It is rightly said, Mockery is the result of a poverty of wit. I dare say that the real intention of resorting to mockery is not to disprove the Christian faith. The mocker is often without a rational answer to the Christian apologetic. His mockery is intended more to alleviate a harassed conscience. The mocking laughter has the sound of whistle in the dark.
“Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities,” says Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). This applies very aptly to the Mocker-in-Chief, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. After the much-publicized meetings with Christian leaders – first with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), and then, with the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) – he promised a moratorium, only to break it in subsequent public meetings. As always, he only displays his mediocre knowledge of religion in general, and of the Christian faith in particular.
This leads me to reflect on a particular type of a mocker of religion. This is the person who mocks the Christian faith out of his supposed knowledge of it. He may have been himself a former professor of that faith. Or more usually, he may have spent his childhood years under Christian parentage, until he came to adulthood and chose “freedom” from his religious tutelage. Now he feels qualified to scoff on the faith that he once professed. We can call him a Christian-turned-Mocker.
To mock is to treat with scorn or contempt. The idea of mockery is to make its object a laughingstock. It betrays a deep bitterness that may not be present in ordinary resentment. The Christian faith seems to elicit the most bitterness when it provokes opposition. Christianity, of all religious faiths, is the most vulnerable to the treatment of mockery. After all, Christian advocacy of freedom of religion and speech guarantees that there will be no reprisal against the mocker. Try to mock Islam.
What makes one mock the Christian faith that he once espoused? The most obvious answer is disenchantment. The impression of failure on the part of those he once respected for their Christian faith disillusioned him. Whether the failure is real, or just a misconstruction, a string of the same will create an increasing imprint. It leads to the wrong conflation that the failure of its followers proves the falsehood of the faith. No wonder that it creates a bitterness that is turned into mockery. That such a process of disenchantment is going on should be a sobering reminder for Christians to be mindful of their testimony in the eyes of the world.
But to the disenchanted, I must appeal. Christians do not pretend to be perfect. Indeed, it is a part of our conviction about holy living that we can never attain perfection on this side of glory. We appropriate by faith the redemption of Christ in His atoning work. By that, we are forgiven of our sins – but that is not sinlessness; far from it. Our struggle with sin is real, and perhaps, even more fierce, given the standard we seek to meet – to be like the Lord Jesus. And if you have witnessed such outbreak of sin in our words and ways, it is one of those failures, of which we will have many in this life. But that does not mean the spiritual change is not for real; it is not just anywhere near complete.
Our argument for the Christian faith does not stand on any false claim of perfection on our part. It stands or falls on Jesus of Nazareth who died in time-and-space history, and who rose from the dead alive also in time-and-space history. In the language of the Scripture, “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4). If you will object to the Christian faith, conceive your apologetic against Jesus. It is He Who we claim to be perfect, Himself God, but became Man to redeem sinners – including mockers.
If your way out is by mocking Christians, you prove nothing, for we already admit our flaws and sins. The question confronting you is the same with which Jesus confronted the mockers of His day, “What do you think about the Christ?” (Matthew 22:42).
It is rightly said, Mockery is the result of a poverty of wit. I dare say that the real intention of resorting to mockery is not to disprove the Christian faith. The mocker is often without a rational answer to the Christian apologetic. His mockery is intended more to alleviate a harassed conscience. His mocking laughter has the sound of whistle in the dark.
Mocking the Christian faith, however, has the tragic consequence of being its own punishment. When mocking becomes a habit, it is self-confirming. The mocker will justify his sin. As the Bible warns, “There will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions” (Jude 1:18). That is why a plea such as this one will likely engender only more mockery. So warns biblical wisdom, “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse… Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you” (Prov. 9:7-8). But the worst mocking was endured by Jesus on the Cross. Why not by a poor follower?
If one becomes a Mocker-turned-Christian, it will not be the first time. CS Lewis once called Christianity a “false mythology” and became one of its staunchest defenders. Such is what grace can do even to a mocker.
There is a truth that you can mock but can never overturn. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). If you choose to persist in the lie of your own mockery, I will lament for your soul in this life. But even in eternity, I cannot mock on your mockery turned to wailing!