“I mean no offense, but…”

I have a friend who is a newspaper reporter. His wife is a copy editor. She is smart, funny, and cute as a bug. My friend fell hard for her when they met in journalism school, and latched on the first chance he got.

But from my experience with other copy editors over the years, she is the exception to the rule. Case in point: there was a certain word processor at my firm who spent years in the book publishing business. She had a very good eye for what proper text should look like, how it should read. But unfortunately, she had absolutely no idea how she was “read” by others. She took little or no thought of her appearance (I’m trying not to be cruel here, but there it is anyway), was rude and abrasive and completely unbendable in her ways. Even though she had no actual authority as to how “things should be done around here,” she acted as if she not only knew such things, but that everyone else around her was an idiot – including me.

Hence, she was not very well-liked among her coworkers. No one was sad when she left for another position.

I do not know where she is spiritually, but I would not at all be surprised to find out that she is devoutly religious. Why, you ask? Because some of the most offensive people I know are religious.

I once met one the Rainbow Head guys who sits in the end-zone at football games. He sported a t-shirt that had JOHN 3:16 printed on the front, and REPENT on the back. I asked him where he got the inspiration to do this for a living. He said he felt called. Then he posed for a picture with me. Several others did the same while I was there.

By way of confession, I had a t-shirt made when I was in junior high that read GET RIGHT OR GET LEFT. I enjoyed the look on people’s faces when they asked me to explain it to them, since they obviously didn’t get it.

One of my college roommates experienced a dramatic conversion about a year before I met him. Sex, drugs and rock & roll were going to kill or imprison him if Christ hadn’t intervened. He was grateful for his new life, and was more than happy to confront anyone who wasn’t doing the same. I once caught him with a group of his church friends, praying for my lukewarm spirit. He used to say, “Jesus was bold. I need to be bold for Christ.” Before he was a Christian, he was willing to fight anyone in his way. As a Christian, he was willing to Bible bash with the same verve.

How do you present yourself? How does the world “read” us as Christians?

I think too many believers mistake being bold for Christ with being – I’m trying to be delicate here – butt heads. It’s almost as if they (we… I) believe that being a Christian means having the license to be offensive along with the Offense of the Gospel. The “tribulation” they (we… I) receive is validation of being faithful to the Message.

Meadow Muffins!, as Sherman Potter would say.

Children of God, the Gospel doesn’t need our help in being offensive (in fact, it doesn’t really need our help at all, but that’s another post). To couch ostentatious in religious fervor is not what Paul had in mind when he said that he is “all things to all people, so that by all means I might win some.”

We don’t need to be puppy dogs. There’s a place to be bold. But odds are, most of the time we think we’re being bold for Christ, we’re just offensive. Stop it.

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