Last night, I reviewed the movie Bully that we are showing tomorrow night. For me, I think it is one of the most important movies that has come out in a long time. Though, like most important movies, it is not easy at times to watch. Listening to parents of children who killed themselves, to watch bullying happening and seeing the reaction of “Boys will be Boys,” and things like that get your blood boiling, especially when you see the route of the problem.
The relationship between the bully and the victim is many things, but often is one of power. To be a bully an individual has to make a conscious choice that they are entitled to something. Sometimes it is attention, others it is respect, sometimes it is even stuff, but this entitlement places the Bully in the position, because of their status, where they can pass judgment on another person and label them to be weaker or vulnerable to an attack.
In one scene in the movie, we even see where the Bully claims that the child deserves the bullying, and actually, the bullied child begins to relate to the bullying as normal. In fact, at one point, you see the child look to be bullied by “his Friends.” The difficult part of the movie for me was the fact that I knew the emotions and the first time I saw it a groundswell of all those old emotions came running back. It surprised me on two levels; first, how real those emotions were, and, second, how I had learned to cope with them.
About the time of my most intense bullying, we were studying the writings of Paul at church. At the end of Romans 14 and 15 Paul talks about the community of Faith and a problem that the churches were facing, and a problem that the churches will continue to face until the second coming of Christ, and that is Bullying. Well, they did not use that term, but the issue is how we are a community together; how we live to build each other up not how we turn to tear each other down.
15 We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. 3 For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
The problem the early church was having was that the people were living in the human nature to tear someone down in order to gain power. Instead of lifting each other up in love, the early church often found itself creating tests and hurdles; we might call this hazing. Paul gives this example in Romans 14:13-23, whereas the community would give “tests” to other's faithfulness by threatening the kosher law. As Paul lays out, if keeping kosher is integral to the faithfulness of the individual, don’t make them eat something that is not kosher. While the reader and leader know that through Christ, all things are clean, it is not our place to force our practice onto another, which will make them stumble or even fall away from God altogether.
The reality of bullying is that once you step away from school you do not necessarily step away from the bully culture. This is not a new thing but something that goes back to Christ’s time and before. However, as Christians and people of faith, our call and our mission is to look for ways to build each other up. Not to pick at the weakest point but strive to celebrate the strong areas. More than anything, we are called to treat each other with Love and respect, as God treats us.
I hope that you will be able to join us for the movie tonight.
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Ro 15:1–6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen