The Offensive Brother

You’re not long in the family before you notice a brother or sister that tells it like it is and if they happen to offend you, it’s because you can’t handle the truth. And don’t you know, God doesn’t pull punches because of your feelings, either?

You wince when they open their mouth. As sure as hip young people have to have a smart phone made by child laborers in the heaviest polluting countries of the world, their topic of choice will be high on polarizing and low on sensitivity.

Homosexuality is an abomination? Yeah, that’s what we should talk about.

Abortion is murder? That will go well with a fellowship meal after worship.

Obama isn’t a Christian? That’s better that talking about some kid’s softball game.

You suck it up until you or someone else finally calls them on the carpet. Why do you always choose the most offensive topics? What does this have to do with what we’re talking about? How does this help us worship, right now?

And to relieve that wincing discomfort, you want to join in, but . . .

What exactly are you attacking? Are they saying anything false? Even if we accept that some—some—abortion might be in self-defense, we’re talking percentages so low that your swallowing the camel as you strain for the fly. Is homosexuality an abomination? Yes, that’s God’s word, not mine. Of course He also calls eating pig and sleeping with a woman on her period an abomination. That doesn’t downgrade ‘abomination’, its just a warning that hypocrisy might be in the air.

Is Obama a Christian? Well the evidence that he is seems to be on par with the case that Robert Downey Jr. is actually a genius with a super-powered suit, whose friends include a green monster and a blond god with a glowing hammer. 

But truth isn’t everythin! What about speaking in love!?!?

I get that, but Yeshua isn’t the pasty nice guy from all the pictures. Or did you forget He called a woman a dog?

Yes, but He didn’t really mean it. He was making a point.

So . . . then offense is okay to make a point. Did He call his own disciples foolish and slow of heart?

Yes, but . . .

So, then perfect love can sometimes be insulting and critical, true?

Well . . .

Did Elijah make fun of the priests of false gods?

Yes, but . . .

So mockery is okay for a guy ‘good enough’ to get taken to Heaven without dying.

Yes, but the pattern? Doesn’t this show someone’s heart is in the wrong place, that they keep being offensive?

Oh, good. We’ve moved into the well worn area of judging someone heart. I’m only being half-sarcastic. Despite what is commonly taught we are supposed to judge one another’s heart. How can you rebuke sin in your brother, if you can’t discern where their heart? What is the difference between inordinate affection and brotherly affection, without the heart? The difference between cursing and warning? The difference between striking in anger and accidentally striking, without a conclusion on motive?

But to discern righteously, something that cannot be seen, you must rely more on something that cannot be seen, so you must be more careful and more prayerful.. It requires a knowing of the person, listening to the person. The mere fact that someone does something offensive to see the shape of the heart.

Righteous judgment forces a brother to ask really hard questions and not judge from the surface. Is my brother saying something untrue or unloving? Or am I offended out of envy because they are brave and I, a man-pleaser?

Not only can’t I condemn because of offense, I have to admit that sometimes the right course is offensive, apparently foolish and often futile. God deliberately sent prophets knowing their fate would be terrible on Earth because of His message, and that that message would be ignored. So how can I condemn simply because he makes me uncomfortable?

I can question his heart. I can confront him, challenge whether this is for God or out of some bitterness or frustration in his life, but I have to tread very carefully before I ask him to keep silent.

Understand this isn’t the practice of gritted teeth. It’s active; I have to push back. “Brother, I understand you have a message to deliver. I’m not hear to silence you or work against whatever work God has for you, but we also have a work, and here we’re trying to worship God and give Him praise. Does it help you, to focus on how good God is, when you’re preaching about how evil the world is? We already know that, and we see it day by day, but this is Shabbat, can we leave that aside for a couple of hours and have a time of rest and refreshment? Can we look at God’s goodness for awhile and not the abomination of those who don’t know him?”

You’re actually helping the brother to speak what they are called to speak, but also asking them to help you with your work. How many times was Yeshua offended by His disciples, and yet, did He tell them to shut up and sit down? Or did He push back? “Get thee behind me, Satan.” “You know not of what spirit you are.”

Distinguish between what YHVH teaches is sin, and what simply makes you uncomfortable.   

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