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SO, YOU'RE ANGRY, HUH?

Publishing Date : 15 December, 2015

Author : MOGOTSI D BALOYI

I keep hearing from time to time about the "I'm done with Church" people. These are people that have decided to go and stay at home and sat down due to some claimed trauma that they experienced in Church. I'm sure that the stories are varied, and depending on who's telling the story, probably horrific in the details of how they were done wrong.

Well, as a Pastor of some years now, I've got a few horror stories of my own that I could tell of how I've invested in people; believed in them; gave them a place to serve and become; believed in them when no one else did; paid their bills and ministered to them in their pain; literally clothed them; fed them; invested in their business; counselled then and gave them a word that set them on course into their own ministries. There are some that are actually alive today because by God's grace, they were healed when I laid these hands upon them after the Doctors gave them no hope. They told me they loved me and that there was no one in the world like me.

They told me I'm their father and God sent them to me. Then they left me high and dry in a fit of rage and indignation when something did not go the way they wanted it to! Most of them never even bothered to say they were leaving. They just disappeared into thin air and I would occasionally chance upon some of them on social media still ranting subliminally or in no uncertain terms about how I did them wrong or colluded with someone that did them wrong. They totally forgot what I did for them and how the very Church they're insulting taught them what they know. Some of them are getting admiration and credit for having "revelation," while the truth is they're simply parroting what they heard me say. Everything they know, they basically learned it from me.

Now, we want to give credence to these kind of "saints" and start a movement to placate them and see what we need to do to bring them back into fellowship with the Church of Jesus Christ as the Word of the Lord clearly tells us NOT to forsake the assembling of ourselves together with the saints. Usually, they want to be begged to come to Church and all sorts of concessions made to appease them. They are right and everyone else is wrong. Selfishness and unforgiveness are not kingdom values. Is this kind of behavior representative of a follower of Christ? A disciple? A son of God? I think not! We all have stories of offense. I dare say such people have also offended others on more than one occasion in more ways than one.

They're not the only ones offended or hurt. We all have been. Offenses are there. In fact, Jesus guaranteed them. He said offenses will come. And if we wanted to use them, they could become the reason that we run for cover and isolate ourselves from the Body of Christ at every whim and turn. If I used offense and "somebody did me wrong in Church" as a litmus test for whether I remained in ministry, I would have left long ago. I've been hurt. I've been lied about. I've been insulted and disrespected. My hair is gray-ing. But I haven't left and sulked at home or shouted my grievances from the rooftops. I have not dragged the names of my offenders in the mud. Offense is like an automatic weapon. Once you pull the trigger, it keeps firing.

Unless properly identified and repentance and change come forth, the spirit of offense will continue to cause chaos and destroy relationships. The spirit of offense has infiltrated our Churches and causes division, dissension, suspicions, strife, hurt and pain. As offense infiltrates our Churches and annihilates the peace and unity, what can we do as Christians to root this out? We must self-examine, searching within ourselves to see when and if offense arises. If a person easily shuts down when people speak truth into their lives or make a suggestion and they automatically think the other person is wrong, this could be an insidious spirit of offense. It is at the least a crucial warning to self-evaluate and try to discover why the person so quickly withdrew from the correction or suggestion given. Often their thoughts will lead to, "They are out to get me." Thoughts like those lead to an unhealthy and unproductive road of emotional turmoil. Offense is a deadly weapon that kills relationships and builds up bitterness. Offense is tied to pride and control. Those three in operation together are a deadly trio. People manifesting this trio seldom experience deliverance without spending a serious amount of time casting down their flesh, allowing God to divinely intervene, and receiving correction and insight from those with prophetic wisdom. Offense is difficult to identify within, because pride will keep us from exposing the offense in our life. Pride tells us we are always right and cannot have offense in our lives.

How can you tell if you are easily offended? Here are some markers: you are quick to argue and defend yourself; you are quick to anger; you get your feelings hurt easily; you keep playing comments or actions over and over in your mind and growing resentful; or you don't want to talk to a certain person anymore. Offense is dangerous because "a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and their contentions are like the bars of a castle" (Prov. 18:19). But love is not touchy or easily provoked (see 1 Cor. 13:5-6). We know that, "good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense" (Prov. 19:11). And the Preacher offers some really good advice: "Do not give heed to everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you have spoken a curse against others" (Eccl. 7:21-22). Ultimately, if you are offended the only way to escape that trap is to spit out the bait. Forgive. There are many, many Scriptures dealing with the forgiveness, which is a commandment, not an option.

But here's one I'll leave you with: "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord" (Lev. 19:18). Walk this way and you will walk free of offense—and avoid it all together to begin with: "Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love flaunts not itself and is not puffed up, does not behave itself improperly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things" (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Removing offense from us and assisting others involves identifying the characteristics of offense: Entitlement: The person with offense feels they are owed something. They value what they have in themselves and feel they have worked hard and they deserve to be elevated.

The truth is they felt they deserved something they weren't entitled to. Entitled people feel it is their duty and responsibility even though it isn't. When they feel entitled to a position or thing and don't receive it they get offended and rejected. Pride: Prideful people are self-reliant instead of God reliant. When pride attacks, it doesn't allow us to see the entire picture. Lucifer was prideful and it resulted in his fall. When people are offended, the offense is rooted in pride. Pride makes us fall, however with offense people don't see the fall as a result of their own doing, but they put the blame on others. Some people cannot handle the thought of being wrong and then they feel shameful and unworthy. When a person offers direction or correction to a prideful offensive person, often it is interpreted as, "I can't do anything right or I messed up again." Unfairness: People with offense often feel Church leaders have treated them unfairly. A common complaint I hear is that, "They didn't value my gifting." People get hurt and build up resentment and bitterness when they are not used in the Church. What people don't realize is that there is proper order in a well-structured Church and more than likely the person wanted to be used and valued before their time. Respect: The world has taught us to demand respect, but the Bible has taught us to humble ourselves and serve with love.

When offended, what the world has taught us screams in our ears and we cannot hear the quietness of the Lord's voice that says serve with humility. Control: Offensive people often desire to control the situation. When control and having it my way cannot exist, offensive people get offended and leave the Church. If only they would have stayed under the strong leadership that didn't put up with their selfish behaviors, they may have received the healing they were longing for but didn't know they needed. There are Pastors and leaders who will put up with offensive people in attempt to usher them into deliverance and manifest the giftings within them.

Unfortunately, offensive people think everyone else is wrong and they are the only one who is right. Therefore, when a genuine person comes into their life or is sent by God, they often don't receive them because they don't know how to receive unconditional love, correction and instruction. People with offense become unteachable in their pursuit to be elevated, entitled and respected. They can't receive the fact that this situation or Church will be different from the last encounter they had.

They are still elevating themselves and can't believe that someone may have more knowledge or growth in their spiritual walk. They often would rather be argumentative than pursue peace and humility. How can people assist those caught up in offense? We must love them unconditionally and listen to them. People with offense want to be valued and heard. We can go forth in the love of the Father by yielding to them, listening to them, offering spirit led advice and giving them a chance to heal. How do you do that? Set healthy boundaries, but show them you have a quality that is different. Extended them the grace and mercy that Jesus Christ gave to you. Approach them with tenderness, but firmness.

We want to lead and guide people into a place of peace and love, forgiveness and hope. A good mentor and leader will speak the truth in love and give the person practical examples and instruction on how to walk out their past hurts and pain. Instead of always giving them the answer, instruct them in question form by making suggestions of what they could think about and take to prayer, seeking the Holy Spirit for discernment. By working with them and not against them, you can lead them to a place of receiving exactly what they are seeking, love and value and to be used by God.

There is a Biblical prescription to resolve offense and it is not separation from the Church and accusation against its leadership. We need to maintain the standard of the Word of the Lord in all matters of life, offense included. Part of the problem is gross immaturity in the pulpit and the pew. Sin is a poor fit for the life of any believer; whether they are in the pew or the pulpit. Barna's statistics won't solve the problem, only the heart impacted by the Holy Spirit and the will that is more committed to following Christ than being right, or being understood, or being heard. Let's grow up in Christ with a view toward the "measure of the fullness of Christ" as our pursuit in God. Maybe then we will realize that one of the most significant values of the Christian walk is the need to die to ourselves so that we can live in him! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

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