Do you know someone who isn’t easily offended?
Can you be that someone?
Brant Hansen says not only can we unoffendable, but we should be.
I must tell you: I absolutely love Hansen’s new book, Unoffendable. While we all know that we don’t need to harbor anger, this book takes it a step further and says we should altogether “forfeit our right to be offended.”
Will we still get angry? Of course.
But should we try to release it as quickly as possible? Definitely.
But why should we? Sometimes we like being angry, right? It feels justified. Anger can energize us and motivate us to act.
True. Yet is anger really the best motivating force for action? As believers in “God is love,” love is actually the best foundation for all our relationships, not anger.
“Choosing to be unoffendable, or relinquishing my right to anger, does not mean accepting injustice. It means actively seeking justice, and loving mercy, while walking humbly with God.
And that means remembering I’m not Him.
What a relief.”
So when we do feel anger—whether we count it as “righteous” or not—Hansen reminds us that God preaches we forgive whoever caused our anger. That doesn’t mean we ignore the offense or let it go with no consequences, but it does mean we let go of our claim to resentment.
“We struggle with trusting God to mete out justice. We’re afraid He won’t mete out justice, that people won’t get what they deserve. So perhaps our entitlement to anger is our little way of making sure some measure of ‘justice’ is served.”
Hansen also points out how tiring it can be to use our anger to discipline the world.
While it may seem easier at first—if someone doesn’t follow the “rules,” we get angry and let them know—in the end, it takes away our peace as we wrestle away control from God. Taking everything personally and being too defensive is quite the opposite of “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
“Quit thinking it’s up to you to police people, and that God needs you to ‘take a stand.’
God ‘needs’ nothing.
Quit trying to parent the whole world. Quit offering advice when exactly zero people asked for it. Quit being shocked with people don’t share your morality. Quit serving as judge and jury, in your own mind, of that person who just cut you off in traffic. Quit thinking you need to ‘discern’ what others’ motives are. And quit rehearsing in your mind what that other person did to you.
It’s all so exhausting.”
On the other hand, we have all been the ones who’ve made other people angry. I hate that feeling. When we are the ones who are apologizing, don’t we want other people’s anger to quickly go away? Just forgive me, please. I can be an idiot.
And when someone does forgive us quickly, aren’t we drawn to them even more?
“If you think people are drawn to you by an impressive religious resume, you’re in for a shock. When people are in crisis or need to know that God loves them, that they’re not alone, they don’t seek out the guy who thinks he’s Mr. Answer or who radiates superiority and disapproval. They want someone who loves God and who loves them.”
Perhaps we are most like God when we forgive. Once we let someone off our emotional hook, we can quit trying to manipulate them and trust God to do his transforming work on the inside of everybody involved.
Hansen says it’s changed how he views relationships:
“My goal with relationships is no longer to try to change people. It’s to introduce people to a God who is already reaching toward them, right where they are.
This changes everything. It means everyone is welcome, and not just theoretically, but really: everyone—no matter what their political or religious beliefs—is welcome in my home, at my table.”
But is it easy? No.
Letting go of our “right” to be angry doesn’t come naturally. But neither does accepting grace. Yet it is, oh, so worth it.
“God wants us to accept gifts. It takes humility to do it, which is why kids are much better than we are at this. No kid balks at a gift. No eight-year-old opens a PlayStation on Christmas morning and says, ‘No—I just can’t. I don’t deserve this. I am unworthy. No. Take it back.'”
As we accept our gift of “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus,” may we learn to condemn others less as well.
May we be less insulted by difficult people and instead be more loving.
“And while, yes, anger happens, as we discussed earlier, it happens so much less for people whose egos are not inflamed and who have so little to lose or gain from the approval of others.
Humility means there’s so much less at stake, so much less to protect.
You’ll become difficult to offend simply because there’s so much less of you to defend. When you are headed into a stressful social situation, with difficult, offensive people, and you decide in advance, ‘I’m not going to let these people offend me; I’m forgiving them in advance,’ you are dying to yourself. You are sacrificing yourself on their behalf.”
After reading this book, I notice more how easily offended I can be. And I don’t like it.
By the grace of God, I pray the Lord will continue to transform me more into his image, and less of my own. Life would be sweeter for all for us.
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Are you ever accused of being too sensitive? Are you too easily angered? Please share in the comments.
Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy of Unoffendable
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