Friday, August 19, 2022

Grace frees us from being our own bully

by CAROL SHIRK KNAPP Contributing Writer
| August 3, 2022 1:00 AM

I was listening to a contemporary Christian radio station I like — Shine 104.9 — when I heard an announcer say something that was a verbal lightning bolt leaving an imprint in my mind. He said, “Grace frees us from being our own bully.”

Last week I mentioned how in order for our billions of neurons to fire and flourish we need good relationships with others. But what about my relationship with myself. I had to ask, “Am I my own bully?”

Bullying is such a huge blight these days. Words and actions darken the relational sky like a plague of locusts descending — stripping esteem and good will and cooperation down to the nub. Who doesn't long to outrun it.

When it's where I live — my community and family — it's even more invasive. And when I bully myself there's no getting away. Long ago I wrote something about my relationship with Jesus, “He freed me from myself, so that I might rejoice in the very self I would have destroyed apart from Him.”

That's what grace does — the forgiveness and favor and generosity of God He has so lavished on human kind through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ sets me free. Jesus lived a bully free life — even unflinchingly disarming the bullies of His day.

So many times I've denigrated myself — over a habit; something I've said — or someone else has said; what I've done; what I've thought; how I look; how I act; mistakes I've made; regrets I have. All of it is bullying.

The terrible misunderstanding for some is thinking God is a bully. God — as Jesus has explained Him — asks for confession — an entirely different thing from bullying. He seeks that I acknowledge my humanity and all the complications and failings that come with it. His reason for this is to show me my need for a Savior. One He has provided — with an unblemished life I can receive as my own. A life that lifts mine.

Who wants to enter a heaven full of sin. Not me. I don't want all the problems and pain I see and experience on this earth. That's just what it would become without my acknowledging the need for a changed heart — and choosing to live it by the power of God. I'd be bringing the same old ways with me.

So God opened a door. Jesus says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.”

Does this seem too other worldly — narrow — unnecessary — made up. These are honest hesitations. But what if it is true? What if God isn't just some bully trying to make my life guilty and miserable, and keep me from my fun. What if He wants far more for me than I could ever want for myself.

I am God's own. He's given His very life for me — because I am worth that to Him. No bully — not even myself — can keep me from such love.

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