10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. (Matthew 24:10, King James Version)
I’m still not sure if Craig’s List is worth anything, to be honest with you. The rules seem arbitrary for posting on it, and all I get for my effort is spam. Well, I tried to abide by the rules, but it still seems that a couple of my ads were flagged. They don’t tell you why, either, which makes it pretty annoying. No, you either have to re-read the TOS or go to a forum to ask why. It doesn’t seem very efficient to me.
So, I end up at the forum. One of the posts was by a church who had their ad flagged. One responder asked them why, if they really were a 501(c)(3), didn’t they put the church name in the ad. The response was surprising. Apparently, they did do something like that once, and a nearby larger church’s members sent them hate email after posting an ad.
It is sad that people who call themselves “Christian” would act this way. It is sobering to think that brethren can be offended with one another or intentionally offensive to others, but we saw that in the 1990s as well. Some were so offended that they stopped going, stopped believing in Christianity and even carry hostility to this day.
Yet, offense is a 2-edged sword.
On the one hand, we are to not offend:
42And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42, King James Version)
However, those who are not offended in their walk with Christ will be blessed:
6And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Matthew 11:6, King James Version)
We know offenses will come (Mt 18:7), but we need to ensure we are not the ones causing them whenever possible (Ro 12:18). Still, the righteous are to not be offended (Ps 199:165).
Offenses can lead to bitterness, and I’m sure some of you have seen as much online. The author of Hebrews says bitterness defiles a person (Heb 12:15). “Bitter” in KJV English is often equated with “poisonous”. The word for “defiled”, G3392, means “contaminated” or “polluted”. Literally, offenses can lead to becoming polluted with poisonous attitudes.
So, yeah, some ministers have done wrong to brethren. Some do wrong to this day. So, perhaps a person feels they have a “right” to feel the way they do. From a human standpoint, perhaps they do. From God’s standpoint, though, you do not have a right to turn your back on true Christianity because of slighted feelings.
You do have a responsibility, though. You should separate yourself from anything that cause you to sin (Mt 5:29-30). That may mean in some cases going to a different congregation if there is blatant abuse in one location. Just be careful that you aren’t the one with the bigger problem first (Mt 7:1-5).
If you examine yourself, if you go to your brother to work things out, and things are still poisonous, then you do have one right left: Go to your Father (Heb 4:16). Remember Who is the Judge of all the earth.
In the end, though, you are not responsible for the attitude of another, but God will hold you accountable for your own. You are promised persecution, in fact (Mt 24:9-11). However, you must ensure that your love does not grow cold as a result (vv 12-13).
Ultimately, Jesus Christ was betrayed, left alone, beaten and killed. Yet, He, while still on the stake, said, “Father, forgive them” (Lk 23:24).