Last week I said that Christians who got offended by other Christians were idolaters. Now to explain.
“Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord…” I Samuel 15:23
“Stubbornness is as idolatry.” Basically, if I am holding onto something like offense, and not dealing with it scripturally (being stubborn), I have placed that offense between me and Jesus – it has become an idol – something I protect, give allegiance and attention to, and refuse to get rid of though I know the Word says I should. That’s why the Word calls stubbornness idolatry.
When Barb and I were dating during our high school years, we went to a Saturday night prayer meeting that started at 7pm/19:00 held in a farm house out in the country, about a 25 minute drive from Barb’s house. Our routine was that I’d drive to her house by 6:15, we’d leave within 10 minutes, and arrive at the prayer meeting at 10 or 5 minutes to 7. I said routine – but it never seemed to go according to my schedule
She would be late which upset me, or I’d be angry at something else but was still stirred up by the time I got to her house. Or maybe she and her mom had argued and I got the brunt of that frustration. Either way, we would be angry with each other as we drove to the meeting.
He Loved His Camaro
We also went to another meeting on Sunday nights. That meeting rotated between homes and consisted of teenagers from various school districts, usually led by everyone’s mutual friend, Dave. An experience Dave shared one Sunday night resonated with me.
Dave owned a Chevy Camaro, which was a very nice car for a teenage boy to own in 1975. In our day, not every teen had his own car, so if you had one you were a star attraction. Dave really, really, liked his car. Think Danny Zucko in Grease. Think Richie and Potsie and Ralph Malph from TV’s Happy Days.
He was sitting at a stop light one day and the Lord spoke to him: “You are committing idolatry.” Without thinking he replied; “I am not Lord! I don’t have any idols, I don’t have any shrines in my house like the Catholics!” The Lord said: “You’ve put this car between Me and you, therefore you are committing idolatry. It is an idol to you. You love it more than you love Me.”
Dave’s lesson that night was from the scripture I shared in the opening – that stubbornness is idolatry. He was stubborn about his love for the car. God could deal with him in any area and immediately he would change the priorities of heart to adjust to what the Lord wanted – except for that car. He was resisting the Lord’s efforts to keep that car in perspective. He had to do some ‘heart surgery’ that day and remove the car from the pedestal that was blocking his view of the Lord.
I’m Right; No, I’m Right
So Barb and I were sitting out in the barn lot before one of the Saturday night prayer meetings, arguing as each of us tried to prove our point, trying to get the other to back down, apologize, or agree. Suddenly Dave’s experience came welling up inside me: “You (two) are committing idolatry by your stubbornness. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, all that matters is that there is peace between you.” (By you sticking to your position you are placing it higher than My efforts to get you to forgive and move on, therefore you love being right more than you love doing right.)
Back to King Saul
You might ask, ‘Why does that passage say ‘rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (and stubbornness is as idolatry).’? How is rebellion as witchcraft and why are they related?
Witchcraft is (stubborn) manipulation. Lucifer stubbornly twisted truth and manipulated the other angels. So when a person stands their ground demanding they be judged right in a matter, they are stubbornly manipulating the situation to their own motives rather than simply forgiving and moving on. That’s why Paul asked: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (3:1)
The Galatians were being manipulated by believers who said they had to obey the laws and festivals of Israel, when the Word doesn’t say that.
Learn this: People in idolatry and witchcraft (manipulation) always complicate whatever matter is before them. God’s way is very simple – drop the offense, forgive and move on. But people in witchcraft and rebellion must complicate and muddy the issue in order to prove themselves right in their eyes as the offended party needing an apology.
God’s Word Says…
So now let us go back to Mr. Average Christian. He has been offended by something. That’s on one side of a paper, a left hand column. On the other side of the paper, a right hand column, is what God says:
‘As you stand praying, forgive…live a life worthy of the call you’ve received, be humble and patient, bearing one another in love…make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…you were taught to put off your old self…and put on your new self, which is created in the image of God in true righteousness and holiness…be kind and compassionate to one another even as Christ forgave your sins…follow God’s example and walk in the way of love…’ (Mk 11:25, parts of Ephesians 4 & 5)
So on one hand you have God saying grow up, forgive and move on, take the high ground, lay down your offense and hurt and sense of injustice and become Christ-like by forgiving.
On the other column Mr. Average Christian wants to stay in offense. He is an idolater. He is as one doing witchcraft by manipulating himself and others in his justification. The revealed Word is clear, yet he digs in his heels in his offense.
So Why Do Christians Get Offended?
It is because they would rather be offended than grow up in Christ. We have the idea that ‘laying down your life for another’ as Christ laid down His life for us means being inconvenienced by a friend asking us to drive 10 minutes out of our way to pick them up for church. Or maybe volunteering for a church program though it is hard work.
The truth is that laying down our lives for others mean taking the high ground when you could lash out, choosing NOT to be offended, when offended or hurt, covering that offense in love and letting it fall off you like water off a duck’s back. THAT is laying down your life for another.
Growing in Christ comes through doing what Jesus said to do when all your emotions, all your pride, all your sense of right and wrong cry out to be heard, cry out to be justified in the eyes of man. Growing in Christ happens by making difficult but right decisions in times when it would be so easy to retreat into hurt and rejection, so mad at the world you want to kick anyone that gets in your way. You lay down your life for the higher purpose of making peace, and move on.
Growing in Christ doesn’t happen by hearing the Word, but by doing the Word. All resistance to doing what you know God says is stubborn idolatry and manipulation and witchcraft.
Growing in Christ means learning how to make a hurt, an offense, an injustice, a lie against you, a mere moment in time instead of a lifetime.
Next week – how do you do that?