Posted by: minnow | December 8, 2008

Bible Thumping 102

Mark 8:38 says: “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Romans 1:16 says: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

In an earlier post I referenced these two scriptures indicating that they are often used against people who would call into question typical Bible thumping tactics.  Thumpers hurl these scriptures at fellow believers in order to reprimand them for a lack of faithfulness to the gospel or as a means of justifying their own actions while at the same time raising a disapproving eyebrow toward those who would dare to question the Thumper’s behavior.  As I mentioned in my previous post, these scriptures silenced me for years.  In part I reacted to a fear of man and in part I was lazy.  In other words, I did not search out the scripture for myself.  Now that I have grown up a little (and grown I hope a little wiser in my old age) I know to study and pray and then proceed.

Let us look at the verse from Mark. Jesus is speaking.  He has just admonished Peter saying, “Get behind me, Satan.” Those are pretty strong words to use toward a friend.  Now He gets everyone else’s attention and says, “If anyone would come after Me [carry on Christ’s ministry], he must deny himself [This is not going to be a military revolution folks; you have to do it His way.] and take up his cross [a humiliating death–to self] and follow me…What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? [Power, control, greed can not save you.]…If any one is ashamed of Me and My words…”  So, what was He talking about before He admonished Peter?  He was predicting His death.  His closest followers already identified Him as the Christ.  Now, He was letting everyone know what was going to happen to Him (the humiliating death part).  And in verse 38, He is telling the rest of the crowd basically what He told Peter–‘if My death embarrasses you, if you know who sent Me and how I have taught you to live and you rather fight with swords for power and control then you are an embarrassment to Me and My teachings.’

Looking at a verse in context goes a long way toward understanding the intent and purpose of the verse.  The use of Mark 8:38 by Bible Thumpers in order to put others in their place takes this verse out of context.  It is an inappropriate manipulation of scripture.  Thumpers try to make it sound as if the others are ashamed of Jesus when in truth the others defend Jesus as the Prince of Peace and are embarrassed by the careless wielding of the sword by Bible Thumpers.

Romans 1:16 is a much easier verse to explore.  While Thumpers often use it to defend their ugly behavior, implying that anyone who questions their tactics must be “ashamed of the gospel”, their detractors do not need to pick up the offense.  Exchanging ugliness for ugliness does not advance the gospel.  Ugly talk can be exposed best by displaying an opposite spirit.  It should not be engaged in debate because when we give it a response we simply add fuel to its fire.

The “adulterous and sinful” generation Jesus referred to in Mark 8:38 looked an awful lot like the ugly political and religious voices of our day.  Control, power, greed, legalism, and religious spirit–these were and are the powers and principalities of the enemy.  And, they can not be defeated by violent rebellion any easier today then they could in Jesus’ day.  Gandhi understood this spiritual principle well when he told his listeners: “You be the change you want to see in the world.”  We would do well to take Gandhi’s advice.

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Responses

  1. that’s a pretty powerful post. if u wouldn’t mind me rambling here for a bit…. maybe you can help talk/walk me through some of my thoughts haha.

    I’ve never heard those verses used in the context you described them at all. I am pretty sure I was taught to believe that Mark 8:38 especially was talking about the entire Message of Jesus and not one message/lesson.

    I see that some probably use it as a ‘tactic’… but although I learned it in the same context and probably even used it in that context in discussion before – I don’t think I used it as a ‘tactic’ or ‘used it’ to defend ugly behavior. I believe it can be used in the same context that thumpers use it and do good — when coming with the right tone/heart. I am pretty sure I still believe after reading it again just now that Jesus meant His whole ministry & all His words. and I don’t think that using it in that context automatically makes me a thumper. The tone/heart of a person is what makes them a thumper, right?

    I don’t think we should be ashamed of any of Jesus’ words & teaching. I guess what I’m saying is that if I believe that verse in mark is referring to Jesus entire ministry and ALL His words — His teaching about marriage, Himself, life, other commandments, the Spirit, anything He talked about it….. I don’t think I am a thumper because of that belief in context alone.

    it’s when I have a heart & tone that sends the message that *I* follow His Word perfectly and that *I* am not ashamed because ____ whatever reason but here’s something for YOU to learn…. that’s when it’s thumping right?

    anyway — I do get what you’re saying. and I very much believe that many of us want Jesus to be something He’s not like Peter (a political power…. a power that is very evident & seen & respected in society)

    I hope I made some sense — probably not 🙂 I’ve probably just made you as confused as I made me. but thanks for making me think. I’ll have to spend more time on it…. haha

  2. never fear Randi–You (in my opinion) are not as confused as you think. Tone and attitude are in deed what makes the difference. I think it’s usually spelled P-R-I-D-E. That said, some times nice sounding words, that are not actually full of self but full of zeal for the message can, if not being lead by the Spirit, wound and turn frightened and wounded people away. My husband was a worker out at Wilderness Ranch for a couple summers. The staff there had a saying:Earn the right to be heard. They would take inner city “tough” kids out on the trail and until they “proved” themselves in some way they were not going to be heard. I guess, for me, the degree to which I am willing to invest into a relationship is the degree to which I have a “right” to speak into someone’s life. I don’t want to throw out the other post I wrote admitting that I need to be willing to be a witness. I just think the great commission says go and make disciples, not go and make converts. Discipleship takes time and investment. With your heart for people, Randi, I don’t think you have to worry about ever being a “thumper”.

  3. I totally agree with you here and I appreciate your encouragement – I do worry that I was a thumper and I really do not want to be.

    So many people do make the mistake of speaking and saying the most destructive thing possible….thinking that it’s so important for words to be heard to “plant seeds”…not realizing that if that relationship is not formed – then that person’s ears & heart are not opened so all you will do will mostly likely make an adversary and somebody to debate with rather than somebody to walk with. People very much listen to our tone & delivery as representative of Jesus much more than our words. I loved your words in this response.

    I actually had to learn this lesson from my hubby — to be patient that the time will eventually be right to say something…. that I will be given my chance. He has really helped me become such a better listener & in that silence/stillness I really am able to ‘hear’ the Spirit more and figure out if He’s nudging to say anything or to just listen & show empathy. Just because there is quiet doesn’t mean that’s the right time to speak 🙂 I have not always been as slow to speak as I should be.

    I have really learned a lot from hubby Brandon — sometimes it really is just a personality flaw that makes people do certain things – thinking they are doing it out of love/concern… but ultimately it’s mostly because they are not in tune with the Spirit and don’t discern/sense what is needed in the moment. the Spirit isn’t loud – He is quiet and unless we are quiet long enough — we will never hear Him.

    anyway just more rambling 🙂 I really really agree with your comment here so much and it’s one of the biggest weaknesses I believe in many church bodies….. thinking real relationships can be formed meeting one hour a week…. and then thinking we have the ‘right’ to teach/preach/’sharpen’ while we haven’t even yet shown these people how valuable they are. how loved & accepted they are and letting them know we appreciate their voice.

    xoxo 🙂

  4. You both really have some good points. There really isn’t much more to say. If you are really willing to act the change out then you will be able to change the world. It does not matter what you can say or what verses from the bible you know if you don’t walk it out and turn it into your own. I mean we can’t just be told we need to look in to it ourselves. Ok well I thank you for writing that post and have a GREAT week.


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