“…scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’” [2 Peter 3:3-4]
They are here.
It is stated by the Apostle Peter in his second epistle that scoffers will come in the last days. I’m not sure if it means they will only come in the last days, for it seems they have always been around. In fact, their targets are not strictly followers of Christ. Sometimes they aim their derision at quarterbacks, government officials and family members.
To be clear, sometimes they are us.
Don’t we all scoff? For sure, and sometimes those of us who claim to possess the Spirit of God will direct it at others who claim the same. It’s an ugly process, not unlike a flesh-eating virus endeavoring to consume its host.
James agrees in his book, stating that “out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
But what of those outside of the body of Christ, those who claim to disbelieve in either His prior or present existence, or those who say He lived, but deny His deity. Such people easily look down on those who have invested a great deal of their money, time and talents to a being that can’t be seen or proven scientifically to exist.
Christian, we cannot change the way these people feel and the way they deliver their arguments. Isn’t it right for us to expect rotten fruit of a life not controlled by the Spirit of God.
But what is our excuse?
Without fail in newspaper editorials, on social media platforms and in political talk forums, we engage those scoffers using the same fire to fight the heat that they bring.
Now, to be sure, there is a time to unapologetically state that which needs to be said. For example, in an apartment fire, I expect to hear a warning yelled loudly and without regard to how gently it is delivered.
Jesus directed a good deal of scoffing at the Pharisees and teachers of the law back in his time, saying at one point, “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”
Now that’s not very nice.
But when did niceness become the highest ethic? Most of us speak favorably of those who are “nice”, as though that was to be our goal. Surely, it is honorable to be good and gentle, but sometimes people near to hear important messages with a nonverbal urgency that matches the importance of the content.
But the motive is key.
Generally, when we engage in arguments with those outside of and within the body, our efforts tend towards a fleshly desire to simply “win the argument”. Even initial well-intentioned efforts can quickly suffer corruption as our pride often gets injured in the battle and we fight back using the same weapons as our earthly combatants.
In standup comedy, it is important to know how to deal with hecklers, those who enter an event simply to place the focus onto themselves. It is sometimes necessary to properly address a heckler if he or she gets out of hand.
Oftentimes, though, the best advice is to leave them alone, ignoring them, and hoping their strident discourse dies a natural death.
Are we willing to lose an argument to win a soul? I’ve heard it said once regarding professional sports that sometimes the best trades are the ones that you don’t make. Similarly, I suggest that sometimes your best involvement in an argument is your absence from it.
When tempted to engage a scoffer, take a moment, a deep breath, and ask yourself what your end game is. What do you hope to get out of this? Is it reasonably attainable?
In most cases, it is not. You will likely keep busy involving yourself verbally in an exchange as productive as punching a wall repeatedly in anger. It is nearly impossible to convince someone of something if they have already determined to have made up their mind.
Have you forgotten the power of prayer? I have. If our hearts are really in the right place, we will stop and use the unsettling feeling we have to take these matters up with the Lord, and not with those that offend us. Surely, sometimes we will need to go to them, but not nearly as often as we do.
And, if that time comes, we should approach them in a Spirit of humility, not looking to deliver the last blow.
- 2011, Chris Quimby