We Christians (and I include myself in that group) are too easily offended at times.
We are a passionate people given to strong feelings and even stronger opinions. Few in our culture are confused about what matters to us. Frankly, believers are known for what we are against, and the list is long.
Certainly, many of the issues we fight for are significant. However, and let’s be honest, some of the things we get irritated about have nothing to do with Biblical truth and are far more about personal preferences.
For the record, I’m an evangelical, Bible believing pastor and Christian.
I believe the Word is clear about what matters to God.
- Mercy and grace
- Forgiveness and eternal life
- Discord within the Body of Christ
And the list goes on . . .
Without question, there are a lot of things that absolutely matter to God. However, there are many things that matter to some Christians, but not so much to Christ.
- The volume of the worship music
- When and how often a church should take communion
- The appropriate translation of the Bible to be used in a message
- Guys wearing hats in church
And again, the list goes on . . .
Rather than get all spun-out over our pet peeves, perhaps we should consider one simple, yet important question: What made Jesus mad?
As Christ-followers, it would seem obvious that what upset Jesus ought to disturb us. If it mattered to Him, it should matter to us. Conversely, if it didn’t seem to matter much to Jesus, perhaps it shouldn’t matter to us.
As a pastor, author, and blogger, on a regular basis I get an email from someone “deeply concerned” about something. The long emails usually have a bite, and they are generally written by a person who is extremely upset (the CAPS and !!!! are a dead give-away).
Yes, being corrected is a good thing when you’re wrong. In fact, I welcome constructive criticism. I never want to be above rebuke because I want to live a life that is above reproach.
Rarely, however, is their “issue” related to a doctrinal concern or Biblical error on my part. Typically, it’s about a matter of style or church practice.
I get it. People have opinions, and that’s fine.
I know that not everybody sees things the way I see them, and that’s to be expected.
What continually amazes me, however, is the mean and vile nature of some who call themselves Christ-followers.
I just listened to a phone message from someone who is, at best, an infrequent attender at our church. She called to complain about something that “really bothers her.” I can deal with the fact that she’s upset. I appreciate that she is attempting to communicate with me.
The problem? She was caustic, rude, and unkind. Not at all like Jesus.
I recently attempted to point out to another parishioner how important it is to be like Jesus when you’re outraged. He blurted out, “Yeah, but Jesus got mad! There’s such a thing as righteous indignation!”
I looked at him, and said as gently as possible, “Yes, Jesus did get infuriated at times, but perhaps it would be a worthwhile endeavor for you to study what actually ticked Jesus off.”
So, what did upset Jesus?
- Hardness of heart (Mark 3:1-5)
- Selfish ambition (Mark 8:31-38)
- Spiritual arrogance (Luke 9:51-55)
- Self-centeredness (Matthew 23:10-12)
- Hypocrisy and fake religiosity (Luke 11:37-54)
Try as you might, you won’t find any passage in which Jesus got mad at sinners for being sinners. You will, however, find Him very angry with the so-called righteous.
You won’t find Jesus spouting off about Rome or the Emperor. He simply reminded His followers that His kingdom is not of this world.
You won’t see Jesus venting about people wearing hats in the Synagogue (they all did), or about the volume of worship (the Jews tend to like it loud, check this out).
Let’s own it: the stuff that ticks a lot of us off didn’t matter at all to Jesus.
Have your opinions. Be passionate. Express yourself.
But please stop being an angry Christian, unless it’s about something that also made Christ mad.
I love this quote by M.R. DeHaan, “We need not all agree, but if we disagree, let us not be disagreeable in our disagreements.”
What a concept. Rather than disdain, contempt, and scorn for others, let’s do our best, especially with our brothers and sisters, to live in humility, harmony, and peace.
In the words of one of my favorite NEEDTOBREATHE songs: be more heart and less attack.
“Dear brothers and sisters,
I close my letter with these last words:
Be joyful. Grow to maturity.
Encourage each other.
Live in harmony and peace.
Then the God of love and peace
will be with you.”
2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT