Posted by Tim Harrelson

If you are bullying others…

There are several things that could be mentioned here, but since space is of the essence, we will only explore four vital areas the Bible shouts to those who are taking part in bullying others: (1) the abuse of people and power, (2) the extent of bullying, (3) the fact that there is only one judge, and (4) an ever-open invitation to repent.

Abuse: The Image of God and the Call from God

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” What is important to understand is that those whom you bully are just like you – they were created in the image of their Creator, just as you were. There is one Creator God, and we were all made in his image, to be his image-bearers to the ends of the earth. Our original purpose was to spread his purity, glory, love, and order throughout His created world (Gen 1:26-31). Each person is highly valued in His sight. He cares for His creatures. Therefore, bullying (or harassing or abusing) is a form of blasphemy against your Creator. The one who made you, knows you closer and deeper than you know yourself, and the one who provides each heartbeat, breath, and proper functioning of each atom of your body, is the ultimate one whom you are targeting. Each time you use your beating heart, your vocalized breath, your hands and feet to abuse the life of another made in the image of your Creator, you are breathing threats against Him. This is very unwise and not profitable for you. Furthermore, it shows a deeply-rooted carelessness and ignorance of God’s grand design in His creation. Losing awe over God’s creation is the first step on the path to abusing it. This includes humans. This ironically shows that the one who suffers most from your abuse is you in at least two ways. First, you intentionally mock your God and Creator who supplies your every need – though He is not required to. Second, you take part in blinding yourself to the glory of His creation, and therefore, to the glory of His essence. Simply put, you are missing out on living an abundant life filled with joy and satisfaction, through Jesus Christ – God’s merciful provision to abusers and slanderers.

Not only is the abuse of people an issue, but also an abuse of power. We are all drawn to power, for as we were created in God’s image, we fell from that glory to a selfish and lost mentality and status. Therefore, while we are drawn to power, we have impure motives for obtaining it and using it. In order to bring us to an awareness of power properly wielded (and to expose our abuse of such power), Jesus Christ, who is both fully God and fully man, came and, instead of dominating people, served their needs. In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul paints a picture of how we are to act, which he ties directly to who Christ is and what he has done. His main points lie in verses 3 and 8, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves…And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Here, we see the God-man, Jesus Christ, who could have ruled over earth with an iron fist, becoming obedient to the point of death – dying for the ones who sinned against him! Surely he who had possession of all the power would have exercised that power better than dying! But there is no greater power than this – that he who has it would give it up, for the sake of his friends. And this is the connect Paul makes in verse 3, “count others more significant than yourselves.” We wrongly use power to put others down to lift ourselves up to impress our peers and look good. In so doing, we have such a lust for power, that we forget about people being made in God’s image and our foundational purpose to serve each other as Christ has served us sinners. This passage in Philippians ends with victorious irony – the one who subjected himself to servanthood is now the Only Powerful King over all creation – everyone, everywhere, everything, every time.

Within the last point is this essential truth: Christ has all power, not you. What this means, then, is that, while you believe you are exercising power over another, there is one far greater who is exercising power over you. Paul states the fact in Colossians 1:16, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” The passage goes on to say that not only did Christ create them, but he also is ruling above them. If this includes powers such as “rulers or authorities” over nations, it most certainly means all those under them – meaning you and me. Therefore, it is for your benefit that you recognize that while it seems you are at the top by putting others down, you are really at the bottom of an infinitely long chain of command. But if you would rather settle for relative popularity in this life, be my guest. Don’t expect it to last long, but expect the punishment to be with you the rest of your life – and possibly eternity. The beauty here is, that Jesus obtained this power by becoming a servant who sacrificed his life that abusers and slanderers could believe on him, embrace his truth and sacrifice, and be restored to living in a right relationship with God our Creator. Why fight your way up the ladder through abuse when true life is found in sacrificial service?

Next week we’ll try to take up the second aspect listed above – the extent of bullying.