While it’s true that people will be offended by Jesus and His Word. . . it’s also true that people will be offended if you communicate in a harsh, abrasive, abusive, cold, condescending, bossy, demeaning and arrogant manner.
The Word of God is already sharper than a double-edge sword. It penetrates the human heart and divides between soul and spirit, joint and marrow, and exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. The Word can be offensive on its own.
There is no need to be unnecessarily offensive by communicating in a cut-throat, loveless, incompassionate, snobbish manner.
Yet many religious leaders and Christians communicate this way, and then they wonder why people don’t like them, don’t want to be around them, don’t want to get to know them, don’t want to be their friend, don’t like hearing them teach and preach, snap right back at them and go off on them, don’t have good things to say about them, and put them on ignore.
It’s not because they are being “persecuted.” It’s not because they are “suffering for righteousness’ sake.” It’s not because their hearers are offended by the Gospel and the Word of God. It’s not because their hearers are convicted by the Holy Spirit.
It’s because many religious leaders and Christians do not know how to communicate in a gracious and respectful manner. Their speech is not seasoned with salt (grace), it is dripping with acid.
Sometimes we think that people plug up their ears because they don’t want to hear the truth or because they are offended by the word, but sometimes it’s because our words sound like a (((crashing cymbal))) hurting their eardrum.
If you club people over the head with Scripture and religious gobbledeegook and pontificate from a pedestal, don’t be surprised when people get offended.
It’s not always because people are offended by the Word, living in sin, or persecuting you. Sometimes it is because the messenger is mean, nasty, brutish, prideful, elitist, annoying, overly confrontational (i.e., always looking for a theological fight), a bully, belittles people, YELLS AT THEM, and lacks communication skills in general.
Speaking the truth is *not* loving when the truth is not spoken *in love*
Speaking the truth in love doesn’t mean editing the Gospel, watering down the Word, or sugar-coating the truth.
Speaking the truth in love doesn’t mean that we have to pretend to be happy and plaster a smile on our face every time we share the Word.
Speaking the truth in love doesn’t mean that we have to deliver the Word with flattery and glowing compliments.
Speaking the truth in love doesn’t mean coddling people in their sins and errors, tolerating sin and false teaching, and being overly sentimental, gushy, disingenuous, and speaking to people like they’re little babies.
Speaking the truth in love means sharing the unadulterated truth with reverence for God, humility, as ambassadors who represent Christ, and with respect and compassion for the person/people we are talking to.
Of course, some people will accuse us of being “unloving” no matter how respectfully we communicate. Even if Jesus Himself appeared to them and proclaimed the Word of God verbatim, they would accuse Him of being “unloving.” There is nothing we can do about people that. But there is something we can do about the way we communicate. Are you working on this? Me too.