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Bullying has been a problem since the beginning of time. These days, most schools have a zero tolerance policy against bullying, and they are doing what they can to eliminate it. But bullying still exists. The Bullying prevention in schools document from the Public Saftey Canada website agrees that “not all interventions, despite their good intentions, have been effective in reducing bullying activities in school. Research has shown that narrowly focused programs directed solely at bullies or their victims; situation deterrents (e.g., increasing supervision in bullying hot spots); and zero tolerance policies including school expulsion have limited effectiveness and may actually increase or exacerbate the problem”. A solution that punishes the bully will only cause the bully to feel victimized and will create more anger and a desire for vengeance, which can cause the bullying to escalate. Any solution that requires intervention from a third party will be limited in its success unless every child has a bodyguard with them at all times in all places. So what is a person to do?

Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 5:43-48. He said to love your enemies. Don’t react to them the same way they treated you, which is what you do by fighting back. Don’t allow them to change your character from what you know it should be. If you fight back, you put yourself on the same level as the bully. By not reacting in anger or fear, you set an example for the bully to follow instead.

This is the approach taken by bullying expert Brooks Gibbs, an author and speaker, who speaks to audiences all over North America. His premise is that love is stronger than hate. He will tell you that this strategy works, because he used it himself when he was bullied in high school. As long as it is just words, and not physical harm, we should just let what the bullies say roll off our backs. We can choose not to be hurt by their words. If we don’t react, then we won’t give them the attention that they are seeking, and soon they will move on to bother someone else. If we could all learn to just let it go, bullies would see that there is no pay-off from their actions. Instead of zero tolerance policies against bullying, Gibbs would advocate teaching our children how to deal with them. He says, “Bullying is an opportunity to teach children resilience, and we should not try to rescue them from that, but teach them how to handle it and not allow it to affect them emotionally.” If you are a parent or educator you can find strategies at his website to help you do just that.

Bullying doesn’t end when we graduate high school; it will just take on other forms. There will always be someone who will not like you, who will criticize you, or who will try to make themselves look better by putting you down. If you get married, someone in your spouse’s family will think that you’re not good enough. If you have a position of authority in your company, you will have to make decisions that will not please everyone. If you do anything of consequence with your life, someone will disagree with it. If we learn how to deal with bullies when we are young, we will have already gained the skills we need to deal with these issues as an adult. Jesus knew that we would face these issues, and He provided the solution. The next time you face a bully, try it Jesus’ way, and trust Him to protect you from harm. (Romans 12:19)


When you think of peer pressure, do you think of what children or teenagers go through at school? They often encounter pressure to do things that under normal circumstances they would never consider doing. Or how about a college student away at school being pressured to take a drink or drugs so that they can make some new friends? Those are the kinds of pressure that come to mind for me when I hear the term, but peers can pressure people to do good things too—to participate in team sports so you can have fun (even if you hate team sports), to be part of a group that is helping others, or even just a group for social reasons.

Today, I want to discuss a kind of peer pressure that has been on my mind for quite some time. If you are in the habit of forwarding e-mails, or sharing Facebook posts, you may have encountered this as well. Very often at the end of a touching or inspiring e-mail, the recipient will be told to forward it, and remember that if you are ashamed of Jesus and His words, He will be ashamed of you too. (Luke 9:26, Mark 8:38) What purpose does saying this have? Only to make the recipient feel guilty or afraid and pressured to forward the e-mail on. Is that really necessary? Is it that important to share the e-mail. If the message is inspiring enough it would get shared anyway; I often get the same ones from multiple sources.

In Luke 9:23-25 Jesus told His followers that in order to follow Him they would have to take up their cross daily. They would have to put Jesus ahead of themselves in everything they did. (Philippians 2:8-11) They would have to serve God, not money. (Luke 16:13) They would have to love their neighbours as themselves. (Matthew 19:19) They would have to pray continuously with thanksgiving. (I Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 4:6-7) They would have to endure suffering with grace, and wisdom. (II Timothy 2:3, I Peter 2:19-20, II Timothy 4:5, Hebrews 10:32-36) They would have to rely on His strength. (II Corinthians 12:9) Jesus’ followers then needed to be willing to proclaim Christ in the face of physical persecution and even death, and that is still true for many Christians around the world today. There are many more important ways that we can proclaim Him that don’t require sending unwanted, guilt-inducing e-mails to our friends.

I am constantly amazed at the love that God has for us. You may feel love from your family or friends, but nothing on this earth compares to how much your Heavenly Father loves you. Of course, there will be some of you who don’t feel that from anyone, and so it will be even harder for you to fathom, but I hope that today’s verses will help.

In Luke 15:3-7 Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep, which is actually just the first part of the three part parable told in Luke 15. It was in response to an accusation from the Pharisees and experts in the law who were accusing Jesus of socializing with “sinners” (Luke 15:1-2), something that just wasn’t done by upstanding Jewish men. Talk about bullying. You can’t associate with her because she’s from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s not cool enough; what are you talking to him for? To be honest, it was more like he is not noble enough so he is not worthy of your attention, but it made me think of a schoolyard bully. Jesus, however, gave His attention to the most despised of society, and He called the Pharisees hypocrites. (Matthew 23:13) In reality, the Pharisees were just as lost as the rest of the “sinners”, but they were in denial, and refused to see their need for Jesus.

The shepherd in the parable believes that one sheep out of a hundred, one per cent of the flock, is worth searching for. What did he have to go through to find that sheep? Did he have to cross streams, climb rocky crags, crawl through thick brush? When he finds the sheep, it is obviously too weak or tired or hurt or confused to find its way home on its own. He picks it up and carries it home on his shoulders. Was one sheep out of a hundred worth that effort? Yes. Jesus feels that way about us. Every one of us is worth enough that Jesus gave up His life for us. His search for us took Him to the cross. There is no greater love than that.