Bullies stink. Thank God I grew up in a loving home with parents and a brother who always stuck up for me. They also were brave enough to tell me when I was wrong. It’s not easy growing up in this fallen world as a short, fat boy with red hair and freckles. Kids can be mean, and I was the butt of many jokes and teases. When I was in elementary school, I remember having a crush on one of the little girls that rode my bus. One day, I worked up the courage to ask her if she wanted to be my girlfriend. She smiled politely, looked me in the eye, and told me that I was a nice boy, but that she couldn’t be my girlfriend because I was too fat. It still stings writing that last sentence all these year later… I get it though. She was trying to protect her own fragile little heart. Bullying is like cancer. It spreads to the tissues around the site of the tumor. This little girl was just afraid of being teased for having a fat boyfriend. I’m so glad that my beautiful wife was able to look past this mess to see my heart 30 years ago.
I’m not writing this for you to feel sorry for me. I’m actually thankful (now) for the bullies in my life because it forced me to develop a thicker skin and stronger soul. Because of those bullies, I have pushed myself through life to show others that I’m not junk. You don’t have to be tall, dark, and handsome to excel in life (although it helps!). I may not be able to dunk a basketball, and I will never get a gig as male model, but I’m OK with that.
I have a friend who works with many famous people, and I asked him recently what they were like. He said that they all seem depressed and lonely when they are apart from people but that they seem to come alive when they get around their adoring fans. That is sad to me. I hope that my self-worth is never reliant on the admiration of others. My self-worth comes from knowing that I am a child of the Living God and that I have a wife, kids, and friends who love me just the way I am. They love me for who I am, not for what they want me to be. If fame skews our self-worth compass, then why would we ever seek fame for ourselves or others?
Because of my hurtful past, I am now sensitive to how people treat one another around me. It breaks my heart when I hear kids or adults laughing and talking badly about someone else’s appearance or abilities. Bullies cut others down to build themselves up. I do it, and I bet you do sometimes too. Jesus was a champion of the underdog. Read the Bible and notice the people that Jesus spent the most time with. Notice those whom He encouraged and those whom he challenged. Wealth and fame did not impress Jesus—humility, faith, and brokenness did.
Jesus was no wimp, friends. He was not afraid of the speaking the truth. He really didn’t give a flying rip about what the rich and powerful thought of Him. Jesus hung out with the outcasts of society. He hung out with the broken and lost people who were not too enamored with themselves to follow Him. He brought strength to the weak and weakened the strong. Jesus wept with the hurting and got in the faces of the proud and arrogant. He fought liars with truth and the arrogant with humility.
So, if Jesus was no wimp, then why do we think that the Christian thing to do is to let people bully and use us? Yes, Jesus said to love our enemies, and not to retaliate with violence when we are abused because of our stand for Jesus. But I personally do not believe that He commanded us to be doormats for the world to wipe their feet upon. I would submit to you, my friends, that it is possible to defend our honor, and the honor of Christ, with love, truth, and courage.
So why are we silent when people are hurting other people or spreading lies? Why do we let our bosses treat us poorly when we don’t deserve it? Why are we afraid of offending people with the truth? Why do we waste our time and energy trying to earn the love and admiration of people who really don’t care about us?
I think that it’s time to stop playing the victim, brothers and sisters. Jesus didn’t call us to follow Him to become wimps. Jesus called us to follow Him to be warriors. The Bible tells us to fight for the cause of the orphan, the widow, and the marginalized. It tells us to fight lies with the truth. Jesus called us to put the righteous cause of serving others ahead of our natural desire to serve ourselves. He called us to build His Kingdom, not build our own. He called us to worship God, not seek the worship of others. He called us to take down bullies and giants, not stand idle while those bullies and giants take advantage of others (see Joshua 1:9, Psalm 82:3, Romans 12:9, 1 Corinthians 16:13, James 1:27)
I love the passion that Mel Gibson brings out in his movies. I can do without much of the violence in his movies, but I love the heart. I’ll leave you with this thought. Watch this short video of Mel Gibson playing the role of William Wallace calling his Scottish countryman to stand up and fight for honor and freedom. I’m not sharing this video with the idea of stirring up violence. I’m sharing it with the idea of stirring up hearts. It’s time to stop acting like wimps, brothers and sisters. It’s time to start acting like warriors for Christ.
Special thanks to Alecia Bonson for helpful edits.