THE TAKE AWAY
Unoffendable — A Review
By Kersley Fitzgerald
Once upon a time, there lived a girl who was always annoyed. It was like a superhero talent she had that she could always find something irritating no matter where she was or what she was doing. One day she met a boy and they started dating and a year later they got married. Some months into their relationship, she realized the boy didn't annoy her. Which was odd, because he had plenty of personality quirks. He occasionally made her mad, but he never annoyed her.
That made her start thinking — what if it wasn't that people were annoying? What if it was just that she just wasn't kind, understanding, and loving? Thus began a journey wherein she tried to be loving instead of annoyed. She started to learn about forgiveness and righteous anger. But, as in all things, sometimes you need someone else's words to understand what you're trying to say.
So when her favorite DJ Brant Hansen wrote a book called Unoffendable: How Just One Change can make all of Life Better, she snagged it up and inhaled the words. The premise is simple but impossible. It's graduate-level forgiveness — not even forgiveness, but resolving not to take offense in the first place. We're told that righteous anger is a good thing. That justice needs anger to thrive. But that's not true. Anger burns hot and fast. But just like we don't need to experience bad stuff in order to grow, we don't have to get angry in order to do God's work.
And if we are really honest, most of our "righteous anger" isn't because of a justice issue. What are we much more likely to get mad about — that ISIS is murdering people or that someone cut us off in traffic? We get angry because we're insulted, inconvenienced, or we feel our rights have been denied. Jesus covers the insult bit in Matthew 5:38-42 when He talks about not returning evil for evil. Getting mad because we're inconvenienced is really, really common, but, if you think about it, it's also stupid. I'm angry because the clerk at Target is new and chatty and I have to wait an extra two minutes to check out? Offended because in his joy at finding a job he's cheerfully engaging? What's that about?
As for rights, God's idea of human rights is very different from ours. In fact, as believers, we have fewer rights than others. Not only do we not have the right to say whatever we want, our lives are not ours to command. Jesus bought us with a price; we are His. And we have no right to get angry about how He asks us to live or what we should experience.
Like I said, this is graduate-level forgiveness. I think before anyone can get to this point, they have to be in a place where they are comfortable looking at a situation and saying, "This hurts and it matters." The pain matters. The hurt is real and valid. There is a price to be paid. The spiritually mature then get to this impossible place where they can say, "You hurt me, and I will pay that price. I will forgive. I have the freedom to not respond in kind, and I choose to live out of that freedom."* Hurt often drives anger; what would happen if it drove a free-will choice to show Christ's love?
My sister posted a little rant about working out at people, and how if she mentioned she made it to the gym, it was not in an attempt to make someone else feel bad. The comments then devolved into accusations that I run at her and she bakes bread at me. But that's how we treat situations, isn't it? We get offended by someone else's blessings.
The unoffendable wouldn't react that way. I celebrate her garden, she celebrates my 5k. I celebrate my friend's new, huge house, she relies on my memory to make up for her chemo-brain. Actually, I think I talked about that, too.
Brant says to take it a step further. Don't be offended that your neighbors smoke pot. Don't be offended that your cousin swears. Especially if this behavior is a habit and you have every reason to expect it will continue! Be sad for them and acknowledge how their choices hurt their lives. But then be Jesus for them, so they learn there's something better.
What about real justice issues like trafficking and ISIS? Strangely enough, the more we reject anger, the more we're likely to actually do something about the issue at hand. Anger gives us a rush that expends energy and makes us feel like we've accomplishing something when really all we're doing is hurting our health. But the more we feel, the less likely we are to do. Why? Maybe we wear ourselves out. Maybe we get overwhelmed. Or maybe our frame of mind is just not in a place where we can actually be effective. And, as Brant points out, which would you prefer — a policeman or soldier motivated by compassion or anger? How is it that pictures of soldiers with kittens or sleeping with babies are so popular?
One point Brant made that really got me is that it's all well and good to be kind and forgiving to people because we start to see them as God sees them. But it's even more effective when we start to see ourselves as God sees us. If we really understood how much He loves us, how much He's for us, and how much He would love for us to work with Him, it makes all the difference in the world. I don't have to worry about my rights if I'm confident He's got it under control. I don't have to worry about other people's respect when I know I have His.
That's powerful stuff.
We are entering a summer filled with family and acquaintances who are both easily offended and easily offensive. By refusing to take offense, I know I'll be more relaxed. I'm hoping that I'll also quietly invite them into a better relationship with Christ.
So check out Brant Hansen's Unoffendable. Or, if you'd rather listen to a podcast, check it out here. But realize that the first half is the hardest and most convicting. Push through to the second half where he makes the first half look not only doable, but desirable. Imagine living a life where your first instinct is love instead of offense.
* While still involving civil authorities if the offense is a crime and taking steps to protect oneself from further harm if need be.
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Controversial-Issues | Hardships | Personal-Relationships | Sin-Evil
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