Beginning this new series, Pastor Phyl quoted from the song Majesty by Delirious, “Forever I am changed by your love”. He told us that we are forever changed by God, because with faith in Him, comes the ability to not be afraid. God tells us numerous times in His word, that we need not be afraid. In fact, in 1John 4:18, it says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”. God makes us perfect, through His love for us. He makes it so that we need not fear.
Pastor Phyl said that he wanted to introduce us to the three responses to perceived threat: Fight, Flight, and Freeze. Most people have heard of the first two of these, but not the third. The truth is, there are some situations, in which fight, or flight are not viable options. In these circumstances, some people learn to freeze, in order to protect themselves.
Fight, flight, and freeze all have their roots in fear, yet we read that “perfect love casts out fear”. As people, we live in fear so often. Fear and anxiety can be crippling. It can consume thoughts, and minds and how we think. The enemy wants us to live in constant fear.
When we read these words in scripture, we can feel that it’s easy for Jesus to say not to worry, but we have different issues and crises that come against us, and in those moments, it is really hard to let go of fear.
Emotions are very real things, and are governed by our thought life. The Bible is real about emotions. Within the pages, we see anger, sorrow, anguish, among others.
Pastor Phyl challenged us to “get real” about fear, and told us that he was going to bring up a difficult concept, and the title of his message: Unoffendable.
“I’m offended”. How many times have we heard that phrase? The range and spans of what people get offended by nowadays is immense. They can be the slightest things, that really, are completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, though they can seem huge to the person who’s offended. The truth is that the enemy wants us to be offended. If we are offended, then it gives the enemy a foothold; a small crack in our armour that he can start to chip away at, and before we know it, we are not walking with God, but with the enemy instead. What we really need to do is to walk in power with Christ, in a place of love and freedom and liberty.
Pastor Phyl proceeded to give an example of how even facts can cause offence, saying that if he were to post on social media the observation “Isn’t Donald Trump doing a great job?” and follow it with three facts about America since he came into power, then it would be almost guaranteed to offend people. In explaining the facts to illustrate his point, it is clear to see that what Pastor Phyl was saying was in fact true, to some extent, but can you imagine how many people would be offended by it?
People get offended by so many different things, most of which are actually quite trivial, and often it becomes a battle between people who are unable to accept others’ opinions, and who expect other people to change their views to suit them. People have all these opinions, and can be so sensitive. The dictionary definition of the word “Offended” means, “To become resentful or annoyed, typically by a perceived insult”. The key word here is “perceived”. In today’s society, we are even required to temper how we look at people. Our world has become fearful.
We need to change this. We need to change the way we think about people and behavious. As Christians, we need to learn to be mature in these things. We can’t live a life of extremes. We mustn’t be over sensitive, but that being said, we must be permitted to challenge things. Pastor Phyl used the illustration of being out walking and seeing someone littering, and how it is ok to call them out on this behaviour. The key, in Pastor Phyl’s words, is “Don’t be a jerk, but don’t be a doormat either”.
Steven Covey says “Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” To become annoyed and resentful, is generally more about us than the person we claim to be offended by. We determine that response. We have a choice, whether it be action, or words, we determine whether we will be offended or not.
There are times when we can get so emotionally caught up in situations that our responses can become extreme. Here, we are talking about certain pains that we give space to in our hearts, when it isn’t warranted. This gives the enemy a foothold.
Looking at scripture, we see that Jesus, when He was dying on the cross, chose to forgive, rather than to get offended, when He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” in Luke 23:34.
When we process information in a certain way, we can give ourselves the opportunity to get offended. In closing his sermon, Pastor Phyl asked us whether we could put God in the place of offence in our hearts and be “forever changed” by His love, as it says in the song.
Let us let His love be so deep in our hearts, to the point where we become unoffendable. Let us decide to cultivate our hearts rather than allowing the fear responses of fight, flight and freeze to take root there.
God is always in control; it is up to us to merely guard our hearts and to trust Him.
Scriptures: 1 John 4:18, Luke 23:34