Jan 172021 1 Response

When Christians Respond with Contempt and Mockery

Contempt and Mockery. Those are the most common responses when we see something we don’t like or believe is deeply wrong. First, we mock. We write jokes, share memes, and take the situation to the most extreme case which leads to laughter. The mockery leads to contempt. We judge the situation and all involved as being less than us. We see the circumstance as symbolic of all the things we don’t like and everything that is wrong with the world.

This is the natural human response–contempt and mockery. It’s how I react when reading the news, scrolling social media, or watching people make horrific decisions.

Yet is there a circumstance where a follower of Jesus should turn to contempt and mockery? Is this ever the right response?

No.

While they are the natural responses of humanity, they are never the appropriate response from Christians. When a person chooses to follow Jesus, they are also choosing to lay down the natural way we respond to life’s situations. To follow Him means we stop mocking others and feeling contempt for them. (See: Don’t Do Wrong When You’ve Been Wronged)

Unfortunately, many Christians never realize this. While it is one thing to know what we should do and fail (everyone makes mistakes and we all drift back to our old ways of living on occasion), many Christians never consider that these responses are wrong. They never take into account how Jesus would have them respond to national news stories, Facebook trends, or the actions of local people that differ from how they believe the world should operate.

So how should a Christian respond?

In Luke 23, the gospel writer tells the story about the crucifixion of Jesus. As he does, he describes the soldiers saying “they crucified him” and “they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Can you imagine? For a Christian is there anything more opposite of what we believe than crucifying Jesus and then playing games with his clothes? No matter how sacrilegious an action, heretical a teaching, or repulsive an action, nothing could be worse than the actions of these men. Things can equal these actions but they can’t be worse.

So whomever you dislike, anyone you think is evil, and every person who you think stands for the opposite of what Jesus called us to stand for could be symbolized by these men. The absolute worse actions of humanity were displayed that day before Jesus.

And how did he respond?

No mockery. He could have made jokes. It’s hard to tell because of the years that have passed and the language barrier, but Jesus often said things that his crowd probably found funny. He likely enjoyed jokes.

No contempt. While we never have a right to show contempt toward another because of our own failures and frailties, Jesus had every right to do so. Contempt is to look at another as vile or worthless. What better describes the men who crucified Jesus. Yet Jesus did not look at them that way.

Instead, how did he respond? He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Full of grace and mercy, Jesus had compassion even upon those who were killing him. He died even for those who crucified him. While he did not agree with their actions, he still showed compassion. (See: Why We Don’t Like Grace)

This is our model. If you ever wonder how you should respond to others when they do wrong, this is the response. We shouldn’t water down the truth. We don’t pretend their actions are acceptable. Without fear, we speak the truth. Yet we do not use that truth as a way to beat others up. We don’t allow the truth to make us feel better because we’ve made others feel bad. And we do not mock or feel contempt toward other people.

Mockery and contempt are never the go-to responses for Christians. If God has opened your eyes to his grace, you now see the worthlessness of those mindsets. Grace extends even to the worst among us. This is good news, because that means God has extended that grace toward you.

So if mockery and contempt are never the response of a Christian, how should we respond when Christians are mocking others and showing contempt? We point out it is wrong. We invite them toward a different direction in hopes they will choose a better way. But if they don’t, we pray:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

 

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