‘BAIT AND SWITCH’ ETHICS?

 

I was guiding a Sunday evening bible study class at our church, when I notice a fellow in the class whispering to others in the class. It was disruptive and I considered it impolite.

 

It turns out he was trying to sell Christmas card subscriptions, Christmas ornament subscriptions, and the like, before class time and during our teaching and discussion times.

I stopped our Bible teaching discussion and asked “Rick” what he was doing. He look surprised that I would confront him and blurted, “Just sharing some Christmas stuff”.

I replied that it looks like you are selling things to a ‘captive audience’, taking advantage of the trust we had developed in our group. We came here for Bible study and fellowship – not to be pressured into buying things. People will feel like this is a ‘Bait and Switch’ shop instead of a Church fellowship.

I asked him to put his materials away and not sell anything during, before or after our class time – or in the church without the church staff’s permission.

He sheepishly explained that, as an ‘out of work’ pastor, and working as a house painter, his family needed the money. I repeated myself and continued our class.

“Rick” and I had been acquainted as friends for some time, so he came to me afterwards to explain his position. I listened but maintained his methods were opportunistic and manipulative. There were better ways to make extra money and if they were in financial straits the Church could help them. He explained that he just needed ‘extra income’ for the holidays.

What are the ethics, here? Do the situations surrounding this event affect how it should have been handled, i.e., are “situational ethics” involved here? Could I have handled this better? This was a minor situation, hardly worth mentioning, and certainly not worth discussing. It was dealt with and is done.

What it does remind me of, in a round-about sort of way, is how people will ‘say one thing, then do another’, or will ‘buy one thing and get something altogether different’, like the ‘bait-and-switch technique’.

This may be all-too-common in our world, but it should not be so in Christian’s lives and certainly not so in our Churches and this is where common sense and ethics – Christian Ethics – come into play.

I would like to explain this point by defining the parameters and by giving a few examples:

First, and as ridiculous as it sounds, you do not go to a football field to play basketball; nor do you go to an airport to catch a cruise ship or climb mount Everest for dinner and an evening matinee.

Additionally, I go to the doctor expecting to get healthcare. I don’t expect and don’t understand why (nor do I appreciate) being sold ‘aroma therapy products’, health insurance alternatives or a being sold a new ‘concierge health plan’. I came for what they advertised – and for what I signed up for: getting well and staying well.

The same goes for my dentist, my bank, and especially for my church.

Secondly, when you or I became a Christian the ‘playing field changes’ – completely! In other words, we don’t operate by the world’s standards. Jesus has told us that we are not to look like or operate like this world because we are no longer part of this world. Ours are the higher standards of the Word of God. Read John 18:36, “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

And, again in John 17:16, in His prayer to The Father, Jesus says, “They (His disciples – i.e., Christians) are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

The point is that we cannot be effective as a disciple of Jesus if we are doing the wrong things, in the wrong ways in the wrong places.

“We are ambassadors for Christ. God is making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)

“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

We are not to be conformed to this world. We are to be transformed by the renewal of our mind, so that we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (see Romans 12:2)

The issues of having a Christian World View, engaging a lost world and making Christian disciples, must be a pretty big problem in religious circles and in the Church. In fact, our Church is offering classes on the subject of how to engage this world ethically and still be effective without disputes. We have even had a Seminary Professor come to speake on the subject of Christian Ethics.

Focus on the Family ministry and Dr. Del Tackett through The Truth Project have spent enormous effort and resources over the last twenty years to teach and promote a “Christian World View” in the areas of ethics, philosophy, law, the media, history, humanities, sociology, the church, impacting over 20 million Christians and their Churches. Still, the problem persists and is growing.

I have attended training as a facilitator and teacher for the Truth Project and held sessions in my home and at our church, teaching and training others. I continue to attend classes and teaching sessions at my church to stay current. But our society and social our norms are changing so rapidly that it is hard to keep up.

What I have learned has taken scores of hours and hundreds of hours of practice through application and has been only marginally successful. It is just too much and too complex.

So, I have gone to prayer and Bible study and have found the answer to “How do we engage our world with Christ, going forward?” (A question asked frequently in training classes.)

ANSWER: We go forward by going back. Going back to the Bible and the few simple things Jesus taught and demonstrated.

First, Jesus did not engage in idle discussions or worthless, silly or divisive debates. He was silent when silence was best and answered questions that were relevant to His Mission. This is our example:

“Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.”  (Matthew 27:11-14)

Jesus says, “It was for this reason that Jesus came into the world”.

 1.  TO TESTIFY TO THE TRUTH

John 18:37 “Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this purpose, I have been born, and for this I have come into the world: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”  

 2.  TO BRING A SWORD

Matthew 10:34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Verse 35, For I came to TURN A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; verse 36, and A PERSON’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.”

 3.  TO FULFILL THE LAW

Matthew 5:17 “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.”  

 4.  TO CALL SINNERS

Mark 2:17 “And hearing this, Jesus *said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

 5.  TO SAVE THE WORLD

John 12:47If anyone hears My teachings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

 6.  TO CAST FIRE & BRING DIVISION UPON THE EARTH

Luke 12:49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! Verse 50,  But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Verse 51, Do you think that I came to provide peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather to create division; “

The Point here, is that as followers and disciples of Jesus, the attitude, methods and ways of Jesus are to be our calling, our attitude and our methods and ways, also.

 “WHAT HE REALLY MEANT?”

Jesus has told us, in John 14:12, “Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father. Verse 13. And whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Verse 14. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

I have heard so many preachers, bible teachers and detractors alike, try to justify or explain away these Words of Jesus because they just cannot fathom the gentle and sweet ‘dashboard Jesus’ saying such things as we find in the verses cited.  These same confused preachers really get tied in a knot over John 14:12.  They will begin their commentary of teaching it with, “what this really means is…”.

It is interesting that Jesus commanded His disciples (Christians) to do the works that He has done and even greater works than these.  We are to continue in His mission, using His methods and His ways. (John 14:12, Matthew 10:1)

This can be a bit confusing, but only if you are at the ‘wrong place, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time’.

These words and these actions make perfect sense if you understand that you are not from this world – and that your ‘home field’ is the Kingdom of Heaven; these are not your words, but the ‘Word of God’; and, the time is now.

Your Hope isn’t in ‘what you can accomplish’, it is in what Jesus has already accomplished. It is your mission and calling to ‘walk in these good works which God prepared ahead of time.

He promised us that He will be with us, in His authority, giving us direction and even giving us the words we should use.  (Matthew 28:16-19, Luke 21:15, Luke 12:12).

So, I repeat,

(#1). Jesus makes a distinction between sin and the sinner, or evil and the one perpetrating evil. God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, to save the world, not to condemn the world. But Jesus came to show us the way to defeat the evil one, and He will destroy every last vestige of evil.

(#2). We have new weapons for this warfare. Spiritual weapons, which are much more powerful than man made weapons. Because we are carnal creatures, we love to take matters into our own hands. But the physical world is the final manifestation of the Spiritual world. We must believe and know the battle is to be fought and won in the Spiritual realm, first. Then, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

(#3). The shift is away from the temporal or the physical manifestation of evil, and onto the source and root cause of evil which is being fought in the heavens or the spiritual world, so it would not manifest in the physical world.

Just like the first disciples and Apostles, we are to lift the name and person of Christ, in how we live and what we say. We are to present the Living Word and call all people to Christ.

At the same time, we are to confront evil wherever it is found and to pull down the strongholds of evil, silence the ignorance of the foolish, take captive every thought through the spoken Word of God.

Having done all this, we are to continue to stand strong, trusting in the Lord, and He will exact His righteous justice and vengeance toward the unrepentant and the wicked.

Although there may be times when God will call upon you as His instrument of judgment, be very cautious. Anything more that we may do on our part is an assumption that we can replace God by taking matters into our own hands.

WHAT THIS WOULD LOOK LIKE? 

It was for this reason that Jesus sends you into the world:

 1.  TO TESTIFY TO THE TRUTH

  “Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this purpose, I have been born, and for this I have come into the world: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”  

So, you say you are a Christian? Answer: Yes.

Where do you get your information and authority?

ANSWER: My information, as you put it, comes from God, the Bible and my authority is the authority of Jesus.

 2.  TO BRING A SWORD

Matthew 10:34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Verse 35, For I came to TURN A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; verse 36, and A PERSON’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.”

I thought you were supposed be nicer, bringing peace? Answer: Yes. But, there is not peace in this world. Jesus is that peace you are looking for.

Where do you get your information and authority?

ANSWER: From God, the Bible and Jesus.

 3.  TO FULFILL THE LAW

Matthew 5:17 Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.”  

Aren’t you being ‘legalistic’ and old fashioned?  ANSWER: (Silence).

Didn’t Jesus come to set us free from the law? 

ANSWER:  Jesus set us from the ‘law of sin and death’, and He fulfilled the law and the prophets of the old testament.

 4.  TO CALL SINNERS

Mark 2:17 And hearing this, Jesus *said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Who are you to call me a sinner?

ANSWSER:  No one human being is without sin, not even one person. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of perfection.

What if I don’t believe you, the Bible or in God?

ANSWER:  Though you are a sinner, God still loves you. Neither God nor I condemn you. It is your unbelief that judges you and condemns you.

 5.  TO SAVE THE WORLD

John 12:47If anyone hears My teachings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

You are being judgmental.

ANSWER: I am not judging you and neither does God judge you; your own unbelief are your judge and your condemnation.

 6.  TO CAST FIRE & BRING DIVISION UPON THE EARTH

Luke 12:49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! Verse 50,  But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Verse 51, Do you think that I came to provide peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather to create division; “

You are being divisive and the Bible is divisive. Can’t we just co-exist?

ANSWER: It was written in the Bible, centuries ago, that as all things come to an end, God will separate the righteous from the unrighteous. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, entire families will be separated on this account.

It gives God great joy that those who have been justified in His sight will be rewarded with blessing untold.

It grieves God that those who have rejected Him have chosen to an eternal damnation, an eternal darkness, punishment in a fiery hell where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The Point here, is that as followers and disciples of Jesus, the attitude, methods and ways of Jesus are to be our calling, our attitude and our methods and ways, also.

 “WHAT HE REALLY MEANT?”

I have heard so many so-called pastors, preachers, bible teachers and detractors alike, try to justify or explain away these Words of Jesus because they just cannot fathom the gentle and sweet ‘dashboard Jesus’ saying such things as we find in the verses cited.  Jesus said what He meant and meant exactly what He said.

Regardless of what form the growing apostasy toward the Bible and the Gospel and rebellion against God takes, whether it is through anthropology, geology, history, labor, law, philosophy, politics, science, sociology, theology or  even the threat of Communist-Marxist-Globalism.

Jesus is our model and His ways are our method for counter-culturalism and the resistance to the growing threat of evil.

Our message is the Gospel. A message of reconciliation with God for all people. And we need to gird up and get on with it.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13

PS: A quote from a movie, where a general, upon being advised the strategy of the war has changed from destroying a nation and killing the its inhabitants as the enemy, to restoring relations with the nation and saving the people of that nation, the general says, “So, you are telling me we are going to save these people? And, in order to save them, we have to stop killing them?”

THE ANSWER:  Yes.

PPS: One of our seminary professor-guest-speakers asked this off-handed question, “Do you think you should you invite a Marxist to Church, and if so, what would you say to them?” (He said ‘yes’, should.)

I say however, go ahead and invite a Marxist to Church, but be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove. Understand that they are not ‘born that way’. They are not confused about what they believe. They are indoctrinated and trained zealous idealogues. They believe, teach and practice the subjugation of Christians and the eradication of Christianity. There is no middle ground.

Preach and teach the Gospel. Do not incorporate those who reject the Gospel into the household of God.

Jesus said what He meant and meant exactly what He said.  He is our model for our counter cultural resistance to the growing global threat.

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