The renowned award winning actor, Denzel Washington commented on the news the media puts out. Apparently, he was the main character of a fabricated news story about his political interest in the 2016 presidential election. Being interviewed, this time directly, by a news journalist, he made a very clear comment. Putting voice to his thoughts that too often, whether good or bad, news stories are released by some media outlets to quickly appeal to the masses. They shove, to their viewers/listeners, what they think people want to hear, regardless of whether it is authentic or not. Further Mr. Washington asserted that released news stories should be “true”. And, being a follower of Christ, I agree with him. But, it triggered another thought in me, that frankly, The Truth can, and at times must be, offensive. Yet, this kind of offensive that I’m referring to is rewarding, it’s cultivating, it’s freeing; all gained by overlooking an offense.
“A personʼs Wisdom yields Patience; it is to oneʼs Glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11 NIV
The above stated verse is written and often used in the context of one having been wrongly offended, encouraging the reader or hearer to let the offense go, and to forgive the offender. That is an absolute correct usage of the verse, without doubt. However, I would like to open another perspective to you. Let’s start by looking at a few definitions of offense. The typical one we are familiar with is, according to the American Heritage Desk Dictionary: “the act of attacking or assaulting”, whether that be verbally or physically. That kind of offense is not kind, and should be dealt with accordingly. But, there is another among other definitions, that categorizes offense as being; “a violation of a moral or societal code.” In the light this definition shines, let’s learn a little from Jesus why sometimes the Good News needs to be offensive to cast challenges for constructive change.
“As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” Romans 9:33 KJV
The Rock, as you may already know, refers to Jesus, but Him being described as an offence isn’t what you might consider one being “offensive” may be. He isn’t rude. He isn’t insulting. He isn’t physically aggressive. He isn’t insensitive to say things to others that He shouldn’t. Growing in wisdom and stature, after He was gifted to us on that very first Christmas, the Truths Christ taught were so opposite of the world’s that His own people rejected Him, religious leaders hated Him, and politicians sought to take His life. Some truths shake up the status quo. Some peel back the illusion of reality, opening eyes to a light that at first hurts so much, for some, that it’s tempting to ignore it by forcefully keeping their eyes closed. It offends people when the Truth is told that their stepping outside of their marriage for fleeting pleasure is unacceptable. It offends a white collar business person to be told that their deals should not be unequal in weight, favoring their side. It offends a state or national leader that they shouldn’t operate in lies, bribes, & incriminating video tapes. It offends a spiritual leader when told they should practice what they preach. Jesus often included these kinds of teachings, even unafraid to speak Truth to those in power. And, when heard by those who could not let it fly, because the correction “did” apply, they got offended.
Jesus, often times, violated ungodly morals, which are rules or habits of conduct that are not right or beneficial to anyone, in personal, professional, or political arenas. Due to the superficial values and inflated man-made laws that took advantage of people, Jesus presented an upset to the social codes, with new and freeing ways of living life, according to the Kingdom of God. He spoke Truth to the masses, and never backed down from speaking it to those who had riches, fame, power, and titles. Though He told the Truth in love, He had no fear of man. For when you are sent by God and you walk with His Spirit, as Psalm 118:6 ISV says, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can people do to me?”
Even after Jesus’ Crucifixion, with the Apostles carried Jesus’ teachings forward, as every Christian is called to do, and they too faced similar opposing reactions from many. We also need not be afraid, as Matthew 5:10 NIV states, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Embodying the Holy Spirit, we must be cautious not to choose to grieve Him by standing in the face of evil and keeping our mouths shut, enabling what should be disabled, and thus propagating the works of the enemy throughout the various environments in society. I read a quote of an unknown author once that said, and I paraphrase; It’s not that there is an increase of violence in the world, but instead an increase in silence.
Now, let’s not get this twisted! I’m not promoting that we should be the “bad” kind of offensive to each other. Instead though, to offend without offense meaning truth is spoken without breaking down the person because you speak against the problem act, the problem thinking, giving the person a chance to ultimately become part of the solution. As Ephesians 4:29 NIV says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” In order to build up the person or people doing the wrong and to build up those their actions may break down, we must speak the Truth at the risk of being offensive to their worldly way of thinking and behaving. Here’s the flip side to that though… sometimes “YOU” will be the one being offended in this way! Why? Because none of us are perfect at all times, and the words from our brothers and sisters in Christ that are aligned with the heart of God will offend our fleshly ways. But you only need to “overlook” it. And, no… that doesn’t mean what you may be thinking!
In this case, it’s not to overlook this kind of “good” offense as a way to ignore it. The American Heritage Desk Dictionary has additional definitions for Overlook as, “to look over from above”, for example, an elevated spot that affords a broad view. Let me tell you, God wants to take you higher! In situations like these, take the high road to show Him you are faithful over a little! Another definition is, “to look over, examine”. So, for you to overlook an offense that is based on the Good News because it’s good for you, it’s to STOP yourself from reacting negatively. DROP the urge to lash back. Prayerfully ROLL what the person is saying over in your mind to understand how it applies to you, what changes need to be made, and if needed, what kind of help or support you need to change it.
To practice doing this on a regular basis, will give you wise knowledge that in turn yields patience. It gives you inner peace & peace with God. Providing you, an increasing freedom that comes with more exercised discretion regarding matters that arise in your life. Additionally, doing this begins to create a more kind environment to live in.
The overall goal, to be vessels of The Lord, is not to be politically correct, but instead strive for correct politics; not to resort to saving face, but instead face someone to save them from undesirable consequences; not to comfort what should be confronted, but instead to confront then comfort in love. Because as we learned as children wanting candy instead of vegetables, sometimes what doesn’t taste good, what doesn’t feel good, what doesn’t sound good, is often the True GOOD that does the Best GOOD!
Love You to Life!
LuKeisha Carr Ministries International, Inc.