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This week’s note from Rev. Bill

There’s a show that Kim and I watch (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) where, as kids, the wife was always popular and with the “In” crowd, and the husband always felt on the outside and awkward. It’s a comedy, and most of the episodes are about the daily trials of raising a family and living in the modern world. 

However, there are a few episodes that deal with bullying. When it comes out that their daughter has been bullying another girl at school, the father is aghast, but the mother is rather blasé. It was a particularly poignant episode about how those who experience bullying can recognize it right away, and those whose life was more “charmed” are more quick to make excuses for it. They don’t see anything wrong with keeping other people in their place, because if things change, they might lose their own place!

It reminded me of today’s political climate – there seems to be a lot of bullying going on. Threats, lawsuits, explosive language, “Us vs. Them” dialogue, setting up false narratives, ridiculing those who oppose you – that is the meat and potatoes of bullies. When a bully can’t win an argument, they shout louder. They claim that they are the victims. They do whatever they can to shut down the opposition, or delay, or doing something even more outrageous so that their everyday bullying actions seem tame by comparison. Bullies can only win if they can distract people from what the real problem is – their own attitudes and actions. 

Madelaine Petsch wrote recently, “The people who are bullying you, they’re insecure about who they are, and that’s why they’re bullying you. It never has to do with the person they’re bullying. They desperately want to be loved and be accepted, and they go out of their way to make people feel unaccepted so that they’re not alone.”

So what do we do in a world filled with bullies? Do we bully them back? 

No, Christ teaches us to love each other – and that means loving the bullies, too! But that doesn’t mean that we allow them to keep bullying. Bad behavior is bad behavior, and it needs to stop.

Perhaps the answer is found in John chapter 3 – where it talks about Jesus as the light of the world. Verse 19 says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

Our best strategy is to shine light. Practice faithfulness. Let your light be seen. The immediate result is that the bullies will then close in and focus on you, because they don’t like their deeds to be made known! But it is the first step in healing. When bullies are prevented from their actions, they will cry that they are being oppressed and their rights are being taken away – but it’s the only way that God can eventually convict and heal them. 

 How can we keep from being bullies (even to bullies)? The best way is to submit ourselves to the authority of others who are also honestly trying to follow Jesus, and ask them to help us to become as humble as Jesus was. 

May the peace (and humility) of Christ be with us all – 

  • Rev. Bill
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