When Your Faith is a Punchline – Nevermind

I don’t like being laughed at, do you?

It’s one of our greatest fears and dislikes, to be the object of ridicule and mockery. It puts us back on the playground, feeling shame, fearing exclusion, desperately wanting to be like everyone else, safely standing with the crowd and not exposed, surrounded by mockers.

“Everybody’s laughing at me,” is a sorrowful cry from a child running home to Mama, a failed CEO huddled beneath her covers, or a disgraced politician avoiding the late-night monologues now built around his latest gaffe.

Laughter, like all things good, is a gift from God. He invented humor and aren’t we glad? Satan, with no creative powers of his own, enjoys twisting for his own purposes those things God made. God imbued laughter with the power to heal, to relieve stress, to build community, and to express and spread joy. Satan annexed it to shame, to frighten, to crush, to control, and to destroy. It can be an effective weapon against God’s people but, like all weapons formed against us, it won’t stand.

Growing up a Christian, there were times when my peers ridiculed my beliefs but it’s not something I heard adults mocking. That isn’t true any longer. I see and hear those truths I hold dear mocked over the airwaves, in memes on social media, by talk show hosts, in casual conversation in the lunchroom at work, and by the political elite. While modern media execs fall all over themselves working to include every other individual in society, they have no hesitation making my faith a punchline.

It feels like a new phenomenon but it isn’t.

God’s people have been the subject of ridicule since the days of Noah. People laughed at Jesus and in His last days, He was mocked, scorned, and hung up to die. If He was subjected to laughter, so will any who follow Him.

How we respond to the laughter will testify to the character of Jesus Christ.

mocking aIn times of war, the enemy employs every tactic to play on their opponent’s vulnerabilities. They may flood the airwaves with ridicule, laughter, and mockery to make soldiers feel small, to erode their confidence and their sense of mission and purpose. They will declare victories where none exist, so as to discourage with propaganda. Even a veteran fighter has to work to defend against a steady assault of mind games. Sometimes it’s easier to face a gun than a crowd refusing to take you seriously.

One response that is certainly a mistake is to take the bait. There’s no worse way to respond to a crowd of bullies than to stamp one’s foot, cry, and yell back “Hey guys, stop being mean. I mean it. Stop it. That’s not funny. Stop laughing at me, or I’ll tell.” All that energy is better channeled into work assigned by God and God doesn’t spend a lot of energy worrying about who likes Him.

For me, I take my answer from a single word uttered by the renowned SNL social commentator, Emily Litella, one of my generations’ supreme funny ladies. “Nevermind.”

That’s right. When people laugh at our faith, when they mock and ridicule, when talk show hosts belittle our dearest truths, well, nevermind.

God has warned us this would happen. If we know Him and His Word, we aren’t caught off guard by this assault.

If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet. Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright.” Proverbs 29:9-10

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19

So, nevermind. Be about your own business, which is loving even those who laugh at you. Be about the business of becoming more like Jesus every day. Be about the work of being salt and light. When they laugh at you, imagine they’ve inhaled the enemy’s noxious laughing gas and so are operating under the influence of a great delusion. Thank them, even, for the opportunity to learn to love under duress. Tell them you are of the Order of the Holy Nevermind.

Because you are not deceived. You walk in truth. You are free. Refuse to come under the oppression of the same delusion. The enemy declares victory where there is none simply to discourage you. The enemy fills your ears with laughter to make you feel small and insignificant. You aren’t. He wouldn’t employ his weapons against you if you posed no threat. So, when you hear them mock us, nevermind.

God promises that He will one day have the last laugh. “The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.” Psalm 37:12-13 Those who mock and jeer, those people are God’s business so set yourself to the work He’s given you and as for their laughter, nevermind.

When we would complain to my great-grandmother that others were picking on us, she waved our complaints away like bothersome gnats saying, “Don’t you pay them no nevermind.”

Yes, the world laughs at the greatest truths of eternity. Yes, the world mocks the One we love, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Yes, the world ridicules our beliefs and refuses to take us seriously. Yes, we are the only ones it’s okay to laugh and scorn on television and movies these days. But consider this: at some point, Noah had to tune out those who didn’t understand and simply focus on the work. He knew, by faith, the floods would come. We know, by faith, Jesus will return.

So, love ones, you pay them no nevermind. The laughter is an attempt at distraction but we see through it. Our eyes are on Jesus and our ears are tuned, not to their laughter, but to His voice. A voice we’ll hear forever, long after the mocking laughter has died.

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