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Non-Offensive Christianity If someone was to ask you or me what constitutes Christian character what would we say?

Off the top of our head we would most likely say love for God and our fellowman and faith in the Lord Jesus. As we thought about it more intently we would add things like the fruit of the spirit, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (Gal. 5:22-23 NKJV) We might recall Peter's admonition to add to our faith virtue and godliness in 2 Peter 1. No doubt we would add humility (1 Peter 5:5), mercy and meekness (Col. 3:12), thankfulness (Col. 3:15), and truthfulness (Eph. 4:25) to our list and our list would still not be all inclusive of the good things to be found in Christian character at its best. It is hard to look back over this list and see anything that should offend anyone. It is certainly not the Christian's desire to offend. The word of God teaches the Christian to "pursue peace with all men" (Heb. 12:14 NKJV), "to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men" (Titus 3:2 NKJV), and "as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom. 12:18 NKJV). How is it then when it is the Christian's desire to be non-offensive to others and he/she has good character that the Christian ends up offending so many? The answer lies in what the Christian believes. The very fact the Christian believes what he does is offensive to many. To whom you might ask? To those who believe otherwise —to the Islamist, to the atheist, to the secularist, to the communist, to those who will not believe and obey the gospel and live faithfully, etc. The very fact one is a Christian instead of what they are tells them the Christian has judged his belief superior to their own. That is offensive to them. If the Christian believes it is a violation of God's law to live a life of fornication who is likely to be offended by that belief? To ask is to answer—the fornicator, to those who see sex as a sort of human right married or not. If the Christian was to speak up against living together outside of marriage how many friends do you think he would make in the world we live in today here in America? Not many. If he speaks up it is said he is making himself a judge and just causing trouble. He is considered harsh and intolerant (as though God would tolerate the sin). If the Christian considers drunkenness to be sinful who is likely to be offended by that belief if not the one who likes to drink to drunkenness? You can go right down the list of what the Bible calls sins, name them one by one, and ask the same kind of question and get the same kind of answer. Christian beliefs themselves are offensive to many--to a great, great many—no matter what subject you end up talking about. It is not so much what the Christian does that is so offensive but what he believes. Jesus said we would be judged by the word of God (John 12:48) and God's word does offend many by limiting their freedom to sin without rebuke. The word rebukes them. If you believe the word

then that is a rebuke to them and that is offensive. You offend them because of what you believe about the word, namely, that it is the truth. Jesus said on one occasion, "The world…hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil." (John 7:7 NKJV) Do you think the sinner wants to hear or be told that his works (his sins) are evil? The minute the Christian speaks up against a sin he puts himself in company with Jesus and the world will hate him too just like it hated Jesus. The men and women of the world want not only the silence of the Christian but even more than that, they want the Christian's approval of their lifestyle. They basically desire the Christian give up his faith and deny the word of God. Jesus said on one occasion to those who sought to kill him, "You seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you." (John 8:37 NKJV) When God's word has no place in a man then given the right circumstances and provocations, as the man sees them, there is no limits to the depths of sin that it can lead a man to? The word of God places boundaries upon men, boundaries that do not satisfy those of a worldly bent, but boundaries that keep men from the evil which men are capable of doing when at their worst. The Christian respects God's fences (boundaries) but the man of the world whose desires are for the world rips the fences to pieces. The world thus often puts the Christian in a spot that if he had his choice he would rather not be in. No one who has had any upbringing about him wants to be offensive to others. We all desire the friendship of others and their affection, we want friends not enemies, and let us be honest even if a person is worldly it does not mean they are unlikeable. Many have very winning personalities. Many would do anything for you if you have become friends with them over the years. They are often not bad people measured by the standards of the everyday world but the problem is the Christian can have only one standard and that standard is not the standard of everyday worldly life. Paul gave us all words of wisdom when he said, "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (2 Cor. 10:12 NKJV) Christ is the only acceptable standard a Christian can have. The goal and the desire is not to be the best of the average of everyday people but to be Christ-like. Our desire is to be saved and in order to be saved we must live like Christ and not like the average of men. We must seek to please God, not man. "If I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Gal. 1:10 NKJV) The command of God is, "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord." (2 Cor. 6:17 NKJV) The condemnation of one group of believers in Christ lay at this very point. "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for

they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John 12:42-42 NKJV) Thus we come to the fork in the road where we must make a decision. What will it be? Will we go with God and his word or will we go with the majority of men? Will we offend God or will we offend man for that is what it comes down to? No matter how much you and I desire the salvation of all men we do not desire it any more than God does. God is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV) He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4 NKJV) He loved the world (mankind) so much he gave his only begotten son that man might be saved (John 3:16). Nevertheless, the Bible teaches "narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matt. 7:14 NKJV) Now let me ask a question. If God is so desirous of men being saved why is the gate to life so narrow and the way to life so difficult? (Matt. 7:14) The gate is narrow and the way is difficult because man finds it hard to accept God's will, believe it, and obey it. Put another way man finds it difficult to bring his will into subjection to God's will. Anyone and everyone could be saved, God does not show partiality, but God is God and man is often and generally unwilling to accept salvation on God's terms. It is offensive to man. What does please man is the way that seems right to man. But, what is the end of that way? "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Prov. 14:12 NKJV) Even among those the world calls Christians (whether they are or not God will judge based on his word) very, very few are willing to accept that a child of faith must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins despite Peter's exact words to that effect. "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38 NKJV) He had to be mistaken, he could not have meant it, it is offensive, the very thought is offensive. We want non-offensive Christianity. Non-offensive Christianity demands disregard for the word of God. With non-offensive Christianity we can have, I recently read, 34,000 Christian denominations (A Short History of Christianity, Stephen Tomkins, page 245). With denominationalism everyone gets what they want, the church of their choice; all will be saved no matter what group they are with as long as they in the broadest sense of the term "believe" in Jesus and thus no one is offended—non-offensive Christianity. No one is offended because in the end denominationalism means doctrine does not matter. You read it the way you want, I read it the way I want, we are both saved, it doesn't matter which one of us had the truth.

That sounds to me like a wide gate and a broad way. If I am wrong and that is actually the narrow gate and difficult way that leads to life then tell me how many denominations we would have to have to have a broad way? Would a hundred thousand do it or would it take more like a million? When one can find the church of his choice, rather than God's choice, you have non-offensive Christianity. There is no doubt that the tender heart that does not want to offend people is good in its attitude toward the feelings of others but the truth of life, all of life, is that man must make choices and in making choices will inevitably offend. There are gentle hearted people who sincerely want to please everyone, not be offensive to any, and who want to stay out of all fights and disagreements and they are thus unwilling to take sides and take a stand. They just want to be left alone and left out of any disagreements or unpleasantness but isn't that the desire of most of us? We want peace not strife. We want less stress in our life, not more. But there is a problem. Life just does not work that way. We cannot stay on the sidelines forever. In failing to choose sides we choose the side by default that is most likely to be wrong, the side of the majority. If the broad way has most of the people in it (according to the Lord it does— Matt. 7:13-14) and that is the way of destruction then my choice by default is not going to work out well for me. It is true enough in this life a majority position is the most popular and the least likely to cause you strife in the here and now but it is also the damning position on the Day of Judgment. On that day you want to be a part of the minority, not the majority. Paul, speaking by inspiration, says, "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12 NKJV) Who is this person who is suffering persecution? Is it the non-offensive Christian? If he is non-offensive why is he being persecuted? The truth is you cannot be a faithful Christian without offending many. You will offend because you will take a side, the side offensive to the world and to much of Christendom. God calls us to take sides and he gives us no middle ground. It does not matter if we would prefer to not take a side for that is not given to us as an option. We will either believe or we will disbelieve. We will either repent of sin or we will not. We will either be baptized for the remission of sins or we will not be baptized for the remission of sins. We will either be obedient in life or we will be disobedient. We will either battle Satan or we will not battle Satan. God's choices are only two fold. They are either/or. Eve only had two choices, not a half dozen. Yes, this may sound hard and harsh to some. God is a demanding God but what are you going to do about it? Are you strong enough to take on God and win? "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad." (Matt. 12:30 NKJV) It is either/or, there is no other option given. We must

"contend earnestly for the faith." (Jude 3 NKJV) We must "fight the good fight of faith." (1 Tim. 6:12 NKJV) Why? Because it is either/or. God commanded it and we either will obey or we will disobey. There is no third option given. That is the life we live. We can please the majority of men now by not taking sides, setting on the sidelines, giving the world no opposition, but in doing so we have taken the default position which is the devil's majority position--the broad way. We might say we did not ask to get put in this position. No we did not ask to be put in this position but God saw fit to place us here. We are his creation. Are we going to fight against God or put on the armor he has given us and go to battle (see Eph. 6:11-17)? My parents did not ask for the poverty of the Great Depression and then WW II but that is where they found themselves. The wise man takes a look around to see where he is at and the best course to pursue rather than moan, groan, and complain about where he finds himself. God will give us rest and peace in due time in a place where there is no strife or battle but that is then and this is now. Those who are overly meek and quiet need to put on the Lord's battle armor and go to war for the time being so they can have peace in a later time, the hereafter. It is an either/or choice, you either do it or you don't. Your future depends on your decision. Do not delude yourself into thinking there is such a thing as not taking sides and setting on the sidelines for that is Satan's default position. That is Satan's side.