It seems that the entire world is "offended" lately. We walk around afraid that we might "say" something that will offend someone else while we are clueless to what we have done. We used to call it "hurt feelings," but "offense" sounds so much more sophisticated.
Offense is something that can happen even when nothing offensive was intended! For example, once I happened to laughingly say to a group of people "Oh, you people have too much time on your hands. Can you please watch my students while I run to the restroom..." Now, by "you people", I was referring to the group of people sitting in front of me discussing some tv show that was popular at the time. It really did not occur to me that the entire group happened to be of a different race than me, but after I walked away, someone in the group took an "offense". Thankfully another person in the group helped me out. They basically said, "Come on - this is Donna. You know she didn't mean that." Someone mistook something I said off-handedly to be somehow directed toward them in a negative way.
That was on my mind this morning (for different reasons) when I started thinking about the word, "offense." Offense means something that causes another person to be hurt or angry, or it can mean an illegal act, but it also can have a very positive meaning...just ask my son.
My son has played football for a number of years now and to begin with, he found himself on the defensive team, and he didn't really like it. He wanted nothing more than to play offense, specifically he wanted to carry the ball. He appreciated the job the defense did, but HE wanted to play offense! No matter how good the defense is, it was the offense that moved the ball down the field for the score.
Watching my son play offense has been a real learning experience for this mom. My prayer life has definitely INCREASED because every time he is on that field, someone is out to hit him. It's the other team's job to keep him from making progress, sometimes quite violently! While he does not like the "dirty teams" that he has played, I have never heard him complain about the other team doing their job. He has come home covered with bruises, and left a few on the other team as well, and not once has he whined that the other team was trying to keep him from advancing. If anything, he just worked harder to get strong enough to break through the opposing line!
What would happen if instead of thinking of offense as being "unfair" we considered it our chance to become stronger?
We shouldn't really be surprised when life is tough. The Bible tells us to consider it all JOY when tests and trials come our way because they make us stronger. I wonder if my son thinks it's a joy when the other team blocks him? It definitely means they see him as a threat!
Maybe it's time to rethink our ideas about offense. Maybe it's time we focused on seeing offense not as something that happens to us. It will come, especially if we are living life; just don't take it personally. I've watched my son actually help another player off the ground and then congratulate him for making a good play, and they have done the same. What would it be like if we did that in everyday life?
I realize there is the verse that says if something we do offends another, we should avoid it, but that seems to be speaking about other believers who may not yet be mature in their faith. (1 Cor. 8) Keeping that in mind, I don't want to offend nor do I want to be the one offended! Just as my son doesn't want to trip up another player on his team, he also doesn't want to be tripped! We should expect that as believers we will all be working together toward the same goal - growing in Christ!
I've got a LONG way to go before I can walk the walk of being on the offense and still not taking offense, but I'm ready to give it a try. I'm no longer content to simply be on defense, I'm ready to make progress.
One last point that probably comes from the "English teacher" in me. Maybe the difference in it all lies in a tiny little article-adjective, the difference between "an" and "the". It's time to stop taking "an" offense but to instead take "the" offense. I am in no way out to be hurtful to anyone around me, and honestly I need to realize that others aren't going out of their way to be hurtful to me. Should the opportunities come to take an offense instead of the offense, I will choose to realize it must mean that the enemy of my soul sees me as a threat, and I'm okay with that.
I really hope that you don't find that "offensive."