There is a word floating around in our culture today that has spawned discussions all over the world. They have forums about this word, special media programs about this word. Kids and adults alike have been affected by this word. Even the First Lady of the United States of America thought enough of this subject to center her new political career around it. It has dominated every aspect of the world accept the Church.
That word is “bully.”
A bully is a person who forces his or her will upon another individual for the purpose of coercion or intimidation. Bullies have been responsible for youth suicide, adults becoming mass murders, children taking up arms in schools, high school massacres, cops shooting innocent victims, and the like. In the minds of many today, there is nothing more abhorrent than a bully.
But what if I told you that there is an appropriate time to be a bully? What if I told you that Jesus was a bully? I know someone reading this is in shock. How can I say that Jesus our beloved Savior was a bully? Easy, He was. Now the obvious question is, ‘Who did Jesus bully?’ Well, Jesus bullied Satan and His demons. And guess what? He expects you to do the same.
I, for one, am tired of Christians standing around waiting for something to happen. I am tired of Churches filled with sick people, mentally ill people, broke people, depressed people, suicidal pastors, demonized leadership, and every other thing. I am tired of hearing Christians whining about not having the victory over their sin. I guess you can say I’m tired! How did we get so far from being the people who turned the world upside down, to be the people least expected to do anything significant?
People don’t call the Church for counsel, for healing, to raise the dead, but they will call the church to bury people. When did we lose our mojo? If this seems harsh, know that it is not meant to be. Instead, it is meant to make you think about how you (we) should move forward. I have heard so many people saying “Jesus only did what He saw the Father do”. I even remember the time we had this faddish idea floating around in American Christian culture, ‘What would Jesus do”. This was written on tee shirts, sweat suits, bracelets, stickers, and anything else it could have been placed on; It was everywhere… everywhere!
At the time, I was not into thinking about deliverance and healing ministry so I thought of this as a question one should ask themselves is they found themselves faced with a moral dilemma. I thought it applied to thinking about what I would do if I were asked to lie for co-workers or to steal from the job. It never crossed my mind to think about what Jesus would do if He got news that someone’s family member was dying. It never crossed my mind that this line of thinking should apply to areas outside of moral thinking. But now I realize that if I am to do what Jesus did, I have to become a bully too.
God is Aggressive
Becoming a bully means becoming aggressive. I know that the word “aggressive” or “aggression” has been tagged as bad. We often use this word in a dirty way to describe criminal behavior. But the word simply means ready or likely to attack or confront. We need to take this word back because God is aggressive and so is Jesus. Yes, Jesus was aggressive and before I encourage us to be aggressive I need to knock down some commonly held beliefs about Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. That is the belief that they are passive and easy-going.
Let’s start with Jesus. He is often depicted in movies with a zoombie-ish-like demeanor. He’s always calm, always gentle and kind, and always passive. Part of the problem is that we define humility this way. We tend to attribute the quality of humility to people who are quiet and kind. But if we really look at Jesus’ whole life, we will soon discover that He was quite aggressive. Not only was He aggressive but He inspired aggressive behavior in His disciples.
For example, Jesus walked into the temple and saw things He did not like and became aggressive. The Bible records that He became so aggressive and passionate about His perspective that He turned over the tables and beat the people out of the temple. Imagine this happening in a contemporary American setting. Imagine going to Church and seeing the pastor becoming so enraged by the sin in the church that He started turning over tables and physically throwing people out of the church. If Jesus had done that today He would be in the news the next day and the world would be gossiping about how crazy He is.
Here is another example. Jesus often got into verbal exchanges with the religious leaders of the day. On one such occasion, He called them hypocrites and white washed tombs (See Matt. 23:27). In case you are wondering… these are insults! Yes, insults! One time He even told them, the biblical experts of the day, that they did not really know the scriptures (Matt. 22:29). In other words, He told them that they did not know what they were talking about. He even called them children of the devil and liars (John 8:44-45).
There was also the time that Jesus responded to the Roman leadership with what most would call an “attitude”. There He was standing trial for doing nothing wrong when He was asked a question He would not answer. Seeing that He was not helping His case the Roman leader said to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have the power to release you or kill you.” Then Jesus responded, “You could have no power against me unless God gave it to you.” Wow! Most of us would have been offended… and so was the Roman leader who pretty much threw up his hands and said, “Whatever, don’t say I didn’t try to help you.” He thought it was an arrogant thing to say and so would most of you had this played out in your church service.
Jesus was aggressive. He was not a mild mannered guy. Part of the mystique about Him was that He was able to be aggressive and bold when required, yet possessed a command of His person that allowed Him to be comforting to those in need of love. He was like a biker in a dress or a gangster who owned a daycare. He was a tough guy and gentle guy all in one. In my opinion, He is the ultimate goal. All of us should aspire to be bold when required and gentle when necessary.
Jesus also teaches us that this aggressive quality is a God quality. The Bible says that He was the express image of God (See Heb. 1:3). That means that He allowed the qualities of the invisible nature of God to reveal themselves through Him. He Himself said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” (See John 14:9). So when Jesus turned over the tables it was an expression of the Father God. When He called the religious leaders whitewashed walls and liars, that was an expression from the Father Himself.
But less we get confused about the nature of God, He also reveals this aggressive nature in the Old Testament. Remember Moses sung a prophetic song in which he said “the Lord in a MAN OF WAR” (Exod. 15:3). Or what about the fact that He sent Moses to pick a fight with Pharoh. Then there was the time He sent the whole nation of Israel to possess the promise land. The catch was that possessing the land God gave them was only possible if they were willing to take it from those who currently occupied it. Folks, God is aggressive!
Being Filled the Holy Spirit and Aggression
Here is something to think about, when God fills us with His Spirit one of the signs is a feeling of aggression. Here are some examples. I Samuel 11:6 records these words, “Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused…” So get the picture, Saul gets news of an attack on his country and the Holy Spirit comes upon him and he gets angry and charges off to war. I bet you didn’t know that God will influence your feelings and emotions to move you to action. If you don’t know it is because we have been trained to ignore our feelings in search of the spirit. But, yes, the Spirit of God will move you emotionally! To learn more about God and emotions get a copy of God, Is that You, Me, or the Devil: How to confidently know God’s voice.
Here are other examples of God filling us in a way that leads to aggressive behavior. In Acts 2 the 120 disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit and immediately spring into action. First, Peter aggressively preaches the gospel. Then in Acts 3 Peter and John come upon a lame man sitting at the gate called Beautiful. When they saw him they did not ask permission to engage his need. They just suddenly and aggressively spoke into his life and yanked him to his feet; They attacked his need. If that is not an example of an act of aggression I’m not sure what is.
Then there is Acts 13 when Paul crosses paths with a sorcerer named Elymas. The Bible says that he was interfering with the message of the Gospel and trying to turn the hearer away. It then says that Paul, “filled with the Spirit” turned to him cursed him with blindness. Again, if this is not an act of aggression I don’t know what is. And I could go on and on with examples of God filling us with aggressiveness.
So what is the point of this section? It’s simple. I want to free you and me from the spirit of timidity that tells us that we have to be nice. I want you to embrace this characteristic of God/ Jesus that we often resist for fear that we are giving way to something improper. We don’t have to be careful and passive, we can be aggressive. I want you to know that when you feel the Spirit of God come upon you that those aggressive feelings are okay to embrace. God is aggressive. That is a part of His nature and that nature is now resident in you. It is okay to be a bully!
Who Did Jesus Bully?
Now, I think it is fair to ask the question, ‘Who are we to bully? The answer to that question is simple. If Jesus bullied demons then we should bully them too. In the paragraphs above I wrote about the aggressive nature of God. But I want to make the distinction between being aggressive and being a bully. Jesus, though aggressive with the people did not bully them. He did not force His will upon them to make them do things that they did not want to do, He was, however, a bit rough from time to time.
Though He did not bully the people of His day, He most certainly bullied the demons. Remember, bullying means to impose or force your will upon another. Jesus was never once seen being polite to demonized people. In fact, He insisted that the demon leave their host and gave them no option to stay. Now, what made it bullying? Well for starters the demon clearly did not want to leave. Second, He intimidated them so that they could not hardly control themselves in His presence. Many passages of scriptures record these words, “And they fell down in fear and said to Him what have we to do with you Jesus of Nazareth. Have you come to torment us before the time?” They were clearly terrified of Jesus and He gave them no options as to whether or not they should obey them. He even told them to “shut up”. The Bible records these words as “He told them to be quiet and did not permit them to speak…” (Luke 4:34,41). But in essence, He was saying “shut up” or “shut your mouth”.
Now some would argue that it was His authority they responded to. That is true, but authority alone is not a guarantee of success. For instance, God called the disciples together in chapter 10 and gave them authority. But a few chapters later that same authority did not work! The disciples had authority and they were still bullied by a demon (Matt. 17). So authority alone does not account for a response. Some what attribute their failure to a lack of faith. This is true but they had faith 7 chapters earlier. Remember this all took place after their rejoicing about how the spirits were subject to them in chapter . So what was the problem? It is found in Jesus statement, “because of your faith”. What He was really telling them was that they got bullied because they were “scared” or “intimidated”. Then He showed them how it was to be done. He bullied the demon into subjection. He didn’t ask it politely. He didn’t question it or entertain a conversation with it. He simply imposed His will and asserted His authority and the demon responded. It clearly did not like being told to go, but it did anyway after almost killing the child on the way out. And to top it all off Jesus said to it, “Get out, and don’t come back.” In the African American culture we would have said, “Wow, Jesus is gansta.” Which simply means that He does what needs to be done regardless of the cost.
Jesus Made Spiritual Bullies
Not only was Jesus a bully but He specialized in making bullies. By the time He ascended to the throne He had trained His students to bully demons, sickness and disease, and even the spirit of death. The book of Acts chronicles the lives of the early church. In it you will read of spirits crying out as they were ejected from people’s lives; sorcerors converting from witchcraft to Christianity; whole towns getting saved; people being healed; the dead being raised. The early church waged war on hell and the effect was that they were said to have “turned the world upside down”. They were known for aggressively moving the kingdom of God forward and we should not be surprised. After all, this is what they were told to do.
When you say, were they told to do so? Let look at Jesus language in Matthew 10:6. He gives power to His disciples then tells them to go into the cities healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils, and cleansing the lepers. Notice that He does not tell them to ask for permission to heal in the city. Notice that He does not tell them that they should do these things if they happen to cross their path. Notice that He does not tell them to wait until the problem comes to them. Notice that He does not tell them that they need to beg God to do anything He commanded them to do. They just needed to obey the word “go”. Go is an action word that indicated that He expected them to be aggressively and actively pursuing ministering to issues in the lives of people. He wanted them to make the first move. He essentially took the dog off the leash and said. ‘go get them!’
I love knowing this about Jesus. It lets me know that He does not expect me to coward down in the face of adversity or in the face of a mentally ill person, or a dying person, or a sick person. I love knowing that when I am face to face with a devil that He has turned me loose to “go get them.” Warfare is something that turns me on; it lights a fire in me. Seeing a person in bondage or captured by the enemy ignites a fight in me that is not satisfied until it has demolished the enemy’s stronghold in the victim’s life. It’s time to bully the bully. It is time for the hunted to become the hunter.
Jesus did not only make His disciples bullies, He made you a bully as well. You do not have to put up with your adversary ruining your marriage, tormenting your children, damaging your finances, dashing your dreams, racking your body with all kinds of illnesses and pains… You do not have to put up with it. Neither do you have to sit back and watch as demons trifle the lives of those you know or don’t know. Jesus was a bully and I’m a bully too!
Welcome to Doing Life On Fire!