This post is being simultaneously published at the website of Leslie Vernick.
I’ve been urged to watch 13 Reasons Why to see the 13 reasons [why] a friend hates it so much. (Though I’ve read and heard enough about it to understand it, so far I’ve been able to get through only the first episode). The bullying she personally experienced at her Christian school, she said, was pretty much everything that happened in this Netflix series, and more.
One of the most important things she described to me about her school was the dynamic of bullying. Some students there were genuinely nice people, but they lived in such an environment of fear that whenever the main bullies were around, they remained silent or even participated in the bullying if necessary, so they wouldn’t become a target. (You may wonder why no one tried to alert teachers or administrators about this massive problem, but someone did and it wasn’t believed, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog post.)
So while I was pondering the dynamics of a bullying school environment that went stratospherically beyond anything I had experienced in my own high school days of mild bullying, we heard a sermon on Galatians 2.
“Well, what do you know,” says I to myself, “there it is again!”
The story goes that the apostle Peter and the other Jewish Christians were actually welcoming the Gentile Christians and even eating with them (a truly big deal in those days) . . . until the bullies came.
The bullies weren’t swaggering studs or prima donna divas; they were Continue reading
Hypocrisy. Presenting oneself one way (perceived as good) in public while actively living a different way (definitely bad) in private. Sort of like this:
hypocrisy: evil with a Superman mask, from the cover photo for “Unholy Charade,” photo credit Stephanie Council
And of course the problem of hypocrisy is made far worse if the hypocrite isn’t just presenting himself as good but is also admonishing others to walk in a certain way— the way he walks.
Isn’t that why Jesus reserved His harshest words for the Continue reading
One of the most memorable Peanuts comic strips to me in my childhood ran roughly like this:
Linus was complaining about how Lucy always harassed him.
Charlie Brown: Next time, get her to define her terms.
Lucy (later, to Linus): You’re fat! Continue reading
The book of Romans . . . I printed it out so that I could highlight sections and color code words and draw arrows and fill the margins with question marks and write cross references and draw pictures of stick figures . . . When I was studying through it, then—asking the Lord to make the book fresh to me, to strip away preconceived notions of what everything “had to mean,” and show me what it really meant-—it was then that many important Christian Life truths throughout the book began to crystallize. And I began to understand that Paul was refuting the concept of Living by the List. And he was describing three . . . no, it was four . . . reactions to it. This was immensely important to me, because I grew up Living by the List. Continue reading
No, all sins are not equal.
Corollary: Some sins are worse than others. Our entire justice system is built on this concept.
But Christians have been conditioned to think that it’s false. Continue reading
I surely can’t be the only one who skips over some Scriptures a hundred times, a thousand times, maybe, and then suddenly one day, as I’m asking the Lord to open the Scriptures to me, He opens some obscure little phrase in a way I never expected.
(That’s what makes reading the Bible exciting.) Continue reading