Mockery

mockeryOne of the lessons 2016 has driven home to me is that, of all possible forms of humor, mockery is the one I appreciate least. Unfortunately (in my opinion) mockery remains popular across a wide spectrum of people seeking a way to belittle others for anything from physical disabilities to differing views on religion or politics.

I do understand the temptation to mock. Mocking can make the mocker feel smug, intelligent, and witty at the expense of his target. Mocking provides a verbal way to shoot at someone we don’t like without the danger of getting arrested. So in a sense, mocking brings the mocker a reward, particularly if the mockery succeeds in inciting others to join in the jeering and finger-pointing. And I’m sure I’ve mocked before, but I hope in the Lord to have outgrown this particular form of humor.

As a follower of Christ, I do find many incidents of mocking in the Bible. A few include:

– Job was mocked in the midst of his calamity and depression (Job 21:3; 30:9).

– God’s messengers, the prophets were mocked by ungodly listeners (2 Chronicles 36:16).

– Local civic leaders mocked Nehemiah and his followers when they were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:19).

– David was mocked by his enemies, people who resented God’s hand of blessing on the young man (Psalm 35:15-16).

– Soldiers mocked Jesus with words, but added their spittle, slaps, whip lashing, and a crown of thorns (Matthew 26:67-68).

– The Jewish king, Herod, joined in mocking Jesus (Luke 23:11)

– The apostles were mocked by a crowd, who accused them of being drunk early in the morning (Acts 2:13).

That’s only a quick sampling. Many more Bible verses speak of mocking, and they provide food for meditation. But the truth that strikes me over and over is that the mockery in the Bible generally comes from people with whom I wouldn’t care to associate. In contrast, Jesus certainly pointed out sin, and He didn’t hesitate to tell people when they misapplied the Scriptures. Jesus definitely got angry when He drove out those money-changers who turned the temple created for worshiping God into a place for buying and selling animals to sacrifice. (Even without divine power, Jesus was definitely no weakling!) But did Jesus ever put on goofy faces to mock Herod or faraway Caesar to the cackling of His followers? Did He draw slapstick caricatures of the sinners who refused to heed His teachings? I’m not finding it.

I won’t dictate what others should or shouldn’t do with mockery. But if I have to make a choice, I’d rather be mocked than stand among the ranks of mockers. If someday I slip from this goal, somebody please give me a kick in the backside and remind that I’m not being the kind of person I aspire to be!

2 thoughts on “Mockery

  1. Yeah, Rick, I would tend to agree. But there is a place for critical humor, as long as it doesn’t fall into mockery and ridicule. I think for example of Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal, in which he says to the prophets of Baal, after they have spent hours trying to call fire down from the sky: “Perhaps Baal stepped out to use the bathroom.” (This is what the Hebrew literally says!) Or Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees about their hypocrisy regarding the law: “You strain out a gnat [one of the smallest of unclean animals] and swallow a camel [one of the largest of unclean animals].” Did Elijah and Jesus mock the prophets of Baal and the Pharisees? Certainly they used sarcasm and hyperbole, but they did it from a moral high ground, and they did not make a personal attack. Mockery and ridicule tends to disparage its victims for who they are, not for actions they have done.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Dave. I’m not sure to what degree Elijah’s comments were inspired (if at all at that point) or whether he was at liberty to express himself according to his own personality at that point. But I am so glad Jesus does not mock me, even when I really goof up. The Lord has chastised me and used various hardships to get my attention, but He’s never mocked me or abandoned me for my foolishness or immaturity. For that I am grateful!

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