At my school there has been a big problem, and maybe it’s at your school, too. It’s called bullying. Some people at my school bullied a girl and even created a “hate club” about her. The situation got so bad her parents even took her out of school, and she appeared on national television to talk about her experience. Because of this, my whole school district has been holding more anti-bullying assemblies and campaigns in an effort to try to discourage bullying. These programs can help people learn to treat each other with more respect. However, a spiritual approach is something that isn’t really covered in school, but I believe it’s important to have it in the picture. So I have written this article to contribute a spiritual, prayerful approach.
I’ve realized that probably one of the biggest “bullies” in the Bible’s New Testament is Saul (see Acts 9:1–20). He persecuted and hunted down the followers of Jesus, either killing them or sending them to prison. This all changed when one day, on his way to Damascus, he was surrounded by a light from heaven: “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” (“Kick against the pricks” was old-fashioned farming language, and a way of saying that Saul, like a stubborn ox, had been rebelling against God.)
Saul was then directed to continue on to the city. When he arose, Saul found he was blind and had to be led by the people who were traveling with him. He didn’t drink or eat for three days. A disciple named Ananias went to Saul and restored his sight. Saul then began preaching about the Christ.
I felt good about doing the right thing.
I think it’s inspiring that, because of his one encounter with the Christ, Saul had a complete change of heart and became a follower of Christ. Mary Baker Eddy put it like this: “He learned the wrong that he had done in persecuting Christians, whose religion he had not understood, and in humility he took the new name of Paul. He beheld for the first time the true idea of Love, and learned a lesson in divine Science” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 326).
Bullies may try to harm you, either physically or mentally, because they see something “different” about you, and they feel they must put you down because of it. But it’s good to know that everyone can have a change of heart. You can pray for bullies, that they can “see the light” as Saul did. And that they can go on to do good.
Once when a scribe came up to Jesus and asked him which of the commandments is the greatest, he answered, saying, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30, 31). As stated in the second of these commandments, you must love other people as yourself. Any kind of violence or hate is a violation of this commandment expressed by Jesus.
When I was in seventh grade, my friends and I picked on and teased a boy we thought was a bit different. Just to join in with the group, I started taking part more and more often, until I realized how much we were hurting his feelings. I started thinking about how everyone is created in God’s image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27) and that Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. So I decided to follow those two commands. I knew that none of us would like someone to treat us the way we were treating this boy. It took moral courage to break away from what my friends were doing and apologize to this boy for what I had done. I stopped doing what others thought was fun and began to set a good example by simply leaving him in peace and also being nice to him during class if he needed some help. I felt good about doing the right thing and not the “popular” thing, and it seemed that the boy felt better about himself as well. After a couple of weeks, my friends stopped bullying him, too.
So instead of being tempted to pick on others or putting up with being tormented yourself, you can turn to prayer. Let’s all see the good in everyone because we know God made each and every one of us spiritually perfect and capable of recognizing the good in ourselves and others. If we all do this, and love everyone more, I’m sure we can play a huge part in putting an end to bullying.
Karl Garrett is a freshman in high school and enjoys horseback riding and mountain biking.
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