Am I a Bully?

A week ago today our youth engaged in a tough conversation. We talked about a topic that has infiltrated our culture. We talked about a topic that is a wide-spread epidemic that needs to be stopped. For the last three years, one of the biggest cultural buzzwords is “bullying.”  Anti-bullying laws are being passed, celebrity personalities are endorsing these laws, and in March, 2012, the documentary, BULLY, was released. Believe it or not, bullying is present in our schools, our work environments, our homes, and in the church.

Bullying can be split into six categories: verbal (name-calling or threatening), psychological (stalking or intimidating), social (ignoring or gossiping), physical (hitting or stealing possessions) and cyber (abuse via technology). Bullying comes in all shapes and sizes. Bullying isn’t anything new; it has been around for years. Counselors and psychologists like to point out the motives behind bullying. Some mention that people bully because they are insecure, and others say people bully because they have a sense of entitlement.

Personally, I don’t think that the motive of the person matters. No matter the motive, it is wrong. Let’s take the word “bullying” out of the picture and just call it what it is—sin. My friends, this is a real issue, and it isn’t just in our schools. We also see this in the church. Like some of you, I grew up in a Christian home. I will be the first to admit I wore the rose-colored glasses of naivety to issues like this. We in the church do not treat people the way we should. I have heard wiser men than I say, “Christians treat non-believers better than they treat their brothers and sisters in Christ.” I see something wrong with this statement. Just because we aren’t physically harming each other or shoving people in lockers doesn’t mean we aren’t bullying. In the church, bullying takes other forms: gossip, intimidation, and even ignoring others. God commands us to love our neighbors. Look at these simple, but true passages:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John13:34)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)

As I mentioned earlier, bullying is not an insecurity or entitlement; it is a heart issue. Search your heart, and ask God to reveal how to love others better. All throughout the Scriptures, we are mandated on what godly relationships look like and how we should treat each other. I am discouraged at what I see the world becoming. We are called to be a light in this dark place. My challenge to you is to “check yourself.” As I write this, I am searching my heart and thinking through how I treat other people. I ask you to do the same.