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The Bully

The Bully

I am among you as the one who serves. Luke 22:27

As I was meditating on today’s passage yesterday, I had a painful memory pop up. I was probably in fifth or sixth grade when, with a bunch of my peers, I attempted to elevate my own status by verbally bullying a younger boy. It shames me to write it and I remember feeling ashamed as soon as the words left my lips. Why would I do that? That’s not me. I knew bullies and I hated how they acted. I was immature enough to succumb to the temptation to bully another for my own benefit, but I was also just mature enough to realize that, in that moment, I’d become the thing I despised.

Why do some of us bully others? The causes and motives, I’m sure, are complex, but bullying usually is about one individual’s desire to dominate another. Bullying is about an expression of power that provides some reward to the one in power. The bully, dominates for a reason – he has something to gain at the expense of the one bullied.

In today’s passage, Jesus’ disciples wrestled with their own nature to lord power over one another. In the story, the disciples argued like school kids over who was the greatest. It sounds ridiculous, but there they were, with Christ listening, trying to establish dominance over each other.

Jesus told them that this was the way of the world . . . but not his way. He said even though it was their nature to attempt to seek authority over each other, they must abandon this temptation. Jesus commanded them not to pursue affirmation through power, but to find their purpose and meaning in the kingdom of God through humility. Instead of being served, like Christ, they were to choose to do the serving.

It’s our nature to desire to be served, not to be the server. Following our own nature though, leads us away from God. If we desire faith, authentic life, and recovery, we must follow Christ in serving others. This doesn’t mean we cannot ever lead. Christ led by his example of service. It just means that we must continually examine our motives. Am I doing this because I like to be in charge, or am I doing this to truly help others? In seeking power, I dwell in a kingdom of me. In serving others, I dwell in the kingdom of heaven.

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