how hast thou offended?

“Do you find there’s a lot of arrogance among writers?”

I furrowed my brow and then smiled sheepishly. “Well, I suppose there is a certain arrogance in broadcasting one’s words on the internet. My ideas are so special everyone should read them! There are definitely all sort of voices out there, but I would characterize my writing community as generous.”

My friend said that in her creative field the egos are out of control. “Maybe people are less arrogant because you write about faith.” I admitted that Christians could be every bit as self-involved as the next guy. (She probably knew.) And it struck me that one of the hardest areas to exhibit humility, in writing and in life, is dealing with criticism.

There was this pastor, and he got a little news coverage for putting a political zinger on the church marquee. It was unkind and possibly racist. The community cried foul, but he defended his sign up and down, saying,

Truth is offensive.

Is it? Offensive like that? It reminded me of our disagreements and the way we casually dismiss our critics as haters.

If you’re pissing people off, you must be doing something right!

The thing is, I’m pretty sure that the integrity of an action or argument is unrelated to how others receive it.

Sometimes we cheer the good guy.

Sometimes we nail him to a tree.

Sometime we shine light on darkness.

Sometimes we strip off our clothes and roll in it.

Jesus was offensive, certainly, to status quo, power, and decorum. He ate with outcasts and welcomed sinners. He esteemed women and children. He touched lepers. He healed on the Sabbath. He preached good news to the poor. He identified with prisoners. He claimed to be God. He washed his friends’ feet. He forgave sins and enemies. He gave his body as food and his blood as drink. He reinterpreted scripture and fulfilled it. He was executed by the state as a criminal. He rose from the dead.

But offensiveness itself is not a great indicator of being on the right path. Being offensive is not a fruit of the Spirit. They won’t know we are Christians ’cause we’re dicks. That’s not how the song goes.

Jesus humbled himself to the point of death, but his Way leads to Life. He exalted the humble and loved us all, even those who disagreed, betrayed, and had him killed.

The Truth can be offensive. Like the cross. Like love.

Like Jesus.

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