I remember when our sons were in elementary school and had to face a bully. You know what I’m speaking about. While the details are irrelevant, my husband and I were aware that if the bully was not confronted, then the bullying would persist. Right? Can you recall a bullying situation in your own life? Our sons quickly learned how to confront and the bullying stopped.
Bullying is actually a spirit of intimidation. The purpose of this spirit is manifold, but for believers in Christ Jesus, this spirit comes against us to stop the work of God in our lives and to cause the gifts of God inside of us to be dormant. Jesus faced bullying in the Garden of Gethsemane. The battle was over His will or the Father’s will. Thank God that Jesus never sinned and accomplished the purpose for which He came! Hallelujah! However, in the Garden, for the “first time, we see the will of the Father and the will of the Son in conflict in the life of Jesus….It exposed the only thing that could hold Him back-choosing to fulfill the will of the Father another way and thereby saving Himself” (Bevere, 1997, p. 118).
After three hours of prayer, Jesus won this battle and was ready and fully equipped to fulfill His purpose – to defeat the works of the devil. What works? Why the works that occurred in another garden – the Garden of Eden. The devil deceived Eve and she ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She handed the fruit to her husband, who was standing beside her, and Adam dishonored God and his wife and chose his will above God’s will. He was self-centered which led to disobedience. He gave the authority that God had given to him, which was to have dominion over all the earth, to the devil. The devil now had a legal right to use his stolen authority against all of God’s creation.
Jesus defeated the devil 4,000 years later. Jesus gained His rightful authority on earth back (legally) in order for His purpose to be accomplished through His beloved Church. In fact, He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Once again, mankind and God are able to walk together in agreement and God’s will on earth can be done as it is in Heaven. A born-again believer has full authority to accomplish God’s will.
So, why are Christians being bullied and still giving their authority over to the bully over and over and over and over? Why are we not reigning and ruling on this earth as God originally planned? Intimidation is one of the main reasons. And, for the most part, many believers are completely blind to this spirit and until recently, I was one of them.
A few days ago, I went to visit a very kind neighbor for the first time. We had small talk over tea and I asked her what type of work she did. She told me that she has several homes around the world that she founded where she houses hundreds of young girls and boys who come from abuse of all kinds. WOW! How awesome, I thought and told her so. But, a little bit of jealousy was stirring in me. I didn’t tell her. As I listened to her describe how she left her position as a CFO after hearing a “call” on her life, I grew even more envious of her accomplishments.
Her life was free and she was serving her divine purpose. Sometime during the conversation, I made a comment to that effect; that she was blessed to be walking in her call from God. She quickly said that she liked to think about God as a creative force…and went on. I was shell-shocked from the bomb that she had just dropped. How can anyone think of my beloved God as a “creative force”? I replied in a rather feeble voice that God is real, He’s not a creative force and He desires a personal relationship with us. I think that I said that we were created in His image and we are not creative forces. Did I detect a roll of the eyes?
She changed the subject and went on to talk more about her works, which are admirable by the world’s standards. But, the atmosphere had changed and I felt uncomfortable. I wanted to talk about God and share my love for Him with her. But I did not. I did not want to offend her, for after all, I just sat down with her for the first time so that we could get to know one another. If I offended her, I may not get a chance to show her God’s love and help her see that God is quite real and desires intimacy with us. I felt embarrassed that I was not walking in the things that God put in my heart for many years and was intimidated into silence. I did not understand the magnitude of that afternoon and how God would use it to transform me even more into His image.
I came home and spoke to my husband about our meeting, but did not reveal the embarrassment that I felt about my “pitiful life”. After all, I did not want to make my husband feel bad about the course of our lives together. But, I was miserable. I asked God why this woman, who calls Him a “creative force” and has no love for Him in her heart was being blessed to do “great things” and yet I was struggling in every area of life. And while we’re at it, why do so many people in the world who could care less about You seem to have all the blessings and favor while your Church is struggling and suffering? I don’t get it, I cried out. What is wrong, Father? God was listening and He was answering me….
The next day, I had lunch with another friend who is a godly woman. I told her my experience the day before. To my surprise, I revealed that I felt intimidated. My friend asked me why I felt that way. I responded that I did not know why and she said that she would bring me a book to read that would help me understand intimidation. The book, “Breaking Intimidation – How to Overcome Fear and Release the Gifts of God in Your Life” by John Bevere, was in my hands in two days. Okay, Father, this is great and I began reading.
As the Holy Spirit began to speak clearly to my heart, many scenes from my life passed through my mind. I began to see what had been happening to me over the years as God exposed the spirit of intimidation that had been operating in my life. I was once again shell-shocked…but this time, it was God dropping His truth into the territory that the enemy had taken possession of inside of me.
Back to Jesus and the Garden…
Jesus deliberated for three hours in that Garden “until He knew His battle was won. His will was totally one with the Father’s. He was now ready to face the intimidation of the enemy at the hands of the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers” (Bevere, 1997, p. 118).
“And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?’ But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly” (Matthew 27:12-14).
“Boldness is not how loudly or how much we talk. It is also found in silence – silence while false accusations are thrown in your face. Jesus stayed in His authority by not reacting. He knew they had no power over Him. To react would indicate they did. They attempted to control Jesus with their accusations, threats and powerful positions. To answer them would be folly, for they had no concern for the truth. Jesus knew they couldn’t take His life because He had already given it to the Father!” (Bevere, 1997, p. 118-119). The silence that Jesus had was not the same as the silence that I had experienced that afternoon a few days ago. A spirit of intimidation had silenced me.
“The root of fear and intimidation is the love of self. Perfect love casts out fear and gives us boldness. Boldness born of love breaks the grip of intimidation. Imperfect love, or self-love opens the door to intimidation….Jesus said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life…’ (John 15:13). When we truly lay down our lives out of love for Jesus, we will no longer care what happens to us because we know we are committed into His care. Then we are dead and hidden in Him….He purchased us; therefore, whatever happens to us is His concern only. We just love and obey. Fear should no longer torment us because a dead person can’t be tormented. You can point a gun at a man in a casket and threaten him, but he won’t even blink” (Bevere, 1997 p. 119-120).
Today, as the spirit of intimidation in my life is exposed and defeated, I pray the same for you. I highly recommend the book that I referenced here. Christians must understand our authority, our position and the tactics that the enemy uses against us so that we can go forward in the plan that God has for each one of us. There is nothing that can compare to a life that has been laid down and given to Jesus. Being hidden in Him is the safest place in the universe. Therefore, we have boldness to do all that He has given us to do. May you be filled with the Spirit of Boldness from God, whether in speaking or in silence.
Bevere, John. Breaking Intimidation: How to Overcome Fear and Release the Gifts of God in Your Life. Creation House. Lake Mary, FL. 1997