I remember the discussions during my college days regarding what can be an offense and a “stumbling block” for others. It was in the early 1980’s and articles appeared in several Christian magazines regarding Christian rock music. Those writers opposed it heavily without any mercy. They opposed the idea of connecting the word “Christian” with rock music. They compared it with overt demonic manifestations in various countries. Somehow it was also connected with the worship of demons and Satan himself. Within the context of such arguments, we struggled with the concept of being an offense to others. We were trying to understand what our limits were. How far are we being a stumbling block to others?
The ministry and teachings of Jesus were offensive to some prominent religious leaders of his day. This was quite obvious and the disciples even responded and said to Jesus: “Do you know that the pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” (Matthew 15:12) In fact, the “offense” was so fierce that they labeled Jesus as a drunkard, glutton, and a friend of sinners. That’s quite a damper for a young rabbi starting out in the ministry at a young age. Jesus was offensive to those who were self-righteous. But to those who were weak and struggling, he was completely merciful.
While dealing with the issue of eating food and how one should choose what to eat, Paul urged them to be considerate of the weak (Romans 14). Paul’s admonition was that they should be directed by love and consideration for the weak. If their faith is weak, we must be considerate and loving towards them.
So, is the perspective of Paul different from that of Jesus? Rather than being different, the two views are complementary. To those who are mature, and to the hypocritical ones, be firm. Know what you believe and stand for it with all your heart. But to the weak, be kind and do your best to explain your actions and intentions. Most of all, be motivated by love and selflessness.
How have you handled the fine art of offense?
Share it in the comments section of the blog.
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