Another great challenge facing humanity is evading offence. This is just as it is impossible to avoid offending other people, who may be relatives or strangers. We are all susceptible to offending or being offended by other people, one way or the other.
It doesn’t matter whether one is of the royal blood or just ordinary. We all get offended, or get caught up in offending other people, whether we like it or not. The word ‘offence’ is mentioned more times, in the New Testament, than it is mentioned in the Old Testament Bible.
At one point Jesus lamented: “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offences cometh!” (Matthew 18:7) (KJV).
Jesus had been referring to the possibility of offending the ‘little ones’; the term He often used to describe those accepting His calling. Jesus had been answering a question that sought to clarify on matters of leadership.
The question of leadership had been normal, just as leadership structures are of utmost importance in current civilization. However, the mission of Jesus was to establish a different civilization, for whose principles, He had to be murdered.
Nevertheless, the primary reason for Jesus’ murder was offending the religious community of that time. In other words, Jesus offended more people than all of us, can ever imagine. But Jesus lamented about causing offence on other people?
As for us, Jesus declared: “…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).
I cannot think of any other grave warning? How then can we avoid offending people, when that is next to impossible? In verse 7 Jesus also declared that assuredly offences would come. The lingering question is: How then can we avoid offending people?
This blog can probably be adjudged as churning out highly offensive material? Especially when considering the contents, on the following two posts: [False data stripping] and [What is in a title, if not to deceive?].
I cannot be blind as to be unable to appreciate that such topics are highly offensive to the highly profiled people. I can imagine some of them gnashing their teeth: “Who does this social nonentity think he is to invade this territory?”
How about the fact that Jesus also sternly warned? “…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).
In ordinary ways of looking at things, I may be viewed as quite vulnerable. However, as stated earlier, there is no other person to ever reach the level of Jesus, in terms of offending people. Stephen offended people and was stoned on the spot (Acts 7:58-60). But his offences cannot reach anywhere nearer those of Jesus.
The apostle Paul and his companions also offended many people and got killed. But no-one can claim to have ever reached the level of blameworthy of the chief offender—Jesus Christ.
I suppose, by now, it has dawned on many, that those apostles did not offend Christ’s ‘little children’? They received spitefulness from ordinary people, only on behalf of Jesus Christ.
However, when coming in Jesus’ name, even out of sincere ignorance, thereby unnecessarily offending people, the blood of Jesus’ protects you. Typical of young children, the ignorant person, as one of the ‘little ones’ is protected by Christ.
This is what gives me confidence and assurance, even though aware of possible offences, due to such postings on this blog. I do everything out of sincerity, whether misguided or not. I take comfort in being protected by the architect of Christianity—Jesus Christ.
The most important thing is what would be expected of me, when someone eventually proves how wrong I have been, all along. The noblest thing would be to sincerely apologize to the offended ones. Christianity is as simple as that.
Such people may decide not to forgive me. But that would be a question of their relationship with God. Asking for forgiveness, when also seeking to forgive others, is one of the guaranteed provisions in Christianity (Matthew 6:14-15).
It is quite possible that I have offended many Christians, one way or the other, through my writings. Personally, I have also encountered quite disturbing obstacles in my Christian experiences. But I have come to a stage where it is no longer necessary to take offences on Christian matters.
I may be yet to offend other people, though not intentionally. But I no longer take offences on Christian matters. Obviously, to most people, this sounds like boasting, as deserving to be censured. But what I am stating here is true. In the name of the Mighty Lord, Jesus Christ, I now take full responsibility on issues of Christian faith. See [Defending the Pharisees].
It cannot be possible to ever offend those taking full responsibility on Christian matters. They may encounter those who invalidate them without listening or, just treating them as nonentities. But they understand their critics. Those critics may not understand them, but they fully understand the critics in their rantings.
When Jesus said we should pray for those who persecute us, He meant taking full responsibility. A person taking full responsibility will always be willing to change when proven wrong. But he/she also sincerely applies what he/she assumes as workable, at any given time.
Freedom is about taking full responsibility. That is the only way to avoid offence; or offending other people. If people get offended because you said what you sincerely believed to be true, but later discovered to be false, there is no reason to feel bad. I suppose Jesus would be the one responsible.
Jesus was called names: “But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons” (Matthew 12:24) (ESV).
By spurting such venomous words, those Pharisees intended to offend Jesus. Well, they didn’t understand Jesus, but Jesus fully understood them. It could not have been possible for Jesus to be offended by such ill-informed people.
Jesus applied full responsibility over His environment, which is the reason why He could not be offended. Even today, I suppose, His true disciples carry similar mandate, as He obviously empowers those operating on His behalf:
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12) (ESV).
What Jesus implies, is not that Christians should take insults grudgingly, believing that to be a license for heavenly reward? Jesus was referring to taking full responsibility. It is not possible for a person who takes full responsibility to be offended.
The story of Joseph in the Bible shows a person who understood the principle of taking full responsibility in one’s environment. Joseph never entertained the idea of revenging against his brothers, though grossly abused during his youthful days (Genesis 50:15-21).
I am aware of the comfort that most leaders enjoy, from followers who know very little about responsibility. I suppose such leaders and their followers get protected by the fact that they may not be connected to Jesus, after all? Otherwise they would be affected by the effects of offending the ‘little ones’.
As long as susceptible to taking offences, a person may still be a long way before coming to grips with Christian principles. I particularly keep praying for Christian leaders, as obviously more vulnerable to Jesus’ warning in Matthew 18:6-7.
The majority of people, out there, take pleasure in the warmth of those misleading them. I doubt that Jesus is concerned about those having not become the ‘little ones’ He referred to, as recorded in Matthew 18:6-7? But those having committed their lives to Him.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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