indigenas, indias, mujeres sucias..." Translated, those words mean, "indigenous, indians, dirty women..." He was talking about a people group that were indigenous in that area: women from the Quechua people. These people are typically considered lower class by those who don't have indian blood.
Being educated and of Spanish descent, he considered himself to be superior to these people. That was his quandary. "Why do I like dirty women? I'm not attracted to pure blood women." He went on to explain that he would sexually use some of his patients, but only the Quechua women. He felt an attraction to women that he was not supposed to be attracted to, kinda like forbidden fruit. He soothed his conscience by believing that he was only having sex with women who were beneath his station in life. These people were essentially worthless in his mind.
He would trade his gynecological services for sexual favors with his patients. He found that many times, he would not be refused because these women were poor and did not feel good about themselves. "They couldn't say no because no one thinks they are attractive. I flatter them..."
So, you can see this man has a terrible sin problem. Actually, more than one. Just to name a few: 1) prejudice, 2) sexism, 3) racism, 4) elitism, 5) compulsions, 6) fornication, etc... Just plain sinfulness.
As his story unfolded, he also revealed that he was addicted to marijuana, alcohol and painkillers. Being a physician, he had no difficulty affording and obtaining these substances, especially when he would trade his gynecological services for these substances.
He was raised in an environment with a very strong mother and a father who had abandoned him. As we delved further into his upbringing, he noted that he was brought into sex early when his mother paid for a prostitute "to teach him how to be a man" as his father wasn't doing a good job at raising him. He recalled his first sexual encounter at age eight with repeated exposure, at his mother's insistence, until he left for college at age sixteen.
In spite of his medical and financial success, this man knew that he was doomed. "My soul is on the way to hell..." Fortunately, this gentleman was receptive to God's working in his life. He came for help because he had heard that hell was a place that he did not want to go. As I was unable to follow this man due to not being around long enough to help him, I was able to hand him off to a pastor. This pastor told him about God's redemptive power and discipled him. He became very much like Zaccheus. He repented of his sinful behavior and attempted to make restitution as best he could.
This man's story teaches us that we are not doomed by the sins of our parents, doomed because we had a bad upbringing or doomed because we have abused people. There is always room for God's offer of salvation. It is never too late to do the right thing.
Is your life like this man's? Or do you think that he is beneath you?
In what kind of sin do you find yourself involved?
It is never too late to do the right thing. If God can change this man, he can change you.How bout it?BE HOLY.BE A MAN.