Offended for Good Reason | By The Rev. Dan Alger
● Published by Anonymous
I have been encouraged by the number of your e-mails that I’ve had the privilege of receiving. Most have been encouraging and inquisitive, some quite flattering. One even asked if I was single (cool down ladies, I’m already married to the most beautiful woman in the world). There are those few, however, who write in disapproval of what I have to say.
I’m perfectly fine with criticism – in fact, I encourage it because it means people are thinking. The interesting thing that I’ve found with these disapproving emails, however, is that the majority of those who take offense with what I have to say disagree less with my message and more with how I say it. Some even make the claim that I sound angry. So I thought I would talk about tone and why I say what I do in the way that I say it.
Christianity has a bad name in America and the rest of the Western world. Christians like me are seen as shallow, hypocritical, irrelevant, unthinking and useless. I think this criticism is, unfortunately, oftentimes well deserved. Faith and church have become aspects of our culture that are more habit than passion. Many Christians don’t know the basics of their own faith, don’t live out what they say they believe and live life skimming across the surface rather than breathing deeply and plunging the depths of mystery and divinity. Being a Christian has become more about being proper than about knowing and following a living God. And because of this, complacency has crept into the church.
I believe in a God who is alive, a Savior who loved me enough to be brutally murdered in my place, and a church that is supposed to be a place of hope, authenticity and healing. If you want to talk about being offended, I am offended when Christians give my God a bad name through their actions and attitudes. I am offended that the church has turned into a country club rather that a vibrant place of truth and community. I am offended that people think so little of God that they believe giving him an hour on a Sunday every couple of weeks pacifies him. I am offended that so many Christians are shallow and spend more time with their Giga Pets than with the creator of the universe. And I am really offended that I’m not supposed to be offended by all of this.
If you insult my wife I am going to punch you in the jaw (if you think it would be different because I’m a pastor, you don’t know this pastor). Most people would applaud my actions and even look down on me if I did not react with such passion in defense of my bride. Why is it different with my God? I’m angry at the state of the church and with what Christianity has become. The sad part is that this is due largely to the fact that many people who call themselves Christians aren’t really insulted by the things that insult their God. I think that my God deserves better.
So, yes, I’m angry sometimes. No, I’m not always kind. And sometimes, I don’t whistle with bluebirds on my shoulder. I think Christians need to wake up and find their passion. I think we need to fall so deeply in love with our God that it makes a difference in our lives. My tone is at times biting and pointed because I’m passionate about the God that I love and the church I serve, and I hope that I can shake things up in order to bring about change. If that offends you, I’m sure the feeling is mutual. Keep the e-mails coming.
The Rev. Dan Alger is the pastor of The Church of the Apostles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.