I suppose some readers may find the title of this post surprising. I ask that you bear with me and be quick to hear. Let us take a look at bullying, perhaps from a point of view, you never considered. Bullying is a problem that can have terrible results, as those in my community have recently been reminded. But, there is a way to respond to this problem in a way that can truly help those bullied. After all, isn’t that what we really want?
Jesus the Bullied
Think about this for a moment. Jesus is fully God. He has existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever in perfect relationship, lacking nothing. It was through Jesus that God the Father created the heavens and the earth. Yet, Jesus chose to become a man and live on earth to seek and save that which was lost…His people. What an amazing sacrifice! And yet, there is more.
Jesus, the sovereign Lord of the universe, came to earth fully knowing what was going to happen to Him. He was going to be bullied…bullied until He was killed.
Look at this prophecy from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who centuries before Jesus’ birth described just what Jesus’ life would be like.
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (53:2-3 ESV)
Isaiah, whose prophecy was inspired by God, was completely accurate in his description of Jesus. Consider the descriptions of Jesus’ life and ministry as described in the Gospels. He was constantly under verbal attack by the powerful groups of His day, including kings and religious leaders. They told all sorts of lies about Him and made fun of Him. The religious leaders told people they would no longer be welcome to worship with them if they were friends of Jesus. Eventually, their hatred led to them bringing false charges against Jesus, so that He was condemned to death. And they continued taunting Him as He hung on a cross.
I share this brief summary of Jesus’ life so that those suffering at the hands of bullies know they have a real friend in Jesus. He understands what you are going through. He has been where you are and He wants to help you.
Now, let’s take a look at some of what this man of sorrows, rejected by men, said in His most famous sermon. At the beginning, He lists several blessings.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted…Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5:3-4; 10-12 ESV)
Note what Jesus says to these people. He says they are blessed. Even in the midst of their being poor in spirit, mourning, and being persecuted and reviled, they are blessed. The descriptions of these people are not unlike those suffering from bullying. But, how are they blessed? They are blessed because such are the people Jesus came to seek and save.
Come to Me
Let’s consider something else Jesus says to these people? Later in his Gospel, Matthew, one of Jesus’ closest friends, shares this from Jesus. Jesus says,
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 12:11-28-30 ESV)
To those who are weary, including those laden with the pain of being bullied, He says come to Me! Like you, I am lowly in heart and I understand. For, you see, I was bullied too. But I have come for those like you. I have not come for those who consider themselves wise and who take advantage of their gifts or position to be mean to others, for they think they have no need of Me. No, I came for you, to bless you and give you rest. Yes, I know that in this world you will have troubles, but take heart my little one, I have overcome the world!
To the Bullied Waiting To Be Blessed
To those who find themselves in the midst of the pain and suffering of being bullied, Jesus says, “Come to Me.” He wants to befriend you and introduce you to His Father. But more than that, He wants to make you a part of His family, to become an adopted child of God and a brother or sister to Him. He wants to give you the Holy Spirit, who Jesus calls the Comforter, to be with you, to help you, and to make you more and more like Jesus Himself. And while the Holy Spirit is doing that, Jesus will be sitting by His Father praying for you and preparing a place for you to come to be with Him someday.
And there is more. He wants to give you an extended family right here and now. This is His church and He loves it so much, He sometimes calls it His bride. Jesus wants to give you people here and now, who will weep with you when you weep and rejoice with you when you rejoice, for when any part of His church suffers, we all suffer together. Now, these are not perfect people, often far from it. They don’t always get it all right and many are suffering like you. But they will be on the same path as you…the path to an eternity with Jesus.
So to the bullied, I say come to Jesus and find a group of His people who want to love you for Jesus’ sake. Find a church that believes in all the Bible says about Jesus and seeks the weary and heavy laden to share with them the good news of Jesus. See, they are looking for you. If you don’t know of such a church, contact me and I will help you find one. You see, I am one of those weary and heavy laden people who Jesus welcomed into His family. I would love to help you join our family.
To Those Wanting to Help the Bullied
I know there are many caring people who are moved by the often tragic results of bullying. If I can encourage you in any way I would say focus on the bullied and not the bullies, so that you do not risk becoming bullies yourself.
You see, often the immediate and primary response to bullying is to find someone blame and make them pay. And we can expend a great deal of effort hunting down those we can hold responsible. I understand. I have felt that too. But, we have to ask ourselves whether demanding schools and other institutions to develop tougher rules and policies against bullying is the only thing we can do or even the best use of our efforts. Remember, in our society we have many tough laws and policies against harmful behaviors, but unfortunately, they haven’t seemed to reduce the occurrence of these behaviors.
I am reminded that Jesus once responded to those who bullied Him by telling them they focused too much on smaller matters while neglecting the more important ones. In this case, I would suggest that those being bullied are the more important matters. So, rather than spending so much effort trying to punish those you can implicate in the bullying, why not spend that effort on the bullied. Be a friend. Invite them to be a part of your life. And most importantly, introduce them to Jesus, the one who was bullied, so they might one day live for eternity as part of God’s family.
So let’s try to shift our focus to the more important things: caring for the bullied. Like most of those reading this blog post, I haven’t always been the friend that I should have been. But I know where to find the help I need to do better. God has granted to us all things pertaining to life and godliness and He has revealed these things in His Word. So let’s commit ourselves to love our neighbor, particularly when that neighbor is a victim of bullying. For as much as we serve the least of those on earth, we serve our Lord Jesus.
Blessed are the Bullied
So yes, blessed are the bullied, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. To God alone be the glory. Amen.