Can love be offensive?

“Pastor, I cannot share your sermons anymore on social media because I am not sure if you will be offensive or not.”

Some of you may be reading thinking that this sort of sentiment is rare; I assure you it is not. We have a growing issue within the American church that has believers nearly paralyzed because we are afraid to offend. Yet, the gospel itself is foolish and offensive to a world that reviles its truth (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). The gospel reveals, to the world, that it is sinful and in need of change, and the world is offended as a result.

When I was a child, the truth was hard but necessary for growth. Sure, I could be offended, but what happened after the offense? I remember coming to a point in my life where someone might say something mostly off base, but I was able to mine the depths of their criticism and find a nugget of truth to make it worthwhile and contribute to my growth; I became stronger.
Today, the world tells us that offense is morally repugnant. The assertion is that if we offend someone, we do not love them and must apologize profusely and adapt our lives to meet whatever worldview has been offended. We have become a culture where increasing numbers of people are doing what is right in their own eyes, so long as what is right in their own eyes matches the woke talking points of the day and does not offend anyone else.

We must remember, the truth has not changed for over 2000 years. Jesus is still the Christ, the Son of the living God. Men are still men, women are still women, and we as Christians are still supposed to stand against false Christ’s of every generation while making disciples of all nations.

Our fear of offense has made our witness weak with a false morality silencing many Christians. We have been made to believe that if we offend, somehow, this means that we do not love. Yet, our Savior who was love incarnate offended regularly and still did not sin. Consider Jesus’ interaction with the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23. Seven woes Jesus calls upon these men. Seven times He publicly calls them hypocrites. By today’s standards, Jesus’ actions would be deemed unloving, yet Jesus was love on legs. There was never a time when Jesus was not displaying His love. The “tough” love that these men received was the love they needed in precisely the manner they needed it communicated. The most loving thing Jesus could do at this moment was to offend these men. With the hope being they would move through the offense and conform their lives to the Truth.

As Christians, we need to remember that someone elses’ offense does not indicate the state of our hearts. Yes, we have been called to love God and love people. But loving people does not mean that we are not, cannot, or should not offend. It means we need to fulfill the commandments, but more specifically, we need to be about the Mission of Living the truth, loving the lost, and making disciples regardless the cost. The cost of living the truth may come at their offense and subsequently our expulsion from “polite” society. The question then is, “are we as believers willing to pay such a price for the sake of the Truth?”
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