The Bully and the Bible
by Stephen James
When the teacher leaves the classroom, the bully reigns. His court consists of those kids who are willing to compromise their values in order to avoid being his victim. They cheer him on, even as he assails his prey.
His prey is made of those bright and industrious students in whom the instructors take great pleasure, as well as those who are different for more common reasons. Bullies love to persecute anyone who stands out and anyone foolish enough to bring attention to himself by daring to raise his head above the common, the foul, and the mediocre.
Today the bully strikes. The scene is eighth grade shop class, all boys. For some reason, the instructor, who is also the assistant principal, leaves the room. He threatens corporal punishment on anyone found talking when he returns.
Now the bully takes his place of power. He turns around and looks directly at me. "No look somewhere else," I say silently.
"Why do you carry that Bible?" he asks. He is talking about the Gideon New Testament that I carry in my shirt pocket.
"I like to read it," I respond. Then he demands that I let him see it. Reluctantly and silently I hand it over to him.
When he opens it, he notices that many verses have been underlined with a red pen. "Why did you mark all those verses?" he asks.
I respond that these are verses that I want to remember; I want to be able to easily find them.
Then he hands the testament back to me and says, "Read those verses that you underlined."
Suddenly I have a very difficult decision to make. The teacher has very clearly said that we are not to talk and has threatened corporal punishment if we do.
However, somehow I know that if I refuse to do what the bully says, he will make a scene, possibly leaving the impression that I am ashamed or embarrassed to read my Bible. Above all else, I do not want that to happen. So I read. In fact I read several verses. When I sit down, no one says a word, not even the bully. Then, the teacher returns.
There is something different about the other boys after that. Some of them are in my physical education class. Suddenly, boys who used to curse and swear freely in the locker room, stop when I walk by. I am embarrassed, thinking that they stop because of me.
Little do I realize at the time, that it isn't because of me at all. It is because of the Word of God that they stop using foul language. The Word of God is powerful. It pierces the heart and makes us aware of our sin. It annihilates our illusions of acceptability. It puts us in our proper humble place before the Holy God, the God who demands perfect righteousness, a righteousness that can be obtained only through His Son.
But not everyone changes. The bully gets worse and continues to be foul mouthed and malicious. Little does he know how the Lord, who is in control of all things, is using even the bully's malicious acts to glorify himself. Only two years before, all Bible instruction in my school system was stopped, under the threat of a law suit from a local newspaper editor. But on this day, the Bible is read in shop class, by order of the bully.
Someday everyone will glorify God. The redeemed, even now, glorify Him through obedience and faithfulness. But someday the rebelious will glorify Him as well, through the personal experience of divine justice.
In the end, even they will know that it is God who reigns, as they fearfully bow before Him, and as they, all too late, beg for mercy.