Bullying and Jesus’ perspective
October 10, 2016. Four miles from our church a teenager had finished school for the day in Haslett. He had faced repeated harassment from his peers, and pressure from many different areas in his life. On Tuesday, he intentionally proceeded to walk on to the railroad tracks, where an oncoming train…
It is still too early to know exactly what was going on, or how long the teen in question dealt with bullying and pressure, but this situation is part of a larger story that still affects many of us today. The CDC estimates that around 42,000 suicides occurred in the year 2014. We could throw out even more numbers and provide a breakdown in demographics, such as men are more likely to commit suicide than women but women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, or that it is the third leading cause of death for ages 15 – 24, or that once every forty seconds someone will commit suicide. Studies also suggest a strong link between bullying and suicide, estimating that bully victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide. But the point is not to imply that once numbers reach a certain threshold, then this becomes a legitimate issue worth discussing. What matters is the fact that there are people in today’s world that are choosing to end their life right now because they have been repeatedly been bullied.
We want to first identify some signs that you can observe to determine whether someone is being bullied. No, it is not as cut and dry as what you would come to expect from movies like Mean Girls or A Christmas Story. No, at times, the signs may be so subtle that it takes a careful watcher to notice something is out of the ordinary.
1 – Greater exposure/mentioning of death. Victims who reach this point start to ponder whether their life has any meaning, and whether things would be different (read, much better) if they were not around. They may not outright say, “Hey, I’ve been more interested in death lately, especially since my self-worth is at a negative balance now,” but they will start bringing such topics in to the conversation.
2 – Becoming more emotionally detached from their surroundings. Not all times can this kind of behavior be attributed to “teenage puberty [insert something that oversimplifies the rocky years 13 – 19].” Giving their things away as if to wrap things up, sadness, depression, or withdrawing from activities indicate that there is a likely chance that something may be wrong.
3 – Showing signs of aggression indicating a tipping point. The victim in this case may engage in self-inflicting wounds, substance abuse, doing crazy things, and even indicating that they can no longer handle the pressure. Unlike many of us who do feel under pressure that is life, this kind of pressure differentiates itself as an ongoing burden that seems to never be relieved and brings their self-esteem down, coupled with the other aforementioned behaviors.
There are many other behaviors that would indicate suicidal tendencies, but you can read up more on that should you so choose. We will provide a link to a paper from the CDC about bullying and suicide right here. But today we want to focus on the bullied ones from a Christian perspective. Psychology tells us today to be nice to all around us, remember we are all human on the inside no matter what our surface is. We do not discount these principles but we consider them as values to be heeded. But the principles to be heeded take on a more enhanced identity within a Christian framework. Consider:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
We have heard this verse many times before, reciting it in church or hearing of it mentioned somewhere at some point in time. Here is the thing. God gave HIS LIFE so we would not have to give ours. He loved you so much that He was willing to endure the death of the cross to save you. That is how much He values you. You were bought with a price. The fact that God Himself, a Being worthy of praise and worship, was willing to leave the comforts of His home and the safety, security, and omnipotence of Heaven to endure struggles, trials, and hardships so that you could have a way up through Jesus reveals that you matter to God. 1 John 3:1 says,
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
The relationship becomes more intimate. Jesus’ death on the cross at first glance may make Him a hero to mankind, but the Bible indicates that there is a more intimate relationship that God wants to have with us. He considers you to be His child. Being His child means you are a part of His family. You know what God’s family does (or should do)? Look out for each other. Value each other. Acknowledge the importance of each and every single member in the body of Jesus. Read 1 Corinthians 12 to get a better understanding of this concept.
Here is what we are trying to say to you today. You matter to God. You may be pressured on all fronts. You may be led to feel irrelevant or insignificant by people in your school, people in your work, or just people in your life. But know this. Jesus died for you because He loves you and He wants to have a close relationship with you now and for all eternity. How many other gods out there would do that for you? Looking at humanity from a satellite would suggest any all powerful being would want to just start over from scratch. But not Jesus. Jesus is a redeemer. He is a restorer. And there is nothing you can do to be separated or isolated from God’s love.
If you want to donate to a scholarship fund set up on behalf of the boy mentioned at the beginning of this post, please click here.