We talk a lot about bullying these days it seems. A kid recently in my area 11 years old hung himself due to bullying, we see it on the news, on the internet, in the papers, and in our schools. The issue is a hot topic and for good reason. No one should bully or be bullied. However, what about the church?
There are spiritual bullies in our churches that we seem to put up with, accept, or ignore? What is a spiritual bully? Well I take a spiritual bully as someone who pushes their agenda, beliefs, opinions, or judgements on other people. A spiritual Bully only likes and agrees with people who agree with them and support them, and condemn, put down, or arrogantly treat those who disagree with their belief system as less than christian, a hypocrite, bad chrisitian, or even a heathen. They are legalistic and have a narrow-mind and can only see their view point, here their own voice, and tear down others who do not agree or line up with their "side".
I'm not making this stuff up. You ever wonder why a church only has 10-15 people in it? It's because the bully pastor or bully member(who runs the church) that's all the people that agree with them. I know some churches are small and dying because they refuse to change, but many are dying because of the selfishness and arrogance of the person who only hears or sees their own voice and not God and pushes it on others. Yet they do what they do in the name of God. Well so did Saul(before he was Paul) when he persecuted chrisitans and had them put in jail, so did the Pharisees and religious leaders in the NT. Doing something in name of God doesn't always make you right.
Bullies in our churches and pulpits are nothing more than modern day Pharisees who are using religion and God for their own selfish agendas or misguided ignorance. You don't go to the same kind of church I do, then you are less than me. You don't use the same version of the bible that I do, than I am right and you stupid. You don't worship with the same kind of worship music I do, then you are not as good of a chrisitan as me. We push agenda's and relgious doctrines and spiritual opinions on people. When they have nothing to do with the Great commision of making disciples or the Greatest command of loving God and loving your neighbor(others).
Do you think a lost/unsaved person cares about what version of the bible you use, or whether you sing "old hymns of the faith" or contemporary praise music? You think a lost soul cares about your views on the end of times, or speaking in tongues, or eternal security, or if you're baptist or church of christ, or methodist?
I am not belittling any one subject, but spiritual bullies focus on the minors and miss the majors. They push opinions and miss grace. They throw out their harsh words, agruments, and pride yet miss loving people, accepting people where they are, and showing them the love of Christ. People need to know you love them and God loves them, before you can teach them doctrine or basic bible truths.
It's a process.
We all have a right to our preferences, choices, and things when it comes to matters of opinions and just because you bully someone with your opinion as if it's gospel or doctrine, doesn't make it so. Bully are insecure people, they are scared or afraid, so that is why they bully, or it has everytyhing to do with the way they were raised and taught.
People who grew up in churches where the preacher screamed and yelled, think that is the way preachers are suppopsed to preach and if they start preaching they do it because that think that is only way to preach. People who grew up in country very traditional chuches think that is the only way you can worship and anything new or modern in church is blaspheme or wrong. That is where I begin to wonder are people truly following God or are they following tradition? A mentor? Their Family?
God isn't a bully and He doesn't want His church to bully people. If anyone has a right to force people to beleive something or do something it's God, and He gives us free will to choose Him, but also some freedom in the way we do things, and we need to stop making every little thing wrong, a sin, or a test of fellowship with others. Stop being a bully and a modern day pharisee and start preaching, teaching, and sharing in love, and stop worrying about everything being a sin or sending you to hell. Read God's word and pray with an open mind and heart.
My advice don't put up with spiritual bullies, if you have them in your church, deal with them, or move on. If their heart as hard as their head, it may be a losing battle especially if they are in leadership and church isn't willing to deal with it. But for everyone else, Love God, Love other.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.