Book Review: Brant Hansen’s Unoffendable

We live in an angry world.

There’s outrage everywhere you look.  People are always so mad.  And Christians aren’t much different – but we ought to be.  That is the central premise of Hansen’s book Unoffendable, which posits that rather than getting angry, irritated, or mad about everything going on around us, we should embrace a Christlike attitude that doesn’t embrace, justify, or demand anger.

What I like about this book is that Hansen is clearly interested in providing a Biblical basis for his outlook.  From the beginning of the book on, he takes the reader through countless Bible verses discussing anger in believers (not good!  not desirable! destructive! dangerous! God wants us to deal with it ASAP!) and contrasts with the way that, in some Christian circles, “godly anger” or “justifiable anger” as a way of living is encouraged and embraced.

The problem with “godly anger,” Hansen points out, is that it requires complete self-righteousness and complete purity of motive; something that we, unlike Jesus in the temple, are incapable of.  The result is that a lot the anger we excuse as “godly” is…well, just plain anger, and destructive both to others and ourselves.

The goal, then, is to be “unoffendable” instead.

Hansen makes clear – and I appreciate that he makes clear – that being “unoffendable” doesn’t mean that we refuse to acknowledge problems or that we turn a blind eye to sin or conflict.  Nor does it mean we can’t feel feelings.  Rather, he advocates that we absolutely acknowledge problems and call sin what it is – but that we do so in a calm, gentle, and respectful way.  Pointing out that Christ Himself had a pretty Teflon temperament when it came to being surrounded by sinners, liars, backbiters, and thieves (and tended to reserve His irritation for the overly religious), Hansen wonders why we can’t do the same – and why we embrace immediate outrage and anger instead. “Perhaps a big part of being less offendable,” he writes, “is seeing the human heart for what it is: Untrustworthy.  Unfaithful.  Prone to selfishness.  Got it.  Now we don’t have to be shocked.”

The results of a less-offendable life?  According to Hansen, they’re manifold.  You free up your mental and emotional energy for living life deeply and with gratitude you reduce the stress of being so darn outraged constantly; you make yourself into a beacon for those who, knowing that you disagree with them, nevertheless don’t feel scorned or repelled by you; you become more effective in your ministry and in your service.  Ultimately, love seems to come a lot easier when you’re not busy being angry at everyone and everything.

There are a lot of Christian living books that I read and enjoy – and this is an enjoyable read, by the way, with a conversational and humorous tone.  There are many that have stayed with me and made me approach a topic differently.  But Hansen’s is one of the few that almost immediately thereafter had an influence on my behavior.  I found myself in quite a few circumstances, post-book, where I found myself growing irritable and, yes, outraged – over traffic, over the internet, over a headline, over an unexpected bill – and caught myself.  I asked myself why I was angry.  I asked myself if that anger or outrage was what God expected or desired from me in those situations.  It wasn’t.

I hardly consider myself an angry or “offendable” person.  I’m a pretty soft touch.  But reading this book made me realize the many ways in which I – in which we all – are prone to the sort of outrage, irritation and wrath that can undo so much of what Christ is trying to accomplish with us.  Even if you don’t live out your “unoffendability” in the way that Hansen does, or even if you’re not quite the mellow free spirit he seems to be, you will absolutely take something away from this book that makes a difference in your attitude and your behavior.

 

 

 

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