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Could You Repeat That Please? - Offense or Not

Sometimes writers distance themselves from religious subjects. Religion is still taboo to speak about. Read about it instead.

Meeting at church on Sunday was different than the normal segment where a discussion about the gospel of Jesus Christ ensued followed by a litany of personal experiences to support living a particular principle of the gospel. It is not that the format changed. A principle taught and anecdotal experiences given did not change. The topic of the discussion was one that is disconcerting in mixed company when that company involves mixed races. What can we do when someone says something offensive to us?

Jeffrey R. Holland said,

Whether we have caused that pain or been the recipient of the pain, those wounds need to be healed so that life can be as rewarding as God intended it to be. 1

For the Black man who is called the n-word or the white man who is called racist, the feelings are not equal in nature, but the hurt of receiving either epitaph can cause offense that lasts a lifetime. Such is the case in the following story mentioned in the Bible.

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The Woman of Canaan

Lauded about the regions and coast of Tyre and Sidon, the celebrity of Jesus could not be contained as He worked daily healing people and challenging the status quo of the Hebrew culture versus its faith in God.

What was done was not hidden in a corner from the world. Desperates of many regions learned about the healing power God put into the hands of Jesus of Nazareth. Foreigners familiar with the prophecies of a messiah who would appear working miracles before the populous saw that Jesus was the manifestation of those writings and believed.

She came to the coast where she had heard that Jesus would be with hope in her heart. A ways off from the camp of Jesus, she could not contain her words before she was close enough to have a cordial conversation with the man.

"Have mercy on me," 2 she raised her voice quickening her pace towards the man. Dust kicked in clouds from beneath her tunic as she sped ahead of her servants with the look of noble beauty about her face and ease apparent from her manicured fingernails, possibly of a great noble house.

"O Lord, thou Son of David;" 2 she identified that she was no common woman but one versed in the knowledge of the prophesies and genealogy of Jesus. "My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." 2

Standing respectfully outside of the Jewish camp of Jesus, she waited for a response to her request, not submitted once but repeatedly to those who stood by, the disciples of Jesus who did not know what to do with her not being a Hebrew herself. A dark complexioned woman with black bushy plaited hair. She was of those people of mixed heritage regardless of her nobility and beauty, unclean according to Hebrew tradition.

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Troubled by the repeated requests of this Canaanite woman, the disciple petition their Master on her behalf full of compassion as her plight. "Send her away;" 2 they say indicating that if Jesus gave her what she wanted she would leave in peace. Had her faith not been demonstrated as all the others by her seeking Him out?

Compassion for this woman pricked the disciples in their souls. "For she crieth after us," 2 they pled with Jesus.

Looking in the direction of the woman who refused to turn away her pleading and into the eyes of each of His disciples, Jesus responded, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 2

Odd that this one time Jesus had a question of whether to bless this woman and answer her faith with healing as He had the others. Is it because she is no Hebrew that He did not answer her those many times she petitioned them to save her daughter? Did not the love of God extend toward all the people created on Earth?

God sent Him to the Hebrew and it was their time to receive the witness of His power. Persistent, the woman heard the confession of Jesus and approached Him knowing God is merciful to all in her experience, knowing this man Jesus by reputation could not possibly turn her away, can He? She believed.

On her knees before Him, flatting herself before Him repeatedly in anguished hope, tears aflow, said she, "Lord, help me." 2

Lord, Help Me!

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Bated breath disciples looked carefully and with wonder as Jesus lowered Himself to the woman tenderly raising her from the ground and to his stooped level. Eyes glistening with compassion, Jesus responded, "It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs." 2

Uh, could you repeat that, please?

"It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs." 2

What the woman could have Said and did in response:

"You racist bastard," she exclaimed pushing his hand away from her standing abruptly to her feet!

"I come to you in full faith to be healed like all of those other people and you single me out calling me a dog because I am not Hebrew? To hell with this."

"I will not ask you to help me even if you decide to do it! At least I know my worth and will deal with my child the way she is because I am just as good as any of you Hebrews."

She dusted her apparel off glaring at Jesus and each disciple. "Yeah, so I'm a dog to you. Go to hell!"

Would many people in modern society blame this woman if she did say what is written above? In today's climate, that is what prevails in society, offense and response in kind. That is not the way of Christianity, which is to forgive those who offend us and pray for them.

In class at church came the words of racially charged names that cause bitterness to divide society into parts. People refuse to forgive due to real or misunderstood offenses and canker their souls.

Christ taught...in our day: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men”1 revealed Jeffrey R. Holland.

He also insisted,

It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to note what He did not say. He did not say,

  • “You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another.”

Nor did He say,

  • “In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.” 1

What He does want for us to do is forgive those who hurt us intentionally or not so that we can benefit from the peace that comes with it. Instead of getting offended when Jesus compared blessing her to giving the food of the children of the kingdom to dogs or casting pearls before swine, the woman responded humbly.

What She did Say in Response

Lifting her eyes up to His to match his gaze, "Truth, Lord," 2 the wet-faced woman agreed. "Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table." 2

Amazed at her faith and understanding of what He was trying to communicate to her, Jesus gave her the desires of her heart and she went away in peace to her daughter who was healed of the evil spirit that possed her.

Supporting Sources

Jeffrey R. Holland - The Ministry of Reconciliation - Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1

Matthew 15: 22-28 2

© 2019 Rodric Anthony Johnson

Comments

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on August 16, 2019:

Dora, I am honored. Thanks for your praise and you follow. I hope I can keep the interest high.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 16, 2019:

I admire your interest in Bible Study. You also have the ability to make it interesting for others. For this reason, I'm following you.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on March 26, 2019:

Thank you, Pamela, for being mindful of my feelings and other people's feelings.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 26, 2019:

Rodric, I have never used the n-word for anyone, and I would not use it toward you. No one should use that word. I hope you know you are saved by Jesus, and you are may be as strong as that Canaanite woman, I wish you the best and a happy fulfilled life.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on March 26, 2019:

Bill, that kind of forgiveness is foreign to me too! As much as I want to claim it, I have to be honest with myself about it in order to obtain it one day.

When I was 16, I worked at a supermarket. I had become a baptized Christian and one of my acquaintances from school did not believe me. To test me, he took that opportunity at work to call me the n-word for 30 minutes straight to test if I would respond.

I had been a scrapper, so he wanted to see if that had changed. Customers walked by hearing him. Some of them asked me if I wanted them to deal with him for doing that. At the moment when I was about to give into his disrespect he stopped and said I must have really changed. I did not change though.

He was not racist. He was just a jerk who happened to be White. He liked to push the buttons of people. I lived in a small town and the placer where we worked had mostly White customers at the time. He was fired later that week because one of the customers complained about his behavior to management.

I still get offended when people call me names. I have learned not to respond, but my heart is trying to catch up with my behavior when it comes to offense. I can act like something does not bother me to keep the peace, but my heart has to sit with it a while to not let hurt sink in and rule it. It does not work all too often.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on March 26, 2019:

Pamela, I think I understand what you wrote. Jesus does not allow race to determine how He loves us. He suffered for all of us equally so that if we change our lives, repent of our sins, we can have equal access to His Spirit and glory with Him for eternity.

I am sure that my description is vague enough for people to identify with in theory. We tend to look at the joy that comes from living the principles of the Gospel of Christ as a distant far off reward in heaven when it can be a living reality now. If only we could all be as humble as the Canaanite woman, it would end all racism in a short NOW!

Calling me an n-word still elicits an ungodly feeling inside my heart, but I am trying to work on that to the point where I can not be offended. I replaced the word that Jesus said to the woman and put the n-word there to see if I could identify with what she felt. It made the situation very real to me. Will my faith be stronger than my offense? Her faith was stronger.

I feel sort of silly typing n-word too. I don't want to give it more power than it has already in my life, but I also know that it offends other people.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on March 26, 2019:

Eric, thank you for your support. I was reading Matthew chapters 14 and 15 for my personal study and those verses about the Canaanite woman jumped out at me. We have so much venom in the Christian community, especially towards outsiders at times that we forget the hallmark of Christianity is forgiveness. One of the best parts about the story is that instead of getting offended the woman looks past what we in today's society would have taken as an offense to see what Jesus was actually saying. I know it does not always work that way with people, but in this case, with Jesus, He was only testing her resolve, her ability to receive the blessing. Her humility won out and I hope to become more like her in my faith, especially when it comes to being offended by what people may or may not say about me.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 26, 2019:

That kind of forgiveness is foreign to me, it's sad to say. I'm working on it, but it's still a ways off in the future.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 26, 2019:

Hi Rodric, I really enjoyed this article about the woman whose great faith in Jesus actually caused Jesus to heal her. I don't think Jesus sees color, but I think he listens to our words of faith. You showed that very well.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 25, 2019:

This is a good piece. I think you have a niche. This one seemed from the heart. We are not all called to a glory of God to preach. Some of us are just plain called to spread the word of love. God loves us through you.

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