Summary: Fear is a big part of life. To understand fear and overcome it, we must look to God's Word in the Scriptures.
“Beating Back a Bully”
Your Greatest Fear Series – Message Six
Gages Lake Bible Church
Sunday Evening - July 12th, 2009
Pastor Daniel Darling
The Miriam Webster Dictionary describes a bully as:
2 a: a blustering browbeating person ; especially : one habitually cruel to others who are weaker.
Today a lot of attention is being given to the problem of bullying in our public schools. It’s a problem that is as old as sin itself, but only recently has it arrested the attention of educators, parents, and even government officials. Now there is a new concern, something called cyber-bullying, where bullies use digital means to browbeat people into submission.
My First Bully
I was always a kid who tried to get along with others and so I didn’t incite the wrath of bullies too often. But I do remember one horrific week at summer camp. There were two sets of camps. One camp for younger kids and one for older kids.
I went to the younger kid’s camp, but somehow I managed to be a worker at the older kid’s camp. Well, at this older kid’s camp was a kid that we’ll call “Sam.” Now I had thought Sam was a cool kid and I really, really wanted him to like me. But for some reason he didn’t like me.
I fact, every single chance he had, he would punch me, hard, and for no apparent reason. Now, I’ve done a lot of things in my life that deserved abuse, but not this time. Apparently, he needed an outlet, a punching bag for his anger, and I was the perfect kid to beat up on. Now I don’t want to over dramatize it. He didn’t leave me bloodied. But the punching was rather annoying.
Bullies aren’t just for kids
When you hear the word “bully” you immediately think of the playground, the streets in your neighborhood, the schoolyard. But adult life doesn’t mean we don’t have bullies anymore. In fact, they often grow stronger and exert more influence on us.
A bully could be a boss, who works every day to make your life miserable, who makes your life miserable and makes you feel as if he/or she runs the world.
A bully could be a parent, who oversteps their bounds and tries to make you live the life they think you should live. They withhold love and threaten to ostracize you within the family if you don’t do what they think you should do.
A bully could be a friend who has a strong personality. They know that you’re a “nice guy” or “nice girl” and they try to run your life.
A bully could be a church bully, a religious bully, who beats you over the head with their version of Christianity. Instead of just encouraging you to walk with God, they stifle you with their long list of rules and regulations, commands not found in Scripture, but commands they’ve come up with on their own.
This message, for me, is intensely personal. Recently I have had to deal with a situation in my life involving what I would describe as a bully. I won’t share any details and it isn’t anyone you know or involved in this church or churches you might know.
But it’s been especially hard as this person tries to pressure me to make choices and to live my life the way they think I should live it. God has given me the courage to stand up, but it has been a very gut wrenching experience. So I’m not sharing this message as a series of empty platititudes. It’s intensely personal.
The Bible and Bullying
What does the Bible say about bullying? More importantly, what is our responsibility when it comes to a bully and how do we stand up for ourselves?
There are a lot of places in the Bible we could go, but there is one story in particular that I think sums up this whole idea of fear of bullies and how we should respond.
If you have your Bibles, open them to Acts 5. Acts 5. A little background on this story, if you’re not familiar. This is the incredible launching, not just of the early Church, but of the entire Christian movement.
In the first part of Acts, we had the ascension of Jesus Christ to Heaven. Jesus left them with these words:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth. Acts 1:8 (KJV)
These same men, who fled in fear when Jesus was arrested, who denied him, who went back to their trade—fishing, after the Resurrection. Jesus says, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit, you will turn the world upside down, and the Church will be born.