Yesterday, I got my feelings hurt in church - I was offended over my race. I’ll admit, even though I have prayed, and I have forgiven, I just can’t shake it. There’s a feeling like I have to defend myself. My mind and heart ponder Christ before Pilate, silent before His accusers, refusing to defend the insulting charges against Him. Am I to die to self? What is the lesson here for me? One minute, I was sitting comfortably, among my fellow Sisters in Christ. The next minute, I was literally being pointed at and lumped with people who have completely different beliefs than I do, people I don’t even know, just because they and I have brown skin. We’re not even the same nationality. I felt ejected from the group – labeled as other and with my entire belief system assumed.
Jesus was treated no differently than the common criminals who flanked Him on the cross that day. Oddly enough, there is comfort in that. Yet, the flesh of my being still longs to defend myself. I want to put that lady in her place by showing her how wrong she is about me. I want to boast of my family’s credentials and tell her of my world travels. I want to insult her right back in a different language. But the Spirit tells me to quiet my flesh. Ultimately, it is the Spirit of Christ who I will obey.
I will talk to her though, guided by the Holy Spirit. I’ll speak to her in love about this grievance, because it is Biblical. I need to first be reconciled to my sister, and then come and offer my gift. (Matthew 5:24) My gift is whatever He shares specifically with me, whatever He pours into only me because I am His. God has a gift for each of us. I am a member of His family, just like she is, and I am entitled to not be judged based on my outward appearance.
The blessing for me is that I am confident in Christ. I know who I am in Him and I walk the path He has laid out for me to walk. Another person of color she may encounter, may not be in the same place. If I, confident in Christ, could have my feelings hurt, then another could easily have a more intense reaction. I need to lovingly let her know that she needs to examine her heart when it comes to judging others. The fact is, we all do.
The bottom line is that offense is a part of life in this broken world before Jesus returns. Some offenses stick with you longer than others. Matthew 18 will be my guide here.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15
“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18
Today, I bind love with my sister. I bind unity in my Church family. Today, I loose bitterness and anger. I loose the tugging of the devil and my flesh to seek to quarrel and to boast.
Friend, I pray that if you are dealing with any kind of offense, that you would submit to the Holy Spirit to heal your hurts and guide your next steps. I pray that you would remember Christ, who was so horribly offended against, and choose to follow His example and teachings. Please know that I am right here in this with you, and I’m working to do all these things.