Among the less notable things that have increased over the past 30 or 40 years in our society is the mocking and bullying of people who believe in the Lord.
The above'Youtube' episode show a campus street preacher confronted with a young man who dresses like hitler and begins to imitate what he feels is the 'style' of street preaching. The young man, quite obviously not a Christian, is cutting and cruel and far from 'teasing' is outright decrying the preacher for exercising his free speech rights. If it had occurred to an Islamic preacher, or to Hari Krishnas, or to a Rabbi explaining Judaism, no doubt the student might have been held on hate crime charges and possibly even expelled. Christians, though, it seems are first to be mocked, cruelly imitated and bullied with the rest of society looking on, muttering something about how they probably deserved it.
TV shows regularly mock Christians and Christ. SNL became well known for the 'church lady' many years ago, which was fairly funny because she really was like a lot of unsaved church ladies, and other shows like the Colbert Report and the one with that other fellow whose name I can't remember make cruel fun of belief in Jesus all the time. Recently a few have taken to ridiculing healing, and the gift of prophecy, and movies galore make mincemeat of Bible stories relegating belief in the Word of God to foolish superstition.
Street preachers, God love them they are often on the front line, get ridiculed on a regular basis, only some of the mocking and ridicule has turned violent. I don't agree with all the methods street preachers use: some are very condemnatory and rather than preach about Jesus and Salvation, focus very message on going to hell, sending every one that walks buy there with a bullhorn. I am not one of the lighthearted who believe hell should not be preached, I believe it should and even in public, but the job of the preacher is to lift up the Savior so that he can draw all men unto him, because as he notes,
"John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. "
Whether I would preach their way or not though is immaterial: while we may occasionally foster some extra mocking by being unkind, the kindest, gentlest most loving preacher in the world, or minister or missionary, or Sunday school teacher or any believer, are finding themselves prey to sometimes even tortuous mocking and bullying in an effort to shut down preaching and teaching about the love of Jesus Christ.
The Youtube video above is not a singular example. There are dozens of clips of street preachers being arrested for very little trangressions if any at all, having rocks or bottles thrown at them, bikes and motorbikes run at them, or in one clip I saw, two young bikini clad college students on spring break ran up and posed sexually in front of the preacher. He went right on preaching. Even now, writing at a wee hour of the morning, what I write is constantly 'attended' ---I was a college professor who stopped teaching Psychology to follow Christ---you cannot imagine,nor could have I, the psychotic abuse that has been attendant on that choice, much less on any preaching , teaching or writing that I have done. "Well, you wouldn't, like really, stand up out in public and preach would you?" "Would you tell them where you got your degree?" Yea, maybe. So what? I've seen what the mockers do in their private lives and out in public: drunkenness, lewdness, perversions, beliefs in the occult, homosexuality,etc, yet if I mocked or even pointed out their lifestyles, I'd probably be charged with a hate crime.
Now, I'll be frank. I don't care for big yeller and black pasteboards that say 'yer dyin and goin' to hell' even though I believe its true. I was in the world for the first 30 years of my 55 years, and when I heard that kind of rhetoric, even if true, I didn't fear hell or not being saved, I, well, I MOCKED it. The public doesn't see hell as eternal anguish,suffering and degeneration, as the nemesis for unbelief---the general public sees hell as a joke with costumed devils who they think like to do 'sin' stuff. How many times have we all heard about how some dear fellow wants to go to hell because all of his friends will be there? C.S. Lewis once noted in the Screwtape Letters that the embodiment of all evil, the Devil, or whatever name one chooses [the Adversary, Satan, Abaddon, etc] appreciates the amelioration of Hell: he intends to gather what he can. There can be things as Christians we do, annoying little peccadilloes which make people want to mock us, but the kind of mocking I am referring to, is a form of hatred and violent railing against the whole idea of God, and against the love of God.
Mocking Since the Beginning of Time
We can't really as believers expect that we will not be mocked. The first incident I can think of in the Bible is of Balaam accusing his donkey of mocking him, or when Delilah accuses Samson. Elijah at one point is confronted by mocking boys:
2Ki 2:23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
and one must be made aware, that the mocking of the Prophet brought out bears which mauled the poor fellows. Elijah has his own turn at mocking the prophets of Ba-al:
1Ki 18:27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he [is] a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, [or] peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.Hezekiah's posts are mocked when they travel throughout Israel declaring a return to the observation of Passover. Sanballat mocks the Jews who are trying to rebuild Jerusalem as though it was a hopeless task:
Neh 4:1 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
The worst mocking of all comes at various times in the Gospel [e.g. 'can anything good come out of Nazareth?] as the crowds and Pharisees at various times mocked Jesus, and the culmination of the worst mocking comes on the way to the Cross and on the Cross:
Mat 27:29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put [it] upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
Mat 27:31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify [him].
but that mocking had been predicted:
Luk 18:32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
and the mocking at the cross was the worst: they fed him Gall, a vinegar type wine in jest, he wore a crown of thorns, and even above his head the sign though declaring the glory of God was a mocking one:
Luk 23:38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
He really was the King of the Jews then as now, but Pilate meant it as a cruel remark to the Jews [see your king?]
Later, belief in the resurrection was mocked and so was the idea that God could come in the form of a man and then rise from the dead, as Paul speaks at Aeropagus on Mars Hill:
Act 17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this [matter].
Even the thief next to Jesus on the Cross mocked him, as had Herod asking him in dying breath for a display of his power.
All that said, it is imminently clear we cannot escape that no matter how loving and kind we might try to be, the reaction of many in an increasing cruel world is to mock true belief. They cannot see, they are blind, and to them, as Corinthians notes, it seems foolishness because it requires divine understanding and not merely limited human reasoning.
Reacting to Mocking
The great task for all of us then, becomes whether preaching the Gospel in a pulpit or the open air, or merely having a Bible in a drawer at work, or even for no reason at all, the task is to confront mocking not with railing and mocking back (I am particularly good at that), but with Holy Spirit control, and a little Holy Spirit 'strategy'. There are a few loving ways that can defuse at least some mocking:
1. Turn the mocking into self-teasing, e.g. 'O---the lady really does carry a big black bible, yes I do, but I don't thump I study and this is what I've found..." or "You mean you don't like my big yellow sign with the big red letters telling you that you are a sinner?---maybe I should have said...fill in the blank".
2. Diffuse anger: when people hear the Gospel preached they are afraid of being criticized, condemned and having to toe a line they don't feel they can reach: they are not hearing the Word of God nor the Love of God: they are hearing some guy with a loudspeaker telling them they are no ----good. At least many are mocking that. Humor, righteous humor can go a long way to diffuse anger so can 'a soft answer'. Ask God for a way to meet anger.
3. Realize it is a spiritual war: Remember all the teaching about the armor of God? The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God: that's your weapon. I have found when people get out of hand, or argue false doctrine, the thing that works is that sword! Not an argument or debate. I don't know HOW it works, I know THAT it works. Someone wants to argue 'soul sleep'? Respond, "It is given unto man once to die and then the judgment". It is the Word that heals, convicts, corrects,and teaches.
4. Some mocking requires interpersonal skills, not psychologically oriented but biblically: learn biblically how to deal with demonic people: missionaries on many fields have had to. You can take authority over the powers that are not of God. You may though merely need to reflect back the anger and mocking, by outwardly asking the mocker, "Why do you think this is funny?" It engages a conversation, and when they find out you care for them and are a kind-hearted sort of guy or gal, you may find them opening up, and receiving the Word. Or even confront: "You mean you don't love Jesus? Why? "Do you think hard-hearted people who claim they believe, were for real? It at least carries the conversation out of the mocking realm.
5. BE KIND. Have an extra pepsi? Offer it to mocker. Ask his or her name. etc.etc.
6. Some people will not be diffused in their anger or mocking. Lately, preachers are getting more and more abuse, many undeservedly. The Lord did not promise you a rose garden, but a Gethsemane. You will be mocked. Some will be beat up. Some will have vile substances thrown at them, or bottles, or rocks. Count it all joy and don't give up. Once when Paul was beat up with in an inch of his life, he dusted himself off and went back into the city that beat him up, and stayed one more night before moving on. [Look it up] Some of what I have experienced overwhelmed me: why would people hate great love? They do though, they hate it with a passion. They are blinded and you have to see them that way. They will break bones in this world, trample old women, put rodents in your house or on your person, beat with sticks or even hammers, break backs, throw scalding water, cut your hair, disfigure your face, and pour caustic substances down your throat. Tyndale before being burned at the stake had been poisoned and persecuted: the apostles died the cruelest deaths imaginable: but they could see Heaven from where they stood.
7. Fight the battle divinely. This has already been mentioned, but one can use the Word to fight, prayer to fight, [never go out in public preaching without praying mightily for God's protection, guidance and anointing;], and remember to plead the blood of Jesus, or affirm His blood covenant, and that God inhabits the praises of His people. When all else fails, start praising God. I have never seen it fail.
The more you obey, the less the mocking and violence affects you. Its not that you relish physical harm, or cruel taunts, in fact the taunts can be more demoralizing than physical injuries which heal. The closer you get though to accomplishing God's Will for your life, the closer to Him, the more you will understand and tolerate the weaknesses of others and the need to let God render justice. Above all, stay daily and often in the Word of God. It is the Word of Life. And thank God for being accounted worthy to suffer for His Name's Sake.
In His healing Name, E.K.Best