“May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me,
O Lord, the Lord Almighty;
may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me,
O God of Israel.”
- Psalm 69:6
I’m struck in this verse by the thought of how easy is it offend. We don’t mean to, but sometimes we do. A joke here or there at the expense of someone else. A comment, perhaps taken out of context, that causes others to be offended. A deed, unbecoming of a follower of Jesus Christ, witnessed by someone we didn’t know was there.
It speaks to how careful we need to be as we live our faith. We need to realize the statement we’ve all heard: we are the only Bible some people will ever read. How will they read us? Will they find a life consistent with the faith we proclaim? Or will they find hypocrisy?
As I reflect on ways that we might reach more youth in our church, I have been speaking to a number of families, and found some very distressing news. Many of the people I have talked to told me that they used to attend this church. In most cases someone did something or said something, and they realized the faith of the leaders at that time might not have been as genuine as they thought, and they stopped coming. Some joined other churches, others fell away altogether. And though in many cases it’s been twenty years, they have no desire to return.
It’s so easy to offend. We must be on our guard, as the Apostle Paul wrote, to avoid even the appearance of evil. Because someone seeing or hearing something out of context may even walk away from the faith.
Perhaps our prayer should be that of the Psalmist: “May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me…”