Go Ahead! Get Mad at This Post! I Want You To . . .

bird-20475_640No one should have to walk on eggshells around people who can walk on water. That’s what I think.

There are Christians who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and then there are touchy religious people who take offense at every turn. Which we are, is largely up to us.

I once met with a group of writers who love writing but don’t follow Jesus. I learned from them and we enjoyed one another’s work. One night, we discussed a scene from one of my novels. An older writer asked why I didn’t have the veteran detective swear. I summarized the standards of Christian publishers for fiction. When I concluded, she looked at me with honest concern and asked, “Wow, exactly how fragile are you people?”

I agree with many of the standards we have for Christian writing – not for fear of offending anyone – but because I believe excellent writers can transcend trashy words, gratuitous gore, and blatant sex scenes. Christian writers, made in the image of God who is THE Word, should be the most excellent of all writers. No doubt.

Still, her concern bothered me. That’s not the kind of stuff I’m made of – not in Christ. In Christ, I’m not fragile; I’m indestructible. In Christ, I’m not breakable; I’m eternal. In Christ, I’m not quick to take offense; I’m slow to anger. In Christ, I’m tougher than I ever was without Him because He is my shield, my fortress, and my strong tower.

But, I understood what she meant. It can become an unstated contest in the church which of us is so “sensitive to the Holy Spirit” we see offenses at every turn. In modern times, we’ve become a touchy crowd. As easily sparked as tinder in a drought. That shouldn’t be the way of believers.

Sensitive, touchy, easily offended is not how Jesus lived. It’s not our calling. Huffing, puffing, and finger wagging at every slight isn’t Holyweapons-273968_640 Spirit sensitivity. It’s a form of self-centeredness, which is the antithesis of representing Jesus. If someone apologizes for swearing in my presence, I don’t want it to be because they fear a scolding but because they sense the presence of Jesus.

In karate, we did conditioning drills where we took hits from our partners (to our arms and legs) to prepare to withstand more hits. We invited the minor pain because it conditioned our bodies to take the pain of an actual assault and continue to operate.

That’s what I believe we should be thinking in these times. Does my faith offend you? Tell me about. Go ahead. Mock me. Laugh at me. Insult me. Try to shut me down. I’ll practice being slow to anger, quick to listen, and slow to speak. I’ll learn to rely on God to forgive those who persecute me and to pray for even those who despise me. I’ll practice loving under fire. I’ll practice witnessing for Christ with a mouthful of gravel and a boot on my neck. I want you to see Jesus and to know I am an overcomer by His power. If I have nothing to overcome, what is there for you to see?

Exclude me from your little circle? Fine. I’ll learn to enjoy the company of Christ. Hurt me economically? Excellent. I’ll learn to rely more on Jesus. Try to strip me of power? Go ahead. They did that to my Lord and He showed them that all power lies with Him by rising from the grave. What have I to fear? In Jesus, I live the gospel of bring it on, baby, bring it.

I talk tough on paper but I believe this, even if I shake in my shoes in the lunchroom at work when someone starts a conversation that I know will leave me in the minority. Still, it’s never occurred to me to complain to the management that my fragile Christian self can’t tolerate opposing views voiced over tuna sandwiches. Nothing we’ve faced so far in America has come even close to something we can call persecution – not compared to brothers and sisters overseas.

It’s no great witness to wag your finger at someone who curses in the next cubicle. It’s a powerful witness to choose to follow Jesus today in Syria, North Korea, Somalia, or China. How much better would it be, when faced with a coworker using the Lord’s name in vain, if we responded like this:

“I wish you hadn’t said that.”

“Oh, does it offend you when I use God’s name in vain?”

child-945422_640It’s God’s business to take offense. It’s His name, after all, and He knows you better than I do. It’s up to Him to deal with you on that. No, it’s just that every time I hear you say that, I think about Christians suffering for that name in other countries and it makes me sad. I was just praying this morning for a pastor in China who has been in prison for ten months simply for preaching about the owner of that name. Every time you say it that way, I think how having to hear you abuse my God’s name is nothing compared to what that pastor is enduring.

How many opportunities do we miss by displaying the world’s idea of sensitivity to God’s Spirit when we should be displaying His? Jesus didn’t walk this planet huffing and puffing and taking offense. There was nothing fragile about the King of Kings. Even in death, He laid His life down. It wasn’t taken from Him.

Because Jesus holds my heart in His hands, it’s really up to me how much hurt I take from the world. God’s enemies can try to destroy me but they won’t succeed. I can cooperate with them and let myself be fragile or I can submit to the conditioning, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and learn to love through it, forgive through it, bear witness as I endure it.

Maybe I’m wrong but cross bearing seems much more biblical than finger wagging, don’t you think?

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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Pam Halter says:

    Preach it, girl!! Thanks for this – you’ve given me some good things I can respond with. But I’m like you … I’d be shaking in my sneakers if someone confronted me. Hoping and praying I’ll be able to respond without fear and with the truth.

  2. Great post, Lori. I think about those in the world being persecuted and realize we have no right to complain about anything. We don’t know what persecution really is.

  3. Sue says:

    I agree with your post, and who we Christians are to be in the world. I’m not especially sensitive, but your quote from the non-Christian writer interested me. I’m halfway through a chick-lit novel I got for beach reading. I’d heard of the popular secular author, and decided to try her. For me, it was a mistake–so heavily salted with R-rated language, it’s boring. That isn’t relevant here, but I was reminded that while we Christians shine with his love, our personal choices of whatever’s pure, beautiful, and worthy, also make a positive statement in a harsh world.