Let me apologize ahead of time.
But I probably missed something. I mean, when did people’s “feelings” become so sacred? You know, this hyper-sensitivity to how Christians are perceived, whether or not we are making someone feel condemned or accepted or excluded or depressed or affirmed or… whatever.
- Intentionally hurting people’s feelings? Wrong.
- Being unconcerned with people’s feelings? Wrong.
- Being flippant, thoughtless, reckless regarding people’s feelings? Wrong.
- Unintentionally hurting people’s feelings? It happens.
And of course, trying not to look like complete asses is always a good thing. After all, they will know we are Christians by our love, not our Chik-Fil-A receipts. But what about when truth is lovingly spoken and it still hurts people’s feelings?
Apparently, the tactical recourse is to claim… anything that hurts someone’s feelings could not have been lovingly spoken.
Which kinda-sorta hamstrings truth-speaking. And places someone’s feelings above what they might actually need to hear. Or what we might need to speak.
But if feelings are so sacred, I’m not sure Jesus got the message. Yes, He is meek and lowly of heart (Matt. 11:29). He is a friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19). He knows us intimately and loves us deeply. I am incredibly thankful for these things! But He also came to bring a sword and divide households (Matt. 10:34). He came to call sinners to repentance (Lk. 5:32). And He will return to judge the world. These things have a tendency to grate.
Not hurting people’s feelings did not seem high on Jesus’ list of priorities.
- Did Jesus care about the rich young ruler’s feelings when he told him to sell everything and give it to the poor?
- Did Jesus care about the adulteress’s feelings when he told her to go and sin no more?
- Did Jesus care about the Pharisee’s feelings when He called them a brood of vipers?
- Did Jesus care about Nicodemus’ feelings when He told him he must be born again?
- Did Jesus care about the multitudes’ feelings when He commanded them to eat His flesh and drink His blood, and drove them away?
- Did Jesus care about the invalid’s feelings when he told him to stop sinning lest something worse come upon him?
- Did Jesus care about the moneychangers’ feelings when He drove them out of the temple?
- Did Jesus care about Peter’s feelings when He called him “Satan” and told him to split?
- Did Jesus care about the feelings of potential disciples when He told them they couldn’t be followers unless they denied themselves and took up their crosses?
He was Jesus, so of course He cared about their feelings! He loved each one of them — including those blasted Pharisees. Their pain. Their brokenness. Their existential wanderings. Their rigid intolerance. Their genetic predispositions. Their squandered talents. How could He not care about them and their feelings? It just didn’t stop Him from speaking the truth.
Jesus loves you so much that He will risk hurting your feelings.
No, He won’t be mean, rude, pushy, or condemning. But He will tell you the truth. And whenever you tell the truth, you run the risk of hurting someone’s feelings. And being accused of being “mean, rude, pushy, or condemning.”
Sometimes hurt feelings are evidence of wrongly speaking. Sometimes hurt feelings are evidence of rightly speaking.
But hurt feelings are never always the indication of either.