Offensive Christianity by Dave Kahle

April 18, 2024
 

Too many Christians hide their faith in the marketplace. One of the reasons is the unfounded, yet common belief that you’ll offend people if you voice your Christianity.  Let’s explore that belief together.

I’ll Offend People if I Voice My Christianity By Dave Kahle

If there’s one thought that is almost universally nurtured by Christian business people, it is probably this one. It excuses all kinds of behavior, or more accurately, lack of behavior.

The consequences of that thought are immeasurable. Because most of us grasp onto that thought and hold it dear, we fail to act when there is an opportunity.  We don’t offer to pray for someone, we don’t mention something God has done in our lives, we tell no one about God. We tolerate behavior in colleagues, customers and vendors and the world around us that more stout Christians in earlier generations would not have accepted.

And, as a result of that we see our world grow increasingly dark, with “wars and rumors of war” increasing, with more blatant manifestations of evil around us, and with unashamed attacks on the sensibility and self-images of our children and grandchildren.

But perhaps the biggest and saddest consequences of our clutching onto this fear are those people who should have been touched, should have been provided with a living example of how God can touch a life and redeem people, and never were.  And as a result of our reticence, millions of people, over time and geography, who should have gained a glimpse into life with a loving God, never did.

Surely Satan must count this belief as one of his greatest tools.

This belief is wrong at multiple levels.

First, it is untrue. We may offend one or two who are quick to be offended by anything, but the overwhelming majority of people will respond positively, not negatively, to a sincere model of Christian character.  Look at the Dan Orlovsky incident, for example.  In a situation of approaching catastrophe, he spontaneously broke into a prayer on national TV. The comments were overwhelmingly positive.

It sems that athletes are more confident in their relationship with God then most businesspeople.  Darwin Hamlin gave thanks to God for his recovery.  Patrick Mahomes, being interviewed following his team’s winning of the conference championship, first gave credit to God in the post-game interview.  Few, if any, negative comments.  And who can forget Tim Tebow wearing “John 3:16” on his face.

While athlete’s may be the most nationally visible group of unafraid Christians, they aren’t the only ones who have taken a stand for Christ. There is a growing cadre of Christian-led businesses who are growing and leading their industries:  Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby come to mind, but there are thousands of others. These are companies whose leaders have stood for Christian principles and practices and whose businesses continue to grow and thrive.

But there is more. Not only is the belief untrue, but it also directly opposes clear, powerful Biblical teaching. Probably the strongest of these is Jesus words in Matthew:

Matthew 10:32, 33:  32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” 

The Lord did not add, “Unless you are afraid that it will offend someone.”  Acknowledging God in our lives is a command, not an option.

Why then, is this belief so prevalent?

It sprouts out of our love of worldly comforts and a set of nebulous fears. We’re comfortable in our lifestyles, in our relationships with our colleagues and in their image of us. And we’re afraid of losing that comfort.  So, our comfortable lifestyles, fertilized by fear, blossom into unconscious habits.

It’s not that we make a conscious decision every time to hide our Christianity, it is that we have made that decision over and over again, to the point where it becomes unconscious habit.  We’ve made a habit of hiding our Christianity, and we do it without thinking.

How do we break the habit and defeat the fear?

Pray. As with any major change in our habits and behavior, we need to enlist God’s strength and involvement in our efforts. In otherwards, begin with prayer. Pray in general, for your strength and commitment, and pray for specific opportunities and people that you see on the horizon.  One of the easiest steps is to begin to pray for the people in your life – your colleagues, customers and co-workers.  Ask the Lord to prompt you to find a way to mention Christ in your conversations with each.

Commit:  Almost no behavior change happens without a commitment to make that change. We don’t quit smoking until we decide to.  We don’t quit any addiction or change any established habit until  we are ready to commit to the effort.  The same is true of our habit of hiding our Christianity.  We don’t change that behavior until we are ready to commit to the change.

Act.  Sooner or later we have to punch through the covering of fear and do something that was heretofore out of character.  We must do something.  As James said, “Faith without works is dead.”  Until we manifest our faith in our actions, it’s all for naught.

You may want to take baby steps.  Small gestures can build success and confidence and lead to more visible and bigger opportunities.  Here’s a Baby step that everyone can take, almost immediately.  Offer to pray for someone.  When someone shares a challenge or difficulty in their life, ask, “Do you mind if I pray for (or with) you?

That shows your faith, and your compassion for the other person, in a soft, non-threatening way.  Very few people will tell you no. And you will have taken the first step toward defeating a pernicious belief.