"Unoffendable" by Brant Hansen

Brant Hansen has had a varied career, especially as a radio personality. “The Brant Hansen Show” is on more than 200 stations. He and his wife have two children.

His first book, “Unoffendable,” is full of fascinating stories, illustrating people dealing with terrible circumstances and consequent anger. By gaining victory over their anger, great blessings resulted.

We are usually unaware of how much our anger costs us. Being offended is tiresome. Hansen explains, “Letting things go gives you energy …. I can let stuff go, because it’s not all about me. Simply reminding myself to refuse to take offense is a big part of the battle.”

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

Emotional stress ages and devastates us. “Your muscles start to suffer from the tension, so there’s often neck and shoulder pain, for starters. And your immune system starts to fail. You get sick more, and … your symptoms get worse. You get gastroesophageal reflux, or irritable bowel syndrome …ulcers … high blood pressure, blood clots or atherosclerosis. Coronary heart disease can set in, leading to heart attacks. Your metabolism gets messed up. You may gain lots of weight, or even develop diabetes.”

Hansen writes that we need to humbly realize that self-deception often triggers our anger. We misperceive others’ actions and motives and jump to false conclusions, as in traffic and our jobs. “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines” (Proverbs 18:17).

Our propensity to become angry drops when we (1) recall and thankfully rejoice that Christ forgave our sins and (2) obey Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

When we, like Hansen, lighten up in relating to others, we are liberated to freely communicate with and disarmingly befriend radically different people. Hansen writes of an interaction: “I happen to be a pro-life, limited-government Jesus-follower. So you’re an atheist and a socialist who’s pro-choice and thinks Jesus is for losers? Fascinating! Say, how do you like your toast? Tell me more about your thoughts about Jesus and losers.”

Some people think anger motivates positive action, but rather it tends to short circuit it. Our motivation should instead be “love, and obedience born of love.”

Martin Luther King Jr. got angry at being unjustly mistreated but admonished himself, “You must be willing to suffer the anger of the opponent, and yet not return anger …. We want to love our enemies … be good to them. Love them and let them know that you love them.”

Hansen writes, “We hold on to worry … (and) anger because we don’t trust God. We feel threatened because we’re insecure, and we’re insecure because—surprise!—we don’t trust God. When you start practicing it, you realize: choosing to be unoffendable means actually, for real, trusting God.”

“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:26-27, 31).

After His disciples abandoned Him in His time of greatest need, the risen Jesus met them out fishing (John 21). Instead of judging, scolding and rejecting them, He fellowshipped with them and gave them a bountiful catch and breakfast.

During a 2004 relief-effort mission trip to tsunami-devastated Indonesia, Hansen’s team was met by jihadis who threatened to murder them. The team kept ministering to and living with the suffering. Their love motivated a formerly hostile imam to invite them to dinner and mind-bogglingly ask them to take and raise his surviving kids. “The imam and the villagers didn’t have a heart change because of logical argument, or anything except, I think, that they got a glimpse of Jesus,” Hansen writes.

Hansen tells the story of Sokreaksa Himm. He was 14 in 1977 when the Khmer Rouge mass murdered Cambodians, including 13 in his family. He escaped their mass grave, survived his injuries and spent years in refugee camps, seething with revenge. But he found Christ and eventually forgave and hugged his family’s murderers. Jesus offers us empowerment to live above our painful circumstances as unoffendable.

Richard Penn served as a missionary in the Philippines.