Have you ever been bullied by someone?
When I was in middle school, there was a kid who for a couple of weeks just seemed to have it out for me. I always saw him in the principal’s office or being chastised by a teacher for his disruptive behavior. Today I would probably ascertain that he came from a chaotic home and have sympathy for him, but back then I was just scared and thought he was a jerk.
I never once said anything to this kid. We weren’t friends and I didn’t know why we were suddenly enemies. All I knew was that if I happen to catch his eye, he’d respond with something threatening and intimidating.
I was a scrawny kid who walked funny, I had no business picking a fight with anyone and so my strategy was always to flee or find a nearby adult. One day this kid cornered me. I was on my way to class when I was stopped dead in my tracks by my bully. I don’t remember exactly what he said to me, but I knew he was picking a fight.
As the bully inched closer into my personal space I began to grow more nervous. I didn’t see a way out. There was a wall to my left, making it even more difficult to get past him. I looked around, but didn’t see an adult for what felt like miles as everything narrowed in. Finally, just before things became physical, someone stepped in.
A good friend of mine, a short but feisty kid, stood between me and my accuser, convincing him to leave me alone. I felt such relief in that moment. I finally felt like the bully was taught a lesson, like he knew there was no touching me because I had a protector. I can’t tell you how cool I felt in that moment, how important.
I was driving to work this week when suddenly this random scene from my past came to mind. I now work in the city that I grew up in and only just a couple of miles from the middle school where this all took place. As I pondered this moment, I couldn’t help but think of the analogy it provided for my modern-day bullies.
As an adult, my bullies are health problems, bills, taxes, and things just going wrong. My Christian faith tells me that all of my problems are the result of one big bully; sin and living an imperfect world. The bible reminds us that our adversary roams around like a lion seeking whom to devour. We have a bully that finds us in every corner. (1 Peter 5:8)
Thankfully, we also have a friend.
In no other religion do the followers describe themselves as being a friend of God. There is a unique personal quality about Christianity. (John 15:15) We have a friend in Jesus, who by his substitutionary atonement on the cross, stopped our bully in his tracks so that we could get on with enjoying life and one day enjoy eternal life.
My friend wasn’t the victim, but he chose to take that place in order to protect me. “Hey, pick on me instead…” he said. In the same way, Jesus became sin even though he knew no sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21) It wasn’t just that he stood up to the bully, He took on our role and accomplished something we couldn’t. I was helpless standing up to my bully and we were all helpless standing up to the bully of sin.
Thank God for a good friend.