We wrapped up our Bully Beatdown series last week, but I didn’t have a chance to get online and post my notes by Monday. So, I decided to wait a week. I knew I wouldn’t teach YG last night, because the Super Bowl was teaching us how far $3M can go: as far as it can get in 30-seconds. P.s. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the commercials this year, but the half time show was the best since the incident. It’s amazing what having a relevant, younger than 45 band can do for a half time show. Anywho, we finished with spiritual bullying. Here’s what happened:
We’re not talking about Christians bullying non-Christians. That certainly does happen, but we’ve talked about that a number of times.
I’m talking about the way Christians look down at each other for having different beliefs and practices than each other.
It’s really a matter of arrogance. When someone does something differently than you, and you get bent out of shape over it, you could end up bullying that person.
How did Jesus feel about the Pharisees? How did He describe them?
They made the rules to follow too difficult to anyone. They were so overwhelming that they were defeating. The Law was hard enough to follow without any extras.
To make a proselyte of someone is to convert them. They wanted to get people “saved,” but once they got reached them, they taught them to be just as hellish as they were.
They took their rules and their interpretations of God’s rules and put them on par with God’s actual laws.
It’s okay to have your own standards, but it becomes problematic and bullying when you project your personal standards for enforcing God’s rules on everyone else.
I was pretty happy with this section, because I got to alliterate, which was always my favorite part about being Baptist. We alliterate everything.
A precept is a law. It is in black and white (or maybe red). It comes right from the Bible. They are clear cut. The 10 Commandments are examples of precepts.
A principle is a good general rule that one can draw from a precept. They are similar, but not exactly the same. By studying the Bible, we can develop principles that help us understand right and wrong with situations that aren’t specifically laid out in the Bible.
A preference is how you decide to react to the precepts and principles laid out in the Bible. It’s how you enforce these rules in your life, or how you set boundaries to make sure you do not stray from God’s laws.
Spiritual bullying is when you take your preference and elevate it to the same place as God’s law. Let’s look at some that make for arguments and divisions in churches.
What is the precept? Do not get drunk.
What principle can we draw from this? Alcohol can be dangerous, because getting drunk is a sin.
What are a couple of preferences we can follow? Well, a person can choose to not drink any alcohol ever, because without taking a first drink, he can never get drunk. Or, someone can say, “I’m going to be very careful with alcohol and make sure I never drink too much.”
Now, for you for right now, it is absolutely a sin to drink any alcohol, because we are directed to submit to authorities and rulers. The law says that you cannot, so you cannot. You cannot go home and tell your parents that I said it’s okay, and they are spiritually bullies if they say it’s not. It’s not okay for you.
Spiritual bullying comes into play when the person who decides he will not touch alcohol at all judges the person who decides he will drink moderately and not get drunk, or when the person who will drink moderately to look down on the “teetotaler” for “making Christians look prudish or judgmental.”
What is the precept? There actually isn’t one here. There is no commandment, although you would think so based on how some people define worship.
What principle can we draw from this? It is acceptable to worship God with movement, like dancing, or lifting your hands, or flag waving, or whatever.
What could your preference be? Well, you could decide that when you worship, you will raise your hands and you will move. You might clap your hands, move your feet, whatever. That’s all cool.
It’s not a precept though. You are not commanded to do that. I’ve been asked why I don’t worship God when we’re singing before. And for the two people who had the guts and lack of tact for asking me that question, I know there are others who just think it about me. But why is it that some people think I don’t worship? Because I don’t move around. Side note: if you’re actually worshiping God, you probably wouldn’t notice how I was interacting with Him. I lean towards being completely still with my head down. If I could do it without drawing attention to myself, I’d be most likely to worship face down (prostrate), but I only do that in private.
Is it okay for me to think that people that dance or move while worshiping are faking it and not truly engaged in worship? Nope. It’s also not okay for those that dance and move to think that I am not worshiping God, because I am not doing it like them. We can’t project our preferences on each other.
There are many situations where people do this. Sometimes it’s related to our spiritual gifts. For instance, there are some that would teach that if you don’t speak in tongues, you have never been saved, or maybe you have, but you haven’t received the full Holy Spirit.
I don’t want to go too deep into what I believe about tongues right now, but I will tell you that I have never spoken in tongues. If it is an active spiritual gift, I do not have it. For someone to say that your not speaking in tongues means you are a lesser Christian or that you don’t have the Holy Spirit or whatever is kind of ridiculous. That would be like me saying that no one here is right with God, has His full spirit upon them, and possibly might not even be saved, because they don’t preach. That’s my strongest spiritual gift.
Read Romans 14:1-8
We’ve been given liberty to follow God as He has created us, but we cannot let our liberty become a stumbling block to other people.
Some things aren’t laid out in black and white, but God will lead you through His spirit. When it comes to these gray areas, where we’re not quite sure what God wants, it’s not okay for us to project our preferences onto other people.
It is interesting that many of the things upon which God is silent, Christians have traditionally been the loudest.
We shouldn’t be that way. We shouldn’t bully people. Remember Matthew 25:40…