Sunday, February 5, 2012

Afraid of Offending

“Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Matthew 15:12

I often visit in Muslim homes where sweet tea and rich pastries are served. This becomes a dilemma for me as I try to eliminate sugar(added) from my diet. The same goes for excessively salty food and a lot of oil used for cooking. I don’t feel obligated to eat big servings or multiple servings if the food is very sweet, salty or greasy. We can learn the skill of showing appreciation to our host while also being responsible for our bodies being the temple of God.

The apartment felt like a furnace with the heat turned up so high. For years I refrained from saying how I felt for fear of offending the host. Now I simply say “It is hot in here. May I open the window?” Recently an apartment was so hot, and the smell of onions, pungent spices and hot searing oil overpowered me. My eyes smarted and began to run. I asked if I could open the window. The window was frozen shut so they put on the air conditioner. The same could be said about incense overtaking me.

I can sit for awhile on the floor but not for hours. Before I endured it to “identify” with my Muslim friends. Now I sit for some time on the floor and then gradually move on to a chair. It doesn’t offend the host.

My eyes are sensitive to bright sunshine or glare if I’m facing it while talking to my friend. I now just get up and say, “my eyes can’t take the brightness” and find another spot to sit. Sometimes I will ask if I may partially close the curtains. I don’t find they are offended.

It is common to visit with the TV volume quite high making conversation challenging. For years I endured competing with the noise. I didn’t want to offend my friend by saying anything. Now I ask if she would turn it off while we talk because I can’t hear her very well. If a child is watching TV I ask if the volume can be turned down. It may for one minute and then go back up. I ask a few times.

When we are in cross cultural ministry and some things are difficult to cope with God can help us to deal with them in a relaxed respectful manner. It is wonderful to finally be free from the fear of offending my Muslim friends. We can get overly concerned about that. We worry too much that we will ruin a chance to witness. The important thing is to love them.  If we can not speak up about these rather minor earthly things for fear of offending them, how will we be able to share about spiritual truths which can truly offend them?

Dear heavenly Father, help me not to get so stressed out being afraid of offending my Muslim friend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.