By Jimmy Cochran
The subject of bullying is very prevalent in our media these days, as well it should be. The violence of bullying has continually escalated in the lives of school children, so that schools, bus drivers, parents and neighbors are finally beginning to take a stand against these predators. However, bullying is not always limited to school age children. There are forms of bullying that take place every day in our homes, community politics and in our businesses.
When I was in 5th grade, I was the victim of a bully. I went to Burgess Elementary in East Atlanta and in those days there was no school bus service in the City of Atlanta, so we either walked to school or our parents drove us. All of us in our part of the neighborhood walked together, weather permitting, and always had a good time on the trips back and forth to home. Being a member of the school band, I had to stay later some days and walked home on my own. For some reason, and with my luck, the local bully lived on the street behind me and stayed after school a lot for detention, so at times he was leaving school at the same time as I did and we were walking the same streets.
I was a skinny, nerdy kid with a band instrument, walking home alone. That, plus the fact that Nick was constantly in detention, and with a bad attitude, was all it took for him to decide I was an easy target. The bullying began with taunts and words, but after a couple weeks it led to an encounter between Nick and a couple of his goon friends…and me. Punches began to fall, book bags began to be thrown, blood began to flow and we finally ended it at the creek that separated my path home from his. Later that afternoon, Nick showed up at the back door and said he was supposed to apologize to me. As I recall, we glared for a couple minutes, and then apologized to each other and it was over for the time being. I don’t know if another encounter would have occurred since a few weeks after that, Nick fell down an elevator shaft at his dad’s company and didn’t survive. Tough way to go, but in my small 5th grade mind, I figured it some type of divine retribution.
In the section of the Bible known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us that we will be blessed when people “revile us, and persecute us and say all many of evil things against us, falsely, for His sake. Rejoice and be very glad, for great will be your reward in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:11). This passage directly speaks to the bullying we as Christians may encounter during our daily lives.
Have you ever been made fun of because of your beliefs? Have you ever encountered any type of discrimination because your belief in God and Christ was known? Have you ever just gone along with the crowd because you didn’t want them to know you were a Christian and shouldn’t see that movie/concert/hear that joke? I’ve been there and taken the easy road out far too many times.
I am promised that if I allow myself to be reviled ... persecuted ... talked about ... bullied for the sake of Christ that my reward in heaven will be great. And that I will be blessed here on earth. It takes strength to stand up for our God and our belief in Him, and we will encounter types of bullying when we do so, but God also promises that He will take care of us. And He is a whole lot bigger than any bully.
So for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.
Jimmy Cochran is a resident of McDonough, a musician, a minister and the author of Being God’s and Staying God’s, both available at Amazon.com. Being God’s is also available at Moye’s Pharmacy in McDonough.