“So what if—just dreaming out loud here—Christians were known as the people you can’t offend?” ~ Brant Hansen, Unoffendable, pg. 20.
The morning after I started reading Brant Hansen’s new book, Unoffendable, I was confronted by how easily I get offended. Angry, even. The pettiest inconveniences lead to tension. Teeth grit, eyeballs shoot laser beams, hands clench—when anger and offense are entertained, my whole body gets involved.
What set me off? The printer at the gas pump was out of paper. Filling the van with 30 gallons of gas is stressful in itself. I watch the dollar amount tick up from “Lunch at Taco Bell” level to “Box of diapers” to “Week’s Worth of Groceries” to “I Guess Tommy Can’t Get Braces.” When it finally stops after about 27 minutes, I screw the gas cap on, replace the nozzle, and hit YES for a receipt. I like to tear it off. It’s lamely satisfying. Also, I like to have receipts for three reasons:
1. What if I get reported for skipping out on the station? This is extremely unlikely, as everyone must pay in advance or the pump won’t work. It’s good to have proof when the imaginary squad of police surround you because there was a report of a large red van squealing out of the Shell station. A middle-aged woman was heard screaming “Heeee hawwwwww!” like Bo Duke. Was that you, ma’am? But my proof only lasts for about five seconds because…
2. I always end up using the receipt to contain gum or…
3. Blot my lipstick. Or both.
That morning, I was denied the chance to prove my innocence, I had no place to put my gum, and the chances of dreaded lipstick bleed were significantly elevated. How would people know I am a lady? My face grew hot. I muttered curses and climbed back into the van angry. No paper!? No receipt? How stupid were the gas station attendants? I bet they didn’t even care! My anger over a dumb inconvenience was slipping into dangerous territory.
But then I stopped. Remembered. Caught myself. Hansen’s Unoffendable unfolded. The night before, I found his words incredibly challenging and incredibly convicting. He asserts that taking offense is not only foolish and tiring, but it’s wrong.
Anger, in the hands and hearts of humans, is wrong. Every time. We are guaranteed to get angry. But we need to shove it off and away, pronto. It’s not for us to revel in, ever. Boy, do we love ourselves some righteous anger. I do. It feels good to get fired up.
Before I read Unoffendable, I read what it was about. I was a bit gobsmacked. Hansen’s assertion that offense is wrong offended me. I could think of dozens of situations where righteous anger was surely justified: Genocide, famine, drought, evil regimes, crimes against children, spousal abuse, torture, exploitation, human trafficking, slavery, innocent people imprisoned…the list is long.
I could buy that my anger over not getting a receipt was ridiculous and wrong, but nobody could ever convince me it’s wrong to get mad about teenagers forced into prostitution or the Holocaust.
However, he solidly builds a case, based on scripture, that anger separates Christians from being able to actually, you know, do anything about these horrible things. Some contend anger inspires action, but does it? What has greater power to get things done—with lasting, life-changing results? Anger or Love?
Jesus encountered one moral mess after another, and He was never taken aback by anyone’s morality. Ever. I can’t find any stories (maybe you can find one?) where Jesus sees an immoral person and says something like, “Wow! Okay. Well, that really is disgusting. That’s just too much.” ~ Unoffendable, pg. 33
Hansen’s contentions are radical in our age of perpetual offense. I encourage anyone intrigued by his outlook to read Unoffendable. He has a personable, breezy style that incorporates humor, quotes from other thinkers, and gripping, difficult stories. Most importantly, he backs it up with scripture and examples from the ultimate example of love. Jesus. If you know Brant from his gigs as a legendary Christian radio DJ and podcaster, you can hear his voice as you read. His wit, insight, and wisdom translate very well to the pages of a book. Chapter titles include “Bert and Ernie and Satan”, “The World’s Worst Bedtime Story”, and “Here’s the Part Where I Talk About Some Danish People.” Hansen reels readers in with humor and then hits hard with good, meaty insight. Personally, it’s my favorite way to learn. Laughing, then a big gulp as I recognize something large in me that needs to change. Wow.
He appreciates the reader’s skepticism and anticipates every argument. Hansen meets every objection with grace and truth. It got a little spooky. I felt like I was having a conversation as I read.
Unoffendable comes out on April 14, 2015. It’s available in the usual places, like Amazon and your local bookstore. I highly recommend picking up a copy. I am so glad I read it. I think about his words daily. It’s been a long time since a book about faith made me delve deeper into my own motivations and the truth about who I am in Christ. Redeemed. But can I be un-offendable? I’m trying.
(I was given an advanced copy of Unoffendable for purposes of review. The opinions are solely mine. I am not affiliated with Amazon, either.)