by Tom Wacaster
Webster’s On Line Dictionary defines mockery thus: “behavior or speech that makes fun of someone or something in a hurtful way : mocking behavior or speech.” Unfortunately, when men find themselves on the wrong side of an argument, or when the evidence implicates someone who has obviously committed a wrongdoing, rather than “fess up” (as one country fellow used to put it), they mock those who oppose them. I had a debate more than a decade ago with a denominational preacher who refused to bow to the word of God. His arguments were weak; the Scriptures overpowering. Rather than admit his error, he began to mock the very idea that sins were forgiven at the point of baptism. In one of his negative speeches he mocked me and God’s word: “Mr. Wacaster believes that salvation is in the water. That you meet Jesus in a tub of water. Pull the plug and, ‘swoosh,’ Jesus goes down the drain!” When I stood to respond I warned him, “Before you mock a doctrine you should first determine if it is the truth. If baptism is for remission of sins, as I affirm, then you are mocking God; you are ridiculing a divine ordinance.”
Jude had this to say concerning mockers: “In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts. These are they who make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 18). Peter weighed in thus: “knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God” (2 Pet. 3:3-5). In both cases it is evident that those who did the mocking were in rebellion against God; and in both cases inspiration says they will face the judgment for their ridicule of God.
Through the years the Lord’s church has received more than its share of ridicule. In the early days of the restoration movement those who opposed the effort would call us “Campbellites.” That mockery would extend into successive generations of New Testament Christians. Some years back I wrote a series of articles in the local paper on the subject of baptism. A local denominational preacher attempted to answer. But as is often the case, his answer was not an appeal to the Bible, but to emotion. His attacks were against the “man,” void of any Scripture, sound reasoning, or simple logic. He called my position on baptism a “doctrine right out of the pits of hell.” No doubt many of us have been the recipients of those funny little jokes that tell of members of the church of Christ who, at a latter time have finally arrived in heaven and are living off in some little corner by themselves, while those who pass by do so quietly because we think we are “the only ones in heaven.” All such efforts fall under the category of mockery. They may arouse the emotions but they do not address the issues. The mockery of Tobiah and Sanballat did not seek to question the authority of Nehemiah, the vision he had, or the determination to build. Why is it that so many religious “errorists” [if there is such a word] think they establish their case by ridiculing the truth? Atheists, evolutionists, humanists, and the immoral gay community may ridicule, but their mockery is but a weak response to truth.
This is not to say that ridicule is not effective, nor is it always wrong. When one is on the side of truth and has established his case, an occasional mockery may be effective. Take the case of Elijah when he mocked the prophets of Baal. After every attempt was made on the part of the idol worshippers to have Baal answer their cries, Elijah “mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked” (1 Kings 18:27). One of the most effective preachers and debaters of the past century was G.K. Wallace. He could use mockery effectively, but only because he was on the side of truth, and he “answered a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 25:5). In his debate with Ray Vaughn, brother Wallace was addressing Vaughn’s misunderstanding of the use of a dictionary. He first asked Vaughn and his moderator, “Do you fellows know the difference between a history and a dictionary?” When they did not answer, brother Wallace responded: “Some of you boys in the fifth reader get him off tomorrow and tell him the difference between a history and a dictionary.”
While ridicule may intimidate the weak, the faithful will not be moved by mockery. To be shaken by the mockery of our enemies will prove disastrous. Peter was moved by the mockery of those about the campfire and he ended up denying his Lord. Israel listened to the mockery of the ten spies who said, “We are like grasshoppers in their sight,” and it cost them 40 years of wandering in the desert. If we are moved by mockery it will be because we love this world more than our Father in heaven. If we are moved by mockery fear will invade our hearts and ridicule will rule our action. The key to overcoming cowardice in the face of mockery is to die to self.
The following item will serve as a fitting close to these thoughts:
DYING TO SELF
When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ, that is dying to self.
When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence, that is dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality [sic], or any annoyance; when you stand face-to-face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility -- and endure it as Jesus endured, that is dying to self.
When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any society, any raiment, any interruption by the will of God, that is dying to self.
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendations, when you can truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self.
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances, that is dying to self.
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, that is dying to self.