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How People Are Offensive & Believing the Best of Them Anyways

People are offensive. And here's why:

1) People do things differently than me. I like to have a clear workspace; others like to have their items all over the place. I find this annoying, especially if we have to share spaces because, not only do I like my way more, I also think it's better. Sometimes my ways are better; sometimes they aren't.

2) People's words can brush up against my insecurities. For example, I'm not very good at doing my kids' hair consistently or really at all, so if I'm around a parent who starts gushing about the type of gel they buy for their son's hair, I might feel insecure or annoyed or inept. No harm was meant, but I might be offended anyways.

3) People don't meet my expectations. Like I ask them about their day and spend a good amount of time listening to their story, and then they hurry away without inquiring about my day. I am resentful because I was listening with the hope of being listened to. I expected something in return. Maybe the expectation was realistic; maybe it wasn't.

4) People say silly things. Like maybe in their family the middle child is the most dramatic, so they say, "Middle children are drama queens." And I'm offended because I'm a middle child and I rather pride myself at not being dramatic. I'm irked, and not only because I think they're wrong, after all, I wouldn't be irked if someone said that Palm trees were in the succulent family. I'd just think they were ignoramuses. I'm irked because their statement makes a false assumption about me. Likewise, I'm irked when people make false statements about Jesus, the bible, women, and the church.

5) Last of all, sometimes people offend because they are selfish, greedy, vain, jealous, angry, afraid, or hurt, and I am in their line of fire. Like they minimize my experiences because they are inconsiderate, or they belittle me because they feel small themselves. They may have been hurt, so they hurt back. Or they're unhappy with their lot so they insult mine.

When people wrong me, I tend to ask, "Why did they do that?" and then make up a reason, usually one of the motives from that fifth option, and thus, I frequently enter dangerous territory. I play God, acting as judge and pretending I know the intricacies of their heart. I divvy out blame and diagnoses where I think fitting. By doing so, I place myself on a little pedestal of righteousness, which usually serves as a nice barrier against my own deficiencies. "At least I admit my faults. At least I apologize when I hurt others. At least I listen. At least I don't . . . or I do . . ."

"Judgement creates the distance that moves us away from each other. Judgement keeps us in the competitive game and is always self-aggrandizing." (Boyle, 54). "Judgement takes up the room you need for loving." (Boyle, 57)

If I am ever to believe the best of my brothers or sisters, if I'm ever going to be brought alongside them to do life together, if I am ever going to love them, the judgement has got to be replaced by understanding. And I don't mean I must understand why someone hurt me. I shall probably never understand all the intricacies of that. I mean I must understand that I too have done just as much harm as them. They and I are, in fact, the same.

In God's eyes I am equally as wicked as those who offend me. And through Christ's blood, I have been made equally right.

All the harm we've done to others has cost God the same price—both the violent rapes and the teenage disrespect. Every lie and slanderous word, every slight and flippant look is a laugh in God's face, a flipping him off, a stabbing in the back. It is the actions of rebels saying, "No! I don't want to live your way!"

God has reason to be offended.

However, when he showed up among us, he didn't throw stones. He, of all people, had every right to assign blame and punish, and instead he demonstrated what it means to believe the best of someone. That is, while we were still sneering at him, he absorbed the wrath of God in his dying body. God was indeed offended by our sins, but Christ has taken the blame for it.

". . . while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His son . . " (Romans 5:10a, ESV)

That is the great equalizer that can bring me into sisterhood with people who snub me or make false assumptions about me or discriminate against me or don't seem to love me well. Instead of withdrawing in hurt, instead of drawing lines and erecting walls or hitting back, I can stand beside them. Yes, even draw them in close. I can let their offenses pass me by because I see those offenses as God sees them. They are offenses against him and not me. And he has paid for them already. All of them: the offenses that are obvious and the ones that I don't even know exist, the ones that hurt many and the ones that seem to hurt no one. Even before they were committed or confessed, God had already said, "My son has paid for that too."

Yes, others can hurt me because I am human, and words and slaps sting, but I needn't write them in my mental score book. I needn't be offended at all.

"The more you take things personally, the more you suffer. You observe it, hold it up to the light, release it, and move on. One can choose to let suffering be the elevator to a heightened place of humble loving" (Boyle, 105).

I cannot love the people who offend me so long as I see them beneath me like moral beggars while I live in the neighborhood of the morally-upright lords. If I cannot say that I am among the worst of these, I shall forever be ignorant of how much my sins have cost God.

I with them. Us. We have cost God his son. And that is why he now calls us good.

"We honor the other and step away from critique. We seek to embrace what Ignatius called 'adoration,' which was principally expressed through reverence. We are reverent, then, for the weight carried by those on the margins and stand present before the wordless goodness of our God in them" (Boyle, 69).

Boyle, Gregory. Barking to the Choir. New York: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, 2017. Print.


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