Jesus tells us to be offended in nothing. My grandmother used to call this “water off a duck’s back” or having a “thick skin”. But today we live in an age when being offended is a full-time job and considered a social virtue. Rather than to let the offence slide off us like water, we’re encouraged to trumpet it across every form of media and to never let it go.
We born-agains, however, are not to do that. Jesus tells us we’re to be offended in nothing and to love those who try to offend us. We do this by forgiving them, blessing them, and praying for them.
Again – we’re to be offended in nothing.
In a wolf pack, the alphas are the lead male and female, and the omegas are the lowly scapegoats. The alphas get to lord over the pack, eat first, make the decisions, and breed. The omegas, on the other hand, get sneered at by the rest of the pack, are bullied and beaten, are last in line for food, and never get to breed. That’s the agreement, anyway, within the pack. All the wolves have their established roles to play: the alphas are first, and the omegas are last.
In scripture, we read that God is “Alpha and Omega, first and last”. For years I assumed it meant that God was at the beginning of time and will be at the end of time, and endures forever. I saw “Alpha” and “Omega” as a chronological thing. But when I read about the wolf pack pecking order, I remembered what Jesus told us in the gospels – that “the last will be first, and the first will be last” – and I saw the scriptural concept of Alpha and Omega in a whole new light.
So I did a little more digging into the traits of omega wolves, and what I found was jaw-dropping. While most of the omegas are submissive by character (that is, they’re born that way), every now and then an omega comes along that has a whole different agenda. This omega is the “dark horse”, the wild card, the one that’s temporarily agreed to the lowly position because the role he was born to play (alpha) is currently occupied. These omegas are submissive only to avoid conflict and to halt the chain of aggression. Over time, some of them will leave to start another pack as the alpha, some will leave to become the fabled lone wolf, and some will eventually rise to challenge their own alphas and take over the pack.
Far from being a weakling or a pushover, the “wild card” omegas are the quintessential free spirits. They don’t fit into the wolf hierarchy and so choose to remain on the fringes, biding their time. They permit the other wolves to abuse them not because they’re weak, but because the abuse is inconsequential to them. They’re offended in nothing. They have a thick skin and another agenda.
When he came out as the Messiah at the start of his ministry, Jesus adopted the role of omega. There was no room for an alpha Messiah in the deeply entrenched hierarchy of Judaism, any more than there was room for Jesus in Bethlehem at his birth. And so he was pushed to the edges of established religion and hounded and mocked by the temple alphas, all the while playing the role of a lowly itinerant preacher, the son of a lowly carpenter, all the while biding his time, knowing who he was in God’s eyes, and one by one gathering a new pack around him.
God is the Creator and Lord over all, and yet he permits people to curse him, to disobey his commands, to act as if he doesn’t exist, and to destroy his creation. He permits all this not because he’s weak, but because he’s patient. He’s biding his time. God could easily stop all human acts of cruelty and stupidity, but then he wouldn’t be honoring his promise of free will to us. And so the Eternal Alpha Of All Alphas plays the lowly role of Omega, just as Jesus the Messiah played the lowly role of omega, and just as we, as Jesus’ followers, play the lowly role of omegas in the world, turning the other cheek not because we’re weak, but because we’re offended in nothing.
It takes more strength to endure abuse and not to return it than to be an abuser. It takes more strength to be patient than to lash out. We born-agains are spiritual alphas who appear to the world as lowly omegas because we’re offended in nothing, and we love our enemies, and we submit to offences. If our Lord and Creator can play the role of Omega when it serves his good purpose, and if Jesus could play the role of omega to further the Kingdom, then we should have no problem playing omegas for our short time on Earth.
We know who we are in God’s eyes. We know who we are in God’s Kingdom. What the world thinks of us is just water off a duck’s back.