Thursday, November 17, 2016

Anti-bullying Week - 2016

This week is anti-bullying week. It’s an annual event, since the problem never goes away. Different bullies, different victims, same old story each time…

Jesus Christ was a target for bullies. It is incredible to think that the man who the Bible portrays as the most powerful man in the universe was subjected to so much abuse – verbal, physical, psychological, personal, institutional. You name it, He suffered it. What was His attitude to the bullies He faced? It is summed up by His words from the cross. “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

He trusted in God

God will ultimately put right every wrong. This is the hope of all believers. Others may mock “Where is the God of justice?” but genuine faith leaves God as the Judge to reward right and deal with wrong. What’s the best bullying support hotline? It’s a direct line to heaven – look up and call out to God. We need to act to prevent bullying and to support those who are bullied but often the deepest hurt that is caused by this despicable behaviour can only be resolved by the presence of God in a person's life.

He pitied his attackers

This is the result of sheer strength of character. The innocent man (indeed the Bible teaches he was a holy, righteous man), Jesus, had been so cruelly treated. His face was beaten to a pulp. His body was bruised and torn. And what does He cry out for? Revenge? No! Forgiveness? Yes! He uncovers their deepest need. This need is shared with all humanity. We need God’s forgiveness which is granted on the basis of what Jesus did when died on the cross. We deserve hell – and God knows it! But He wants heaven for us. God accepts us if we accept His Son – the One who died to make forgiveness a reality.

He identifies the underlying problem

At the heart of it, bullies are ignorant. They feel insecure and insignificant. Violence is their unintelligent (indeed unimaginative!) response. They can’t see the consequence of their actions. To victimise others is, in a sense, to dehumanise oneself. Bullying is despising God and destroying my neighbour, whereas fulfilled humanity is loving God and loving my neighbour. But how can we ever achieve this morally Herculean goal? Come to the cross – not to lash out in abuse at the Son of God, but to learn from Him. First receive forgiveness. Then develop love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control – as the Spirit of Christ works in you.

My prayer this week is for the many children, young people and adults who have been bullied; but I am also feel that the bullies need our prayers. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Sin affects us all and what a better society we will have when humankind recognise sin, turn from it and accept the forgiveness that is freely available from Him.

May this week be the start of better things for you whether you be the victim or the bully.

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