“The English ask pardon of Aurangzeb, whom they have offended”
Picture published 1780
4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
When offense occurs, who is in the wrong? Don’t we automatically assume it is the one who caused the offense, known as the offender? Can one who was offended be the “cause” of the offense? You know, the Bible says that, yes, offenses run both ways!
Recently, I got an email from someone who was upset over something that UCG supposedly wrote in “all” of their articles. Well, that seems to me to be a bit of an exaggeration. However, I did find one thing that matched what they were saying in “Valentine’s Day: What’s Wrong With Showing Love?“, but I really, really had to look for it:
What about showing love on Valentine’s Day if I’m not doing it for pagan reasons? Isn’t that okay? No, because the expression of that kind of “love” is still rooted in a former pagan holiday. True Christians must not adopt pagan festivals as holidays, for they are to strive to please God in everything they do.
So, what was his take-away? That it was wrong to show “ANY love” at all on Valentine’s Day.
You know, I think he was offended. I am using “offense” in the biblical sense, BTW, which is far more problematic and dangerous than what we typically think of “offense”.
When people choose to be offended, they pick and choose words and phrases here and there, take them out of context and try to portray a distorted picture of just how terrible the other party is. You see activists and politicians doing this all the time. Mitt Romney had “binders” of women candidates. Who would have thought that a “binder” was so offensive? When someone criticizes President Barak Obama, it is taken out of context and the person is labeled a “racist”.
We see people picking and choosing the words of Herbert W Armstrong as well. I saw one that claimed that HWA stated there was no future King of the South — that that prophecy had been fulfilled. It took a lot of twisting to show this, seeing as many others have used the same words to show that at one point he thought that Ethiopia was the King of the South. Others pick and choose his words in order to become upset and offended over things, however. They need someone to blame, and blaming a dead man is pretty convenient since he cannot talk back.
You know, we may call some people overly-sensitive, but what comes to my mind is that they are looking for a fight. It is like walking around with a chip on your shoulder, daring people to knock it off, and then going out of your way to cause a stir when someone does, whether or not it was intentional.
Let’s state this clearly: That is not the attitude of a converted Christian.
As far as the UCG article goes, that paragraph was poorly written. If I were to pick out just that paragraph and concentrate upon it, I could easily become critical about it. However poorly written it was, that should not negate the other statements in the article, including one just six short paragraphs earlier:
There’s nothing wrong in showing love to others–after all, isn’t that the most valued Christian characteristic? But what’s been lost in how we go about it, and how we worship God for that matter, is whether we are actually following what God teaches in the Bible.
Showing love as God instructs is not wrong–romantic love included. It’s a good thing to express your love toward others through a card, flowers, dinner out or any number of other ways. But don’t do it under the trappings of a pagan holiday like Valentine’s Day! If someone is special to you, then do those things throughout the year rather than waiting until February 14th.
IOW, showing love God’s way is what matters. Isn’t that the main point of the article? Waiting for 14 February and treating it as a special day to show love is not part of God’s way. However, is there anything in the article that says to not kiss your spouse on Valentine’s Day? Not say, “I love you”? In fact, is there any day you should not tell your spouse that you love them?
I am reminded of something I was told growing up. Don’t go out the door to go to town or somewhere without telling those you love that you love them. You never know when it will be your last chance. Should I suddenly stop doing that because of what the rest of the world does? Ludicrous! I sincerely doubt that was what UCG had in mind either.
Ezra stood on a pulpit of wood (Neh 8:4). There are some who say that pagans do that as well, so we should not do that. Are we to stop doing everything that pagans do? Should we stop using a toilet because pagans use toilets?
It reminds me of the annual controversy over some of the winter family activities that occur around Christmas. People charge that groups are “observing” Christmas because it occurs around that time, as though life was supposed to stop and all COG congregations were to get off the planet for one day. If people stayed at home and put up with the difficult relationships with those who do not understand, which is what used to happen, then people level criticism about how boring unfair and stuffy we are.
You cannot win. If people want to nitpick, they will find something “wrong”! The religious leaders of Jesus day found lots to criticize Him about!
In fact, the Puritans used to fast on Christmas Day, as they understood it to be a pagan holiday. They outlawed Christmas, even. I once mentioned that the Puritans fasted on Christmas to a man, and you want to know what his response was? “So, they ‘observed’ Christmas by fasting?”
I look back at incidents like that, and I am not surprised when they leave the Church.
Is there any wonder I harp so much on discernment on this blog?
Yet, when we think of offenses, we usually think about the one causing offense to be the one in the wrong, and I am going to show you that the Bible says something completely different!
Child’s War, aka “The Company’s Mughal War, lasted 1686 to 1690. John Keay’s India: A History says on pp 371-372:
It brought glory to no one. In Bengal, after a fracas in the Mughal port of Hughli, the English withdrew downriver, landed themselves at the spot which they later called Calcutta, then next year evacuated it. This performance was repeated in 1688–9 as the ‘war’ took a more serious turn elsewhere….
In early 1689 Sidi Yakub, the African who commanded a west coast fleet which served as the Mughal marine, took Bombay island completely by surprise. The English were besieged in Bombay Castle for most of the year and eventually capitulated.
The Company’s ‘envoys’, who in 1690 journeyed up to the imperial encampment to plead for pardon, did so with their hands tied in more ways than one. As a further indignity they were made to prostrate themselves before the emperor. But Aurangzeb was not unaware of the value of their trade nor of the danger of their making common cause with the Marathas. For a massive indemnity and promises of better conduct in future, he graciously agreed to the restoration of their trading privileges and the withdrawal of his troops. In the same spirit of forgive and forget the Company’s Bengal establishment was allowed to return to the Hughli river where in 1690 it made a permanent settlement at Calcutta and began the fortifications of its ‘Fort William’. With the first Anglo-Indian war having been so decisively won by the Mughal empire, there was no mention of the farman [an imperial order, in this case for trade and status throughout the realm].
I came across this story while preparing for this article, and it struck me how well it fit into the theme of being offended. It is puzzling to me why Sir Josiah Child interfered with company business to begin with, and his actions certainly had a lot to do with causing the fallout that came afterwards. In the end, though Aurangzeb prevailed and Child did not.
So, let’s ask some questions:
- What would have been the outcome if the English were not willing to submit and humble themselves to Aurangzeb?
- What would have been the outcome if Aurangzeb decided to not forgive and forget but hold the actions of his enemies against them the rest of his life?
- In either party continued to be offended, then who would have prospered? Anyone?
How Do You Choose to React?
We choose our reactions. Jojog Devotionals recently posted in “Reactions” how some choose anger. Simeon and Levi were brothers that allowed their rage to get the best of them, putting the entire family in danger.
I want to take it even further, however. We choose to love, do we not? We choose to hate, do we not? If the answer to these is “No”, then we are admitting that we are slaves to our emotions. If we do not control our emotions, then our heart takes over, and the heart can indeed be a cruel dictator!
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
~ Jer 17:9
Untamed and uncontrolled emotions will not result in godly behavior! That goes for anger, love, hate and even being offended.
Playing the Victim Game
This society has spawned professional victims. People make a living by being offended and inciting others to feel offended. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Anne Coulter, Michelle Malkin and many others will be sure to feign offense over something and fan the flames of discontent whenever and wherever possible.
Last week, headlines were made over a statement by “Clarence Thomas: Society is overly sensitive about race“.
“My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up,” Thomas said during a chapel service hosted by the nondenominational Christian university. “Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out.
“That’s a part of the deal,” he added.
It seems that the more that America becomes enamored with “tolerance”, the more intolerant it actually becomes. It’s not just the US, either. Canadian speedskater Brittany Schussier found this out and “Canadian athlete deletes selfie with Vladimir Putin after backlash from back home“. She took a selfie with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and she tweeted the photo with the joke, “I should’ve asked him to be my Valentine”. The reaction was swift and strong, so she took it down.
However, that did not stop the madness. Someone put it back up, and the hateful comments continued. Just one example: “I find hanging out with dictators who persecute lgbt folk hilarious! You owe so many an apology. Get informed”.
Let’s see, she’s in Russia, and the Russian President walks in, so what is she supposed to do? Spit in his face?
Jesus is offensive to many people. The idea that there is only one path to eternal life is offensive to many. The Gospel is offensive. Jesus’ message was so offensive, in fact, that they killed Him over it!
12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Is it any wonder that Paul wrote to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” (Ro 1:16)? The Gospel is offensive to unbelievers!
11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
~ Gal 5:11
Yet, didn’t Jesus warn about causing offense? Yes, He did! However, perhaps we should look at this while keeping these others in mind!
17 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
Jesus promised offenses would occur!
What are “offences”? It comes from Strong’s G4625, skandalon. If you are thinking, “That sounds a lot like the English word ‘scandal'”, you would be correct! “Scandal” comes from skandalon. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, in the 1580s, “scandal” meant “discredit caused by irreligious conduct”.
Not only that, but skandalon according to Strong’s means “the movable stick or trigger of a trap, a trap stick…, a trap, snare”!
So, let me ask the important question: “Through whom” can scandalous behavior come? Hopefully, it should be clear that it could be either party!
More to the point, what did Jesus do wrong? Did He do anything wrong? No, because He was the one and only perfect human being! Therefore, who was at fault if they got offended? It should be clear that the religious leaders of His day chose to be offended! It was their choice!
Right Action When Offended, David’s Example
Still, offenses will come, so what to do? One thing that passage and its companion Matthew 18:15-17 points out, you need to go to your brother or sister and work it out!
Of course, that is not always possible, or they may not want to listen. It should also be clear that this is not the only thing you need to do!
King David had a pretty rough life. He was hunted and persecuted more than probably any one of us. His Psalms are full of his woes! The types of situations he was in rarely lent itself to stopping, talking and working it out. Many times, his very life was in danger!
So, what did he do? He took it to God! He candidly opened up and expressed his feelings and problems to God, and God recorded them! He put it all into God’s hands.
Once you pass something off to God, holding a grudge or holding onto resentment means you are taking it back! That’s just not right!
Yes, it is a hackneyed saying, but you need to “Let go, and let God!”
It strikes me that the opposite of offense is forgiveness. Think about what that means. Who forgives? The offender or the offendee? If both parties in a dispute do not forgive, the circle is not actually complete, although the one who does forgive has fulfilled what is required of them.
So, I sat down and prayed about the situation, and I sent off a polite email to UCG about their article. Whether they listen or not, I have done my part in that regard. Seems to me, that is what my email correspondent should have done. Perhaps he will read this, and he can compose his own polite email.
Jesus said offenses would come. There would be times when relationships would break down, but we must try to patch them up and get along with each other before God. We must do it God’s way, but we also must not allow ourselves to be looking for things to be offended about.