The Bully In Us
Bullying at any level, in any setting, by anyone is wrong. We are guilty of this in our own way at times, especially when we are defending a position we believe to be correct. We can stop bullying by first stopping the bully in us. How? By treating others better than ourselves even when we disagree (Philippians 2:3) and showing people what the Bible calls “a more excellent way”, the way of love (1 Corinthians 12-13).
Having a conviction (such as, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life) is important. We all need to be convinced of what we value. That’s what a conviction is. But there is a difference between living out that conviction (ex: because Jesus is the way, I will seek Him no matter what), and bullying people who do not hold the same conviction (example: I will hurt you because you don’t believe in Jesus).
When we belittle the opinions of others, especially the differences on our most cherished beliefs, when we put undue pressure on others to think like we do, see what we see, and believe what we believe, and when we hurt, diminish, or exclude others because of what we believe to be an inferior or “wrong” position, we are guilty of bullying.
I myself was repenting on intellectual bullying while reading more on the topic. Just because we know more, or think we know more more (which isn’t always true anyway), doesn’t mean we can condescend, be sarcastic, or belittle.
Just because we belong to a “cooler” group does not mean we are better. Many times, from my observation, it simply means we are willing to kiss ass more and has little to do with how right or wrong we really are.
Just because we have more money, or have friends with more money, doesn’t mean we can “own” or “afford” people. Being richer affords us more things, but it doesn’t make us better, and it does not make us intrinsically more valuable.
Just because we feel we are more spiritual, doesn’t mean we can act that way too. Religious bullying contradicts our professed spirituality and faith. Just because we believe we are more moral, doesn’t mean we can respond in uncontrolled anger, pride, and impulse.
“Even when we’re right?”, we ask. Yes, especially when we’re right. Because if we are truly right, then why are we ruining what’s right by communicating it in a way that’s wrong? If we say, “So that people will get it.”
My answer to that is: Is the wrong way of getting a message across the right thing?
We know that the answer is no. People in business know that the medium of communication or the media is also critical. Without the right medium, the message won’t be heard. If someone stood on a soap box with a megaphone and shouted at you to buy Mercedes Benz would you buy it? Most probably not. If you saw a beautifully-shined car, in a beautiful showroom, with respectable people patiently explaining the intricate beauties of the car, would you buy it? Most probably, yes – if you can afford it, and if you choose to.
I’ll write more about my visit to the Mercedes Benz showroom, but my point is simple: Let’s not ruin the message with the wrong medium.
God gave people choice. Hard-selling, bullying, is the worst way to influence our generation nor the next generations. We hate it when someone hard-sells products to us, what makes us think others enjoy it when we shove our beliefs on them? They don’t.
There are two main reasons I realized why I needed to humble myself and write this:
1. I don’t know it all. I don’t even know most of what can be known. And because I don’t know it all, who am I to condescend? Who am I to oppress those who believe otherwise? And let’s say I truly know the way of loving God and loving others, which is the faith I profess, am I truly motivated by love if my methodology fails the 1 Corinthians 13 filter?
No. It is a contradiction.
I’ve been reading a book called Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, articles by Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, Augustin, Aquinas, Timothy Keller, Peter Kreefe, John Piper, and even looking into their historical context and personal life, and it’s been such a fascinating journey. It highlighted how much I don’t know on God, on what I believed the Bible to be about and how wrong my interpretation was on certain topics.
It showed me the importance of humility in true learning and growth, spiritual and intellectual humility, to be open to God correcting my way and my paradigm, and not to be like the leaders who were once at the forefront of amazing discovery, who then rested on the belief that all there is to know about a topic has been exhausted, stopped growing, and became part of the mass of oppressors.
How do we know if we’re part of the oppressors? Simple, is someone oppressed because of our words and actions? If yes. We’re an oppressor. Oppressors never discover anything new. They merely make it hard for the discoverer, not realizing that in the process the discovery is refined.
2. The more important motivation to remind us of the example of Christ.
Despite man’s incessant and ill-fated attempts to control and box His greatness and Lordship in a set of behaviours and actions, it continues to shake the hearts, minds, and institutions that are not standing on Christ-crucified. Even the historically wisest men of Christianity did not agree on every single interpretation, neither will we. Yet, here we agree on, Christ died for us because He loved us.
While we may have different interpretations on His teachings, we are clear on His motivation: love and His actions: the fruit of love.
To be a Christian means to live a life that follows what Jesus did. Jesus lived what the apostle Paul would later call a more excellent way: the way of patience, kindness, of not envying, of not boasting, of humility, of honoring others, of putting others first, of not being easily angered, and of forgiveness. It is the way of protecting others, especially the vulnerable such as the poor, the very sick, the widows, the oppressed. It is the way of hope and perseverance.
It is the way of love.
And it is the way of choice. What do I mean? That’s another article.
Conclusion: I am so grateful to Jesus for His love. That despite the infinite disparity between His greatness and my shortcomings, He did not choose to condescend and condemn, but chose to love, and because of that love, die for me. If Jesus, who is justified to punish us, chose to love us, who are we to punish those different from us?