What Good Does It Do When Christians Are Offended? (Dale Best)

The talk in some circles of American Christianity this week is what NBC did, or rather didn’t do, this past Sunday afternoon during their US Open broadcast. Because the golf tournament was held in Washington, DC, the network put together a short montage of patriotic clips with an audio byte that included a reading of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Only one thing: they forgot to include three little words … under God, indivisible. Two of which are words that throw all most some Christians into a tizzy if someone messes with them.

NBC has since apologized.

I’m one of those Jesus followers who happened to not be offended. Because I don’t think it does any good.

You see, I’ve never met someone who was offended by something and they haven’t told at least one person about it. When we’re offended, the emotion that’s displayed is very outward and vocal. And in this age of social media, it’s easy for our anger over a  mistake or mishap to spread quickly. (In fact, FB and Twitter talk had spread so quickly, one of the commentators apologized before the end of Sunday’s broadcast.)

When we’re offended by things, it’s obvious that we take our time and influence and energy and devote those things to tell others about how horribly we’ve been wronged. The flipside is bottling that offense inside and letting it stew and simmer into resentment. And let’s be honest … how healthy is bitterness to someone’s emotional and spiritual well-being?

But how much good does it do? If we call ourselves Christians and we identify ourselves with the One who came and forsook his own rights and his own life and gave himself for others, should instances like removing “Under God” from a pledge really matter?

Jesus spent his time and influence and energy building a Kingdom that transcended anything this world had to offer. The world, essentially, has it’s own way of doing things and it never surprised him that things weren’t right. He came to reconcile those things that weren’t right … through serving and giving his life and ultimately defeating death.

Jesus didn’t come to tell everyone what he was against. He had one mission and that was to usher in His Kingdom to a world that was broken. He showed us love in a way that seemed so counter-cultural. He didn’t waste his time worrying about whether or not his Abba’s rules were posted in the town square. He taught that to be first, you have to be last. And to not expect the world to make it easy for you along the way.

I wonder. I wonder about influence. And I wonder about energy. And time, too. We’re only given a certain amount of each and I wonder about how we use all three.

What would’ve happened if we, instead of being vocally offended about what a dumb TV network did or didn’t do, devoted our time, influence, and energy to help build clean water wells in Africa? Or help pull young girls out of the sex trade in southeast Asia?

And what if we dedicated our Facebook statuses to telling the story of Gerry McIlroy, the father of US Open champion Rory McIlroy? Gerry sacrificed a lot as Rory grew up, often working 3 jobs at a time, so his family could afford Rory’s passion for learning how to golf well.

I don’t know if Gerry’s life is led by the Holy Spirit but the others-first attitude is a Kingdom quality that should be esteemed by Christ followers. What if Christians were so vocal and supportive of Gerry as a Dad and shared his story? Do you think it would change the way the McIlroy family thinks of Christians? (Again, I don’t know what faith background Gerry McIlroy has … I’m just talking hypotheticals.)

My point is, I think we do a disservice to the Kingdom when we get offended over the things we can’t control. I understand why ‘Under God’ is so important to so many in America. But you want to know who’s really ‘under God?’ I am. You are. Because we’re made in His likeness.

The way we spend our actions, our emotions, our time, influence, energy, and resources matter. In our joy and selflessness, His kingdom comes. Or we hinder His kingdom coming in our anger and outrage.


Dale Best is a media junkie and works in the Radio industry.  He is passionate about wrestling with how better to follow the way of Jesus in a postmodern world.  You can catch up with him on Facebook or Twitter.  He also attends the same small group as Kurt 🙂

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  • Ian

    Ya I always saw the issue to be pretty trivial to the christian faith. I don’t want to judge the people who are outraged (because I’m sure many are not like this), but at least a significant amount of them are the Glen Beck loving, Obama hating Christians who are so worried about moralism that they leave the Gospel on the wayside and are more worried about America being maintained as a world superpower than the unity of the Church. Maybe their just worried that society is rejecting God, but somehow keeping “under God” in our pledge and “In God We Trust” on our money is supposed to show them the Gospel. It’s just beyond reason.  rant/ 

  • Well, the whole reason this was an issue for many American christians was that it was a direct challenge to their belief that America is going to heaven when it dies. That’s why Christian americans weren’t as offended. There was a time I would have joined them in their rage. Now? I say we should just be honest. I mean, why make everybody in America lie every time they say the pledge? Because it’s not like that many people in America actually LIVE like they’re under God. Shoot, even us Christians struggle to do that most of the time.

  • Gerry and Rory McIlroy are Roman Catholics, although clearly opposed to sectarianism, according to this article.

    •  Thanks for the clarification, Peter…

  • Raleigh Clough

    Thanks for  bringing this up.  I’ve often wondered why those who get so steamed up about their particular “moral” issue of the day (10 commandments, prayer in school, abortion, gay marriage) can be so neglectful of the weightier matters of the law – love, justice, freedom?  I love the idea that we’re all “under God” because we are created in His image.  I agree that the best way to respond to the predictable affronts to God’s kingdom from the world is to spend our lives living out His Kingdom principles of love, truth and freedom for all!

  • Mjames

    Isn’t the offense related to the perceived (and believed) narrative that there is this unbroken line(age) from the early Puritan settlers’ vision of this land becoming a new Zion? In this sense, the Christians most offended are those who see the future of the USA as this past ideal come to fruition and anyone who denies this future moment is surely doing the devil’s work. In the words of Svetlana Boym, this kind of nostalgic thinking is related to a nationalistic agenda  that “manifests itself in total reconstructions of monuments of the past[…however…] home (or nation) is not made of individual memories but of collective projections and ‘rational delusions’…[that are based upon] a psychic substitution of actual experiences with a dark conspiratorial vision”

    In this sense, those who are “offended” are not offended in the manner that we understand offense–this is not about someone stepping on your ideological toe, no, for them, this denying of their future moment, their return ‘home’, is not an isolated incident, but the work of a far larger and more devious strategy that works to sully (as it forgets) this ideal. In this respect, proclaiming one’s anger at the omission is a way to steady the flag of resistance, to keep the faith.

    • That’s a good point, Mjames. I have just posted a quote from the above with my own comments, which link this offence to Calvin’s project to impose godliness on Geneva by rule of law. The Puritan settlers wanted to model America as a theocracy like Geneva, and their descendants today cannot accept that that project has failed. But it never was the true Christian approach anyway, as I explain in my post Calvin, Preacher of Legalism.

  • Great Word.

  • There is a kind of offense and stumbling block that Christians SHOULD care about, and it’s not whether Americans confess to be under a God they really don’t follow:


  • Aside from the fact that being offended doesn’t accomplish anything constructive in this case, I think it’s a dangerous illusion that public statements about God (or their absence) are a true indicator of our actual relationship with God or a means of bringing those who are opposed to religious displays in the public arena under the authority of God.
    Objectively, I believe that we are all “under God” no matter what is said, confessed, believed, legislated, or not; and in relational terms the only person I can bring into joyful and willing submission under God is myself (and even that requires some major prompting and enabling by the Holy Spirit).

  • Jonathan Aigner

    I completely agree that Jesus came to usher in his Kingdom.  Too bad we don’t catch that vision.

    It reminds me of the FBC Dallas website from last Christmas called “GrinchAlert.com.”  This was the website “concerned Christians” could post names of local businesses and establishments that chose to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”  According to the pastor, it was supposed to be in a light spirit of fun. 

    I wonder if that helped usher in the Kingdom of God.

    My guess is “no.”

    I wish evangelicals would learn to look past themselves so that the important things could come into sharper focus.


  • arty arthur

    I wonder if the inhabitants of Jerico would have felt offended?  Even children put to death, let alone the probability of pregnant women also beings victims of this God goaded massacre.  In wonder if the gay community feel offended, when threatened with violence and death, a sentiment supported by followers of Jesus. 

    Should I go on?

  • Mike

    Interesting Post considering your vehement blabbering against Mark Driscoll just a few days later. So what I’m hearing you say is that you can get offended, but only if the offense fits your agenda?

    • Mike

      Never mind… different blogger