I heard a story on the radio the other day that resonated with me:
The radio host and her friend went to a half-marathon to cheer on their other friend, Ruthann, as she ran the race. They had signs with them that said, “GO RUTHANN!” and “WAY TO GO RUTHANN!” and proceeded to meet her at each milepost, shouting cheers and words of encouragement as she went. The radio host said that at one point another runner had passed them and said, “Man, I sure wish I was Ruthann.”
The radio host said it was at that point that it occurred to her: in this life we are all running the same race, trying to accomplish the same goals (yes, they may be different as far as details are concerned but ultimately we are all going after the same thing–what we each deem to be having a successful life), and yet, not everyone has someone to cheer them along the way. Some people have a lot of encouragement in their lives, some people have just one person cheering them along the way and some people have nobody, like the runner who said she wished she were Ruthann.
It occurred to me right after she finished telling the story…what if, just what if someone had been there at the race booing at the people?
Well, that sounds stupid, you say.
There are five types of people in this race we call life:
1- those with lots of encouragers
2- those with just 1 or 2 encouragers
3- those with no encouragers
4- those that not only have no encouragers but have people actually trying to bring them down along the way
5- those with a/some encouragers and some people trying to bring them down
I want to talk about BULLIES. Church bullies.
“Well, I’ve never seen anyone get hit or shoved at church,” you say. (Well, hopefully not!) So where do we see bullies there?
-You see them when someone new comes in to church and the person is ignored or worse, snubbed.
-You see it when someone walks in to the building and people give them dirty looks for dressing differently, looking different, having bad hygiene, etc.
-You see it when no one invites the new teen in church to go to youth group
-You see it when teens in the youth group are being made fun of or excluded from cliques (and if you have cliques in the church that’s the first sign that there’s bullying going on–“us four no more” is the mentality of a dead church)
-You see it when certain kids in Sunday School are never picked for teams
-You see it when a family invites every kid in the church over for a birthday party except for that one kid
-You see it when people get together at church and make plans in front of others but never invite that one or two specific people
So ask yourself: am I a church bully? Do I make people feel less important, awkward or unwanted when they come to my church? Do I reach out to people who come so that they feel wanted and accepted? Am I wanting my church to grow or having an “us four no more” mentality?
Am I acting how Christ would act?
We are all in the same race, trying to live for God and have the best life possible. We, as God’s people, should be the ones cheering not the ones booing. When someone joins the race or desires to join the race are we encouraging them or booing at them?