Practical Application of the Word of God
Bullying is an epidemic at this point in the history of humans. It is often cloaked in actions that are considered benign, but the motives and attitudes behind it are anything but benign.
It’s always been around, as we can see from the pages of God’s word (I will show some examples later and some of them may surprise you because we tend to think of bullying in very narrow terms), but it seems to have become more of a default and acceptable way of being as time has progressed.
I doubt there is a human being on this planet that has not been bullied at some point in their lives. The proclivity to bully other people seems to be an inherent part of our human nature for most people.
A lot of Christians are bullies. I don’t think, for the majority, that they are intentional bullies. I don’t think, for the majority, that they are even aware that they are bullies.
And perhaps that’s the essence of the problem: our own personal lack of awareness and lack of cognition.
It’s easy to see bullying in other people. It is almost impossible to see it in ourselves.
Why do people bully other people?
What does bullying look like?
The interesting thing about bullies is that they believe their bullying is effective 100% of the time. Therefore, if someone ignores them, refuses to engage, or says an exasperated “you’re right and I’m wrong” and walks away, bullies think they’ve won.
Because, yes, bullying is about winners and losers. Bullies are always winners and everybody else is always the loser. It can’t be any other way for bullies.
So bullies never recognize that people who ignore them, don’t engage with them, and essentially do the “talk to the hand” gesture when they say “you’re right and I’m wrong” and walk away are refusing to be bullied.
Arguing with a bully does no good. Confronting a bully does no good. Reasoning with a bully does no good. Because bullies are always right, none of what works in healthy and normal human relationships works.
So the only recourse we have with bullies is to check out, shut down, and symbolically (and most often literally) walk away for good.
Is that biblical, you might ask?
Aren’t we supposed to love our enemies? Aren’t we supposed to bear with one another? Aren’t we supposed to just put up with it?
The short answer is “no.”
Look at the example of Isaac and the wells in Genesis 26:12-33.
Look at the example of Jacob and Laban in Genesis 29 through Genesis 31.
Look at the example of David and Saul in I Samuel 16 through I Samuel 31.
Look at the example of Elijah and Jezebel in I Kings 19.
Look at the example of Jesus Christ in John 7:1-9.
Bullying is the opposite of God’s instruction to all of us as Christians.
Bullying is not loving your neighbor as yourself.
Bullying has none of the fruit of God’s spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
Bullying is an example of breaking the 6th commandment that Christ expounded on in Matthew 5:21-22.
Bullying is abuse. Bullying is oppression. Bullying is evil. Much of the content of both the major and minor prophets is God’s judgment on abuse, oppression, and evil and the forms of bullying it takes.
If we are called by God, are given to Jesus Christ, have received the gift of God’s spirit through repentance and baptism, then we are without excuse if we are guilty of bullying other people anywhere in our lives.
We may not realize that we are bullies. But we are responsible for our behavior – and whether it syncs up with God’s and Jesus Christ’s in all ways and at all times – so this is an area that we all need to carefully examine in each of our lives.
God is not a bully. Jesus Christ is not a bully.
Are you? Am I?