Last time, I ended with a couple of questions to ponder relating to offense and provocation and then presented a passage of Scripture for our mutual consideration. The second question asked, “Is it better to be provoked to do almost anything than to be offended by almost everything?” What do you think?
I think it’s an unfair question, because it assumes an overly simplistic answer.
What if you are provoked to action by a righteous offense but then your reaction is sinful too? While it is completely justified to be offended by pornography, it would not be justified to murder a pornographer. Similarly, the radical and violent fringes that bomb abortion clinics or open fire at youth camps are not justified in their actions. They are a party to and participant with evil. Does it matter what our provocation drives us toward? Does the heart with which we offer our response matter?
The idea of provocation we’re talking about is a specifically Christian version of provocation. It is more than just action; it is restorative action.
Let’s take another look at the passage we closed with last time:
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:16-17 nkjv).
What would have happened if instead of Paul’s spirit being provoked, he had simply been offended by all the idols he saw in Athens? What would have happened if Paul had been filled with offense and scorn toward the idolatrous and pagan Greeks?
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