Christians are so worried about not offending other people that it's starting to get really offensive. We want our Christian music, movies, TV, radio, comedians, coffee shops, gyms and summer camps. So much that we don't even want to know that the world is suffering, maybe because the idea of a loving God and a suffering world shatters our faith a bit or what I think is that we are trying to live a safe life away from being offended or hearing a swear word now and then.
"...blessed is the one who is not offended by me." -Jesus (Matthew 11:6)
We are so afraid of being offended that we've shaved Jesus' beard down, put him in a clean white robe (before Oxyclean), clean feet in nice sandals and sparkling white teeth (before Crest) all ready for a job interview. The way we've cleaned him up, he could almost work a Disney World. We don't want to follow him closely, because he probably smelled because he didn't have deodorant, walked everywhere he went, didn't wash his clothes once a day and shower twice a day. This dude spit in mud like it was nothing. He isn't afraid to literally get his hands dirty. He might even had some lice and fleas on him from the mule he rode into town. We don't want to follow this guy, maybe back then we would have because his hygiene was normal for those days (this is all speculation, maybe your Jesus took two showers a day), but if we follow Him now we've gotta change him a bit. But what we especially would not have liked is all those sinners and prostitutes he hung out with. I think I should mention that they were not reformed prostitutes when he started hanging out with them. I think we like to hang out with former sinners, drug dealers and convicts. But not until they're 'saved' will we sit and eat with them. If you followed Jesus closely, you'd get offended and you'd also probably spend way to much time trying to explain away all the offensive things that he said to other people. I mean, we do it now don't we? We go out of our way to explain what "Jesus really meant by that". I think if we were his disciples then, we'd chase down the rich young ruler and tell him that Jesus doesn't really want him to give up his possessions to follow him. I mean, that's what we tell people now. So hopefully we can catch up with that ruler and let him know that he should just fast his riches for a few weeks, to make sure he has the ability to give them up, but he really doesn't have to.
We're so busy avoiding hearing swear words that we've made a safe little bubble away from people that need love. But luckily they are so many wonderful Christians out there loving on those people, because frankly, I don't think the Christians that want to be safe all the time are able to love someone yet. Because loving means putting your life out there, putting someone else's comforts before your own. It's when we don't dedicate our lives to making our life so comfortable that we can stop worrying about what makes us comfortable. Basically, the point of Christianity or even this life is not to be comfortable and safe. If it were, we are doing a great job.
I've said this story before but it's one that changed my thoughts on a lot of things in life.
I used to work at a youth center as a volunteer. We'd have 60-80 kids come in three times a week to play pool, skateboard, hang out or whatever. This probably was their safe place from a sometimes dangerous home. One girl that came in regularly was sexually abused by her father. So I can't really blame her for wanting to go somewhere away from home. The father was in prison at the time, but even still, I can't imagine that house being entirely desirable to be at after school was over. There were tons of these stories, kids from broken homes, abusive homes, etc. etc. I grew to love these kids and they grew to love me, we'd joke around, make fun of each other, talk trash while playing pool, wrestle, etc. Pretty often some kid would come up to me and tell me his thoughts on life, family, etc. It'd get pretty raw and honest and my job was to just listen and show them I understand and love them. We'd have the same standard rules any business would have which was basically smoke outside, put cigarette butts here, no weapons, no drugs, etc. Those are pretty universal rules that any one would understand (even if they didn't obey). Needless to say, with all these kids from so many different walks of life, there was a lot to possibly get offended over if you wanted to. So the church affiliated with this youth center wanted a place for all the church youth group kids to go. Parents (and kids) were complaining that the youth center kids swore too much, smoked a lot and rough-housed. So the parents wouldn't send their kids to the youth center. We started losing the children of the parents who tithed. Unrelated to the complaints, we then got new leadership, whom I loved (please don't misread this, I loved them and their hearts) and they set up 'No Swearing" rules throughout the center. As leaders we we told to kick out kids for the day for swearing once. Soon as the rule was announced attendance cut to about half and the kids that stuck around got kicked out pretty often until they stopped coming. Remember, these kids probably don't know the difference between shit and crap. If their parents ever picked them up, they'd cuss too. It was in their vocabulary and their environment. It was like an accent to them. When you are around a southern draw, you pick up that southern draw. So asking them not to cuss was like asking a highschool girl or anyone not to say "like". Try not to say the word "like" for one hour that you are awake. Then come talk to me about "taming your tongue" in the Bible. So anyway, kids would sit down with me and open up about their life and get real honest. They'd slip up and swear and stop their honesty to apologize. I'd have to convince them I wasn't going to kick them out for being real with me at that moment. I remember one time, the leader decided that "sarcasm" wasn't good. They didn't make it a rule to kick people out, but you were asked to stop being sarcastic. If anyone reading this knows me personally or follows my twitter you can imagine my thoughts, "that new rule is gonna make all these kids start following Jesus" is what I thought sarcastically. Eventually we'd have only around 15 kids coming each day, and the kids that came were a few church kids and a few city kids that were forced to enjoy skateboarding and billiards without getting too honest. It got to the point were Jesus wouldn't be allowed in this youth center (not just because he's a bearded 30 year old man) but because he's sarcastic, he's raw, honest, he's blunt and offensive.
80 kids down to 10-15. Because some people wanted sinners to live a perfectly righteous life without Jesus. That is offensive to me. I'm honestly getting a little raged right now while typing this. Did you hear this? Some Christians wanted sinners to live a perfectly righteous life without Jesus! That is stupid and completely unbiblical. There is no gospel in that at all and I'd go as far as to say that that is evil. Living a perfect life is impossible, that is why Jesus came down to bear our filth on him and bring it to the grave. I have Jesus and I can't live a perfect life, that's why I need him to be my righteousness because I can not. We need to pull our heads out of the sand and see this broken world that needs love. Jesus didn't die on the cross so that you wouldn't have to hear the word 'shit'. Go into all the world and preach the good news. That might mean stop going to only Christian concerts, Christian coffee shops, Christian clothing stores, Christian mechanics, Christian radio, TV, Movies, book stores. There's nothing wrong with any of that, but if we are just trying to make a Christian versions of stuff so we don't have to be "in the world".
I've been on several military bases in my life. They are super safe, well guarded, you need ID to get in, etc. It's way better than any gated community. They even have pre-school, middle school, highschools on there. Baseball fields, wal-marts, subways, grocery stores. You could probably live a long time without ever having to leave the base. Oh, you'd be safe. But all you'd ever talk to is military and maybe occasionally friends of military. You'd probably never get into a debate about politics of peace, because you'd never run into a hippy. Sure you'd see them on TV, but that's good, so you can change the channel when they start saying stuff you disagree with. And that is exactly what Christianity has become. A safe place that we'll never have to interact with the world. Never have to explain why we are in the military or rub shoulders with people that disagree with it.
When you go to an American Embassy in another country, you're technically on American soil. I don't think we are "in the world but not of it" we are just not in the world completely. We only trying to bring heaven on earth so we can sit safely on heavenly soil away from this world. So we can eat our Christian sandwiches and drink our Christian coffee.
I buy my books at Barnes and Nobles. Last time I bought a book there, I couldn't find it. So I asked the guy "can you help me find "A Reason for God" and he said, "hmm, that's interesting, why's it in the Christian section". I've had conversations with bookkeepers that were curious of why I am reading certain books or what they are about. Would I have to do that in a Christian bookstore? Maybe we need to rub shoulders with people that disagree with us, so maybe we can learn that we aren't always right, challenge our faith to something stronger and sometimes it might even make them re-think what they believe?
We're so busy worrying about what movies we should watch, what music isn't Christian enough and what bookstores we should go to. All trying to avoid overhearing a swearword or something that we don't agree with.
I lived in a ghetto, by definition of the word, my whole life. Christians would always tell me what music and TV to avoid so I didn't have to hear swearing. But even when I was about 10 I told them, "I'd have to move from where I live if I wanted to avoid hearing swearing".
I'm not trying to say watch and listen to anything you want. I'm saying don't only love those that are lovely. If the most we're going to get persecuted in America is hearing someone swear or say God's name in vein or insult us. Blessed are those who might hear insults and swearing for righteousness’ sake. That's a paraphrase, I feel like I had to change the word "persecuted" because I don't think what we go through in America for the Gospel can hold a candle to our brothers and sisters in other countries.
I don't know how to sum this up. I want to end with encouragement so I'm not just beating you down. I'm just sorry to see so many people tragically lost that are arms length from Christians but pushed away because they are hard to handle. When you start to realize Christianity isn't about whether or not you can smoke a pipe, have a beer or say "freaking". Why are we even discussing whether or not freaking is wrong to say? Nobody has really even Biblically convinced me that swearing is always a sin.
The two greatest commandments are to love God and Love people. I'm telling you, this is so freeing to learn.
I started playing basketball about a year ago. I love it. I'm still learning rules on fouling. I've always heard about fouls and stuff. But never made sense to me. I really learned when I started playing and told my friends, "let me know when I foul you". Now I know how to play Basketball. Sure I foul everyonce and a while, but the point of the game isn't about not fouling. It's about getting points. Sometimes your fouls will stop you from getting points, but in the end, you'll never get any if you sit on the bench figuring out what is technically a foul or not.
Stop worrying about what's a sin. There are very clear rules layed out in the Bible about murder, stealing, rape, lying, etc. The rest you'll figure out, sometimes it's person by person. One person's insult is another's sign of respect. Just let people call you out when you foul. Be humble enough to apologize for a bad step. Then move on, keep playing. It's not about not sinning. It's about loving God and loving people. When you realize how sin will stop you from properly loving someone else, you'll grow a desire in your heart to stop fouling out so you can keep playing the game.