Posted by Dean Paulson

This past week in the NFL Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans and Cortland Finnegan of the Tennessee Titans got into an altercation on the field.  In the end Andre Johnson threw a couple of punches and both were ejected from the game.  Both were fined $25,000.  Here is what is interesting to me.  Johnson is known to be one of the classier players in the league and Finnegan one of the dirtiest.  The over 600 players in the NFL voted on the dirtiest players in the league and Finnegan was chosen number 6 and then commented that he wanted to be known as the dirtiest.  As an old football player who has been on the receiving end of cheap shots I know they can be dangerous.  The play that instigated this was a cheap shot to the face by Finnegan.  One report even said that Finnegan looked towards the Texans bench (the play was on that side) before the play and said “watch this” and proceeds to smack Johnson in the face up under his facemask.  Then Johnson responded by throwing punches.

I am not condoning what Johnson did but it should be noted that he was very contrite and apologized for his actions Finnegan believed that he had done nothing wrong (he also ripped off Johnson helmet and Johnson ripped of his). 

The question I really want to wrestle with is as a follower of Jesus Christ how do we respond to bullies.  The world is full of them.  Not all are violent.  You can be a bully and not violent.  You can bully with slander and gossip, and with control and power.  You can bully with time, money, words and attitude.  You can even cyber bully. Bullies can be loud or quite, young or old, male or female, right or wrong, liberal or conservative.  And yes, you can even bully with a smile on your face and what seems like a positive attitude.   You find bullies at work, in school, in neighborhoods, in politics and places of business.  I even encountered a bully one time hunting in the woods.  It is little more intense when you are both standing there with riffles. Fortunately I have an ability to de-escalate situations.:)  Sadly, though we find bullies even in the church and among God’s people.

Jesus dealt all the time with religious leaders who were bullies.  The difference is that we tend to let the bullies have their way because we don’t want to stand up to them and deal with uncomfortable confrontation.  We do this because we feel by appeasing them we will keep the peace.

Jesus would have none of that.  He calls the religious bullies white washed tombs and a brood of vipers. Remember they were present when he said these things.  In fact he said it right to them; he called them these things to their face.

In John chapter 8 the religious bullies brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery.  Jesus stood up to the religious bullies.  And as bullies often do when someone stands up to them they quietly went on their way, tails between their legs.  Why did Jesus stand up to bullies?  Bullies hurt people.  They hurt their families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and actually anyone they come in contact with.  And they hurt the church and the children of God. 

I am not saying the Andre Johnson responded correctly.  He even felt that it was not the right way to stand up to a bully.  Yet in a world, and dare I even say a church (universal church) with bullies, those who are followers of Christ need to resist and confront those who bully others to do their will.  Why?  Bullies hurt people and that ought not to be accepted among the people of God.