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Craig Smith - Mockery

Craig Smith - Mockery
TOPICS: Toxic, Power of Words, Mockery

Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills on this very historic weekend. For the first time ever, we are gathered as a church in three different ways. First off, this is the first weekend in about six months that both the En Español and the Littleton campuses are open for in-person services. There we go, yeah. We’re a little light. We can’t allow everybody in that we’d like to, which means that those of you who managed to get a seat, you’ve got to be, like extra, extra, extra loud, okay? Okay? That’s not going to work. Here we go. That’s what you’re going to have to do, okay. That’s one way we’re gathered. By the way, if you were able to grab a seat, that’s awesome. We’re so glad that you’re with us today. You know, we are capped at 175 per service right now. We had our four regular services, those filled up immediately Monday morning, really early. We opened two additional services. We’re doing six per weekend. Those filled up all by lunchtime.

So here’s the thing. There’s a whole lot of people who weren’t able to get a seat for this weekend and we would love for them to have a chance. So I’m going to ask you guys to do me a favor. If you were able to get a seat this weekend, maybe this next week, maybe don’t be at your computer at 10:00 a.m. when the reservations open for next week. Maybe wait till the evening or the next day to give people a chance, who didn’t… We had this great email from a woman who said that she and her family found Mission Hills during the pandemic. They’ve never set foot in any of our buildings. They weren’t able to get a seat for this weekend but she’s so excited to come to her church for the first time ever. And, like, we would love for that woman to have a space. So, I’m not saying don’t reserve a seat. I’m just saying, maybe wait until Monday night or Tuesday to see if there are seats. That way, so maybe some people can get in that wouldn’t otherwise. So that’s one way we’re gathering.

We’re also gathering, of course, online. Probably thousands and thousands of you are joining us online. Most weekends, we actually see people join us from all 50 of the states. The number one state outside of Colorado where people join us from is Texas. It’s like 100 households in Texas that join us every weekend. So just a special shout out, if you’re joining us from Texas, we’re so glad that you’re with us. We usually have about 20-plus countries that join us. The number one country outside the United States for joining us every weekend is the Netherlands.

I don’t know what’s going on in the Netherlands, but if you’re joining us from the Netherlands, that is awesome. We’re so happy to have you. And, hey, we would love it if you’d identify yourself to your online host, or maybe shoot us an email, let us know. We’d love to be praying for you by name. So we have people joining us online. And then we have, maybe, people joining us through Mission Hills watch parties. Maybe they’re with their life group, or they’re with their Bible study, or they just grabbed some people from the neighborhood and they’re doing, like, church in their homes. And that’s awesome. We’re so excited to have you with us.

No matter how it is that you’re joining us, we’re just really glad to have you with us. If this is your first time, we were actually finishing up a series called Toxic where we have been taking a look at what the Book of Proverbs has to say about four kinds of toxic talk that we’re all pretty tempted to engage in. And now I’m just going to be honest with you, the most frustrating thing for me during the pandemic has not been the masks. I don’t like them but that’s not the most frustrating thing. The most frustrating thing has not been the quarantine. It has not been the lack of toilet paper.

I will say it’s close as, actually, the lack of caffeine-free Coke. I don’t understand why the coronavirus has affected my caffeine-free Coke. If you’re from Coke out there, if you could just do something about that, that’d be awesome. But that’s not my biggest frustration, okay. That’s a minor one. Honestly, my biggest frustration throughout this whole thing has been, it’s been the way that the followers of Jesus have so often chosen to talk to and about other people. That’s not only been frustrating, in some ways it’s been really discouraging, and it’s actually caused some anger on me because, you know, we’re called to go with grace. And that has not always been the case during this and that bothers me quite a bit.

I think it’s appropriate, as we close out this series on toxic talk, that we look again at the words of James, the half-brother of Jesus. James chapter 3, verse 5, he wrote this. He said, “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

Do you think this is a guy who heard some toxic talk in his life? Maybe? “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures are being tamed, and they have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse human beings who’ve been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” Can I get an amen?

It shouldn’t be, but it is. And this pandemic has made it clear that the followers of Jesus are not exempt from using the tongue not only to praise God but also to curse other human beings. Now, so far in this series, we’ve taken a look at gossip. We’ve taken a look at slander. And we’ve talked about flattery. Today we’re going to dig into the toxic talk of mockery. And some of you are going to be really upset that you came, right, because you’re like, “Wait a second, but I have the gift of mockery. Like, I’m really, really good at it. Is it really a problem?”

Now, first off, let me just be really clear. I’m not talking about, you know, taking potshots at people that you love, okay? I don’t know why, but for some reason, guys in particular, seem…like mockery is our love language. It’s how we express how much we love each other, right? We just, like, rip each other apart. I’m not sure that’s a great idea because I think it might prime the pump for this other kind of mockery I’m talking about. But I’m not talking about that kind of thing. I’m not talking about how we deal with people we love.

Here’s the kind of mockery I’m talking about. Mockery is, it’s making fun of someone that you disagree with, okay? It’s making fun of someone that you disagree with. And God has some pretty, honestly, alarming things to say about mockery. In fact, let’s start in the Book of Psalms. In fact, the very beginning of the Book of Psalms, you’re going to turn there with me, Psalms 1:1 begins this way. “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked, or stand in the way that sinners take, or sit in the company of mockers.”

That’s an intimidating statement. You have three lines there. All three lines are parallel to each other. They’re saying a very similar thing in three slightly different ways. And when you put that together, what it means is that God is calling mockery a wicked sin, right? God calls mockery a wicked sin. And that’s, kind of, an alarming thing for those of us who realize that we might have a little bit of a problem with mockery, and I know that I do. I know. I know I do. But God calls it a wicked sin. No, not just a sin, right, but a wicked sin. Which is like double intimidating, isn’t it? Like, I don’t want to be sinning, but I definitely don’t want to be involved in wicked sinning, yet that’s what he calls mockery.

Now, why is that? I think one of the reasons that God calls mockery such a wicked sin is because mockery spreads disrespect. Mockery spreads disrespect. It doesn’t just spread disagreement. Okay, it’s okay to disagree with people. We can and we should disagree with people. We’re called to recognize truth, and call out falsehood, and convey truth. Okay, that’s going to require some disagreement. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone. The problem is that mockery doesn’t just spread disagreement, mockery spreads disrespect.

It spreads a way of thinking about another human being that’s not consistent with what the Bible teaches us, that every human being is made as God’s image. They’re made in God’s likeness. And when we disrespect them, we’re disrespecting their Creator. But mockery not only treats other people with disrespect, it spreads that because we’re getting other people to think as little of that person as we do. We’re getting other people to laugh with us. In other words, we’re cutting down that person. We’re disrespecting them. Not only ourselves, we’re getting other people to disrespect them as well, and that’s a problem.

Proverbs, which is where we’re going to spend most of our time today, Proverbs chapter 19, verse 29 says this. “Penalties are prepared for mockers and beatings for the backs of fools.” Penalties are prepared for mockers. God has penalties in mind for those who make mockery a regular part of their speech. Not only does that reinforce the reality of how God feels about mockery, but it also makes an interesting comparison. It says, “Penalties are prepared for mockers and beatings for the backs of fools,” which means that God is, kind of, associating mockery with foolishness. He’s associating mockers with fools which is, kind of, an interesting thing.

Now, why is that? Well, first off, I think it’s because fools prefer mockery over the much harder work of intellectual debate. Fools prefer mockery. It’s the weapon of choice for foolish people because, honestly, disagreeing with somebody and coming up with good arguments, and bringing evidence to bear, and working through things logically, that’s way harder than just making fun of them. It’s way harder than just finding something that you can laugh at about them and get other people to laugh at them, too, and therefore dismiss them without having done the hard work of actually dealing with the intellectual disagreements that are going on.

It’s much easier to ridicule somebody than it is to refute them, right? So that’s the reason, I think, that God associates mockery with foolishness, because it’s the number one choice of fools. But, second, I think this is so important for us to understand, is that permitting mockery actually prevents wisdom. Permitting mockery, whether it’s in our home, in our church, in our country, it actually prevents wisdom. And the same thing is true in our individual lives as well. Permitting mockery prevents wisdom from growing. It keeps it from happening.

We’re going to explain why in just a moment but let me say this because this is the good news. If you flip that around, here’s the great news, is that when we remove mockery from our lives, what we’ll find is that wisdom grows in its place. Anybody here feel like you’d like to be just a little bit more wise than you are right now? Can I get an amen real loud?

Yeah, here’s the great news. If you want wisdom, I’m going to tell you a little bit today about how to get it. Because when we remove mockery from our lives, wisdom is actually what takes its place. Check this out, this is Proverbs chapter 1, verse 22. “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways, and how long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?” It’s very interesting there, okay?

First off, there’s a clear association, again, between mockery and fools, but he also calls them simple here. And simple, the Greek word or the Hebrew word there, “pethi,” is often translated as fool, but it literally means something like a person with a limited view. A fool, a simple one is a one that has a limited view. Like, I’m seeing real things. Everything in front of me is real. It’s not that I’m seeing things falsely, but I’ve got a very limited view of what’s in front of me. I can’t see things off to the side. I’m not getting the whole picture. And that is the biblical concept of a fool. It’s one who sees with a limited vision, okay?

They’re not aware of the whole scope of things. They’re not aware of the complexity of various situations. And, honestly, they’re not really interested in that, right, because what does it say? It doesn’t just say that they are simple, that they lack knowledge. It also says that they hate knowledge, right? It’s not just that they don’t have knowledge because they have a limited perspective. It says that they hate knowledge. They’re not actually interested in knowledge. They don’t listen to people to find out things. They don’t listen to people to learn things. They don’t listen to people to be challenged in their thinking, and grow, and mature. They listen to people… Well, why do mockers listen to people? To find things to mock, right?

Here’s a way to think about it. The reality is that mockers aren’t looking for information, okay? They hate information. They’re looking for things to mock. They don’t want to acknowledge that there’s complex situations going on. And the reason is this, is that complexity challenges certainty. Complexity challenges certainty. As soon as we acknowledge that things are complex, we can no longer be so certain in our opinions and our beliefs that we can be free to dismiss everybody as just being a stupid idiot. Complexity challenges certainty.

And where is the fun in that? It’s way more fun to just look at those stupid idiots out there. What a bunch of morons. How dumb do you have to be to believe that, right? That’s way more fun. It’s no fun to acknowledge that the situation that our church is facing in our culture right now is complex. And how do we navigate that in a way that gives glory to God and expresses faith, but also builds bridges and allows us to move forward if we continue to pursue spreading the Gospel around the world? To acknowledge that that’s complex isn’t nearly as much fun. It’s not any fun to acknowledge that, you know, the social injustice situations are complex.

It’s not any fun to acknowledge that the school situation, as parents are trying to figure out, “What do I do? Am I gonna send my kids back to school or not? And they’re going to do half days. They’re going to do online only and that’s like…” It’s no fun to acknowledge that that’s complex. It’s much more fun to be certain, and therefore to condemn everybody who doesn’t share our particular view, right? That’s so much more fun. And that’s why I think mockers hate knowledge.

Here is an important truth. The wise acknowledge complexity and talk carefully. You hear me, church? The wise acknowledge complexity and they talk carefully, but mockers ignore complexity and talk carelessly. Now, understand. I’m not saying that you can’t have confidence. I’m not saying that you can’t be fairly certain about things. I think we’re called to understand truth. I think we’re called to be confident and bold in proclaiming that truth. I’m not saying you can’t have that, but I’m saying that mockers don’t acknowledge that there is complexity, and therefore they speak carelessly, and they do damage with their words, whereas wise people acknowledge complexity and speak carefully. They might still have opinions. They might have very well-formed opinions. They might have very strong opinions. But they’re still careful in the way that they speak because they’re acknowledging complexity.

Proverbs 14:6 says this. It says, “The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.” I love that. “The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none.” By the way, if you want to, you can add quotation marks around the words “seeks wisdom,” because God’s actually being sarcastic there. Did you know that God is sarcastic? He is the best at it, actually. And there’s a sarcasm going on there. He says, “Mockers seek wisdom.” Because the point is, they don’t actually seek wisdom. They claim that they’re seeking wisdom, but as we said earlier, they’re not listening to gain wisdom. They’re listening to find something that they can mock.

Here’s a way I tend to think about it. Mockers look for ammo rather than info. Mockers listen to people, especially people they disagree with, trying to find ammo that they can use against those people, ammo that they can use to mock those people rather than information. Rather than looking to be challenged, or to grow, or to understand, mockers seek ammo, not info. But look at the other side of that Proverb. It says, “The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.” Knowledge comes easily to the discerning, and I love that. So the mockers out there claim, “Oh, I’m just looking for wisdom.” No, you’re not. You’re looking for ammunition. But then there’s this wise person who just, they just keep getting information. They just keep getting knowledge. They just keep getting wisdom, and it’s happening easily because they’re discerning.

Now, I don’t know what you think when you hear the word discerning. I have this idea because I’ve encountered it over and over again, that for an awful lot of Christians, the word discernment means the ability to detect what’s false. That if you’re discerning, you have the ability to recognize what’s false. And that is an element of it, but it’s interesting, that’s really not the biblical definition of discernment. It’s not the ability to detect what’s false.

Several years ago, I was talking to a guy, he was critiquing a sermon that he had heard. And he was just telling me everything that was wrong about it and then he, kind of, stopped and he said, “Yeah, I’m sorry. I just have a very well-developed BS detector.” BS, by the way, is bull spit, okay? He said, “I’m just really good at detecting all that garbage.” And I was like, “Oh, okay.” And then afterwards, I thought about it and I was like, “You know what happens if you have a really, really well-developed, a super sensitive BS detector? You know what you end up with? You’ve identified a whole lot of BS. How helpful is that?”

I mean, think about this. There’s two miners, right? Two guys go into the mine and they’re looking for gold, and one guy is really good at detecting pyrite, fool’s gold, right? So he’s like, “Hey, look, pyrite. Found some right here. False gold, no value there. Oh, here’s another one, more pyrite, more false gold. Oh, here’s a bunch of more. Look, look, there’s pyrite there and false gold there. It’s everywhere.” And the other guy is like, “Yeah, pyrite. Gold.” Which one of those guys do you want to be? The guy who walks out having identified a whole bunch of stuff that’s not gold or the guy who is walking out with a big old gold nugget? I don’t know about you but I want gold. I want wisdom.

And it says, “Knowledge comes easily to the discerning because,” check this out, this is Proverbs 18:15, “the heart of the discerning acquires knowledge for the ears of the wise seek it out.” You see, it’s a focus thing. It’s a focus thing. The reason that knowledge comes easily to the discerning is because the discerning are looking for what is right. They’re looking to seize whatever is right even when they’re listening to people that they ultimately disagree with on many, many issues. But their focus is, “What can I seize that’s right rather than what’s wrong?”

In other words, biblical discernment, listen to me, biblical discernment is more about seizing what’s right than about spotting what’s wrong. Now, of course, there’s an element of being able to spot what’s wrong, of course. You don’t want to be taken in by what’s false, so there is an element of it. But as you go through the Bible and you look up this word discernment, over and over again you’re going to see that it’s really more about, “I’m focusing on what it is that I can learn, what it is that I can grow from, what it is that I can be challenged by, what it is that’s going to help me to understand the circumstance.” And that you need to think that way even when you’re listening to people that you disagree with in very significant ways, right?

Mockers look for ammo, not info, but the discerning look for info, not ammo. So listen to me. If you want to be wise, stop looking for ammo and start looking for info. You’ll be stunned at how much you can grow and mature even as you’re listening to people that you disagree with in very, very significant ways.

The problem is, that requires humility. Listening to someone that you disagree with in fundamental ways in order to maybe understand, maybe even learn, maybe possibly, even grow in some way, that requires humility. And humility and mockery, they’re like oil and water. This is Proverbs 21:24. “The proud and arrogant person, mocker is his name, behaves with insolent fury.” God has a nickname for prideful, arrogant people. Mocker. Mockery is actually evidence of arrogance. And the reality is, if like me, it’s really easy to mock people you disagree with, if you’re really good at it, the reality is, we have to wake up and realize that our mockery is actually evidence of arrogance. That’s what God says.

And he says this, this is 22:10. It says, “Drive out the mocker and out goes strife. Quarrels and insults are ended.” Drive out the mocker. Get rid of mockery and strife goes away. Insults and injury cease to be. Now, I don’t know about you, but as I look at our country, I really feel like, you know, strife is nonexistent, right? Don’t you? I mean, as I look at the state of our culture or state of the world, I just feel like… I mean, honestly, there’s about as much peace as we can handle. Am I the only one who feels that way? Yeah? Do you think it’s any wonder that in a culture that is filled with strife, because that’s the truth, right, in a culture that is filled with strife, that is filled with quarrels and with evil, we also find an incredible propensity towards mocking people that we disagree with? Do you think it’s a coincidence? I don’t. What does he say? Drive out the mocker, get rid of mockery and out goes strife. Quarrels and insults are ended.

Listen, here’s the thing. It’s election season, which means that if ever there is a season where mockery is on full display, it’s right now. If ever there’s a season when it is easy to engage in mockery without even realizing you’re doing it, it is right now. And it’s interesting, some of you right now, you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, “I’m so glad he’s addressing this because the Democrats really, really need to hear this. All the way they’re mocking the President. They’re mocking the… It’s got to stop. I really wish all the Democrats could hear this.” And some of you are thinking, “I really, really wish all the Republicans could hear this.”

Listen to me. I’m not speaking to the Republicans. I’m not speaking to the Democrats. I don’t care about the conservatives, and I don’t care about the liberals, and I don’t care about the… I’m not speaking into those people. I’m speaking to the followers of Jesus. And if that’s not the first thing that defines you, that’s the first thing you need to deal with. I’m speaking to the followers of Jesus, and what I’m doing is I’m calling all of us to a higher standard on the way that we talk about and to other people, and especially other people that we disagree with.

And please don’t misunderstand me I am not saying there’s no room for disagreement. A healthy democracy, any healthy government is based upon healthy debate. We’ve got to work hard to get to the best ideas. We have to. But as the followers of Jesus, we have to demonstrate a higher standard when it comes to the ways that we talk about and to other people, and especially those that we disagree with.

And, honestly, what better way to practice spreading peace instead of poison than to refuse to mock those that we disagree with. How do we do it? Three things. Number one, just recognize it. That’s the first step. Just recognize it. Hopefully this message has helped you, kind of, zoom in a little bit on what mockery is. If this might help, this is, sometimes, the way that I think about it, mockery talks about a parody like it’s a portrait. Mockery talks about a parody like it’s a portrait. It takes some features, something they’ve said, something they’ve done, something they believe that we think is silly or we think is absurd, and maybe it honestly is, and then we fixate on that. We focus on that. We spread that until it becomes the defining characteristic of that person in the way that we talk about them or in the way that other people hear us talking about them.

And that’s a parody, right? All parody is based on truth. There’s some element of it, right? Like, I don’t know, if you go into, like, those fun-house places where they’ve got those really big curvy mirrors. And, like, you go in there and your stomach is, like… Like, quarantine has made my stomach feel like…right? But the thing is, like, the mirror didn’t invent the stomach. It just blew it out of proportion, right? And it makes it look like that’s how I look but it’s not really. That’s a parody, okay? But the problem is that in mockery, we take a parody or we create a parody of somebody, and then we talk about them as though that parody was a portrait, a real accurate presentation of the whole person or the complex person made as the image of God, made in the likeness of God.

But we talk about them as though the parody we’re a portrait. So here’s a really important question I think you need to ask. If what I’m saying about a person is all that somebody else has to go on, so this person doesn’t know the person you’re talking about, what you’re saying about this person is all that they have to go on, if what I’m saying about a person is all someone else has to go on, would they be getting a parody or would they be getting a portrait? That’s a really important question.

Number two, we just refuse to participate. That’s step two. We just refuse to participate. We don’t do it. We drive it out of ourselves and we refuse to play along when others do it, right? And that means that we don’t laugh when other people do it. Because mockery, it depends upon buy-in. It depends upon people laughing at the person that we’re mocking. And if you just don’t laugh, they’re going to be much more reluctant to mock. And, by the way, when I say laugh, I’m not just talking about the, “Ha, ha, ha.” I’m also talking about the smiley face, thumbs up, share.

If you encounter people mocking others online, and by the way, has anybody ever encountered mockery on Facebook? Don’t hit the like button. Don’t hit the share button. Don’t play along. Don’t participate in it. You really want to do something challenging this week? Do a mockery review of your social media activity for the past month. You know, like, “Oh, no.” Like, look at your posts. Not just your posts, look at the things you’ve liked. Look at the things that you’ve forwarded. Look at the things that you’ve promoted or that you’ve commented on and joined in and see how much mockery is there.

Number three, reset your search. Reset your search. Because, remember, mockery prevents wisdom. Permitting mockery prevents wisdom, but the flip side of it is that when we remove mockery from our lives, we find that wisdom grows in its place because we’ve changed our search. We’ve changed what it is that we’re looking for. Because, let me tell you, the number one thing, the most important thing that ever happened in my life to develop me as a communicator, probably the most pivotal moment in my development as a preacher, it wasn’t a seminary class. It wasn’t a Bible class that I took. It wasn’t a book that I studied. It wasn’t a coach that I had speaking into my life. It wasn’t just a whole bunch of experienced preaching.

All those things helped, but the number one, hands down, the number one thing that I credit my development as a preacher, too, was a conversation that I had with God several years ago. Because I had a bad habit of mockery. I would listen to other preachers, and especially, and I’m ashamed to admit it but it’s absolutely true and I’m just going to be honest with you, I would listen to preachers that I had significant disagreements with, like, theologically, we were on a different page. There’s just stuff about them. Like, were not on the same page but they were always popular. They always had a big following. They always had large churches. They always had a lot of influence. And I would listen to those people and I would just shred their messages.

Like, “That Biblical interpretation, that’s not what that passage is saying. That…no that’s a terrible application. That’s not the best way to…you should have said that…” I would just shred them apart. And then one day, this doesn’t happen to me very often, but one day God came and he spoke to me in the midst of that. And he, kind of, slapped me upside the head and he said, “Hey, how about instead of listening for everything they get wrong, how about if you started listening to figure out why it is that they connect with people so well? How about if you started listening to figure out why it is that they have so much influence? Because then,” God said, “maybe, just maybe, if you learn how to communicate better, you’ll be able to take your perfect theology, and your perfect biblical interpretation…”

Did I tell you God can be sarcastic? He is the best at it. “And maybe you’ll be able to communicate that better.” That was pivotal. I mean, in shame I confessed the sin of mockery, and I began to try to reset my search, and I began to listen to messages. And I still do it today, actually. Some of the most important things that I’ve learned about communicating effectively have come from people that, theologically, I just flat don’t agree with most of what they have to say. But I’m not focusing so much on all the things that I don’t agree with. I’m looking for that… Oh, that’s interesting. I hadn’t actually thought that about that verse, but I do think that’s right, and that’s challenging to me. And, oh, wow, it’s interesting the way you connected that to your audience. Boy, I need to learn how to do that a little bit better.

Understand, I’m not saying you just take it all in. That’s not discernment. But I reset my search and I started listening, maybe even especially when I really disagree with somebody, I started listening for gold. I started listening for wisdom. I started listening for growth. I started listening for learning. And I’m not going to tell you that I do it perfectly. I find myself slipping back into the sin of mockery far more often than I’d like to admit. But I have discovered the truth that when we remove mockery from our lives, wisdom begins to grow in its place. And so here is the question I want to ask you. Are you willing to start looking for info rather than ammo, especially for the people you disagree with? That’s your question for yourself. “Am I willing to start looking for info rather than ammo, especially in the people that I disagree with?” Would you pray with me?

God, on behalf of your people, I just want to confess. I know in my own life, mockery has been far too evident and I ask for your forgiveness. We all ask for your forgiveness, Lord. And we ask, Holy Spirit, that you’d come and you’d root out the pride and the arrogance that gives rise to it. You’d root out the unwillingness to confront the complexity of situations that might challenge our certainty and that would cause us to speak more carefully. Lord, where we have mocked people made in your image and in your likeness, when we’ve treated a parody of them like a portrait, we ask for your forgiveness. And we’re grateful that when we confess our sins, you’re faithful and you’re just to forgive us, and we are wiped clean. And so we start with a new slate today as we go back out into the world where there is strife, and there is envy, and there is quarreling, and there is division. And, Lord, let us go out of here with a new lease on the way that our speech can either promote division or spread peace.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, would you just begin praying right now for all those people listening to this who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. And if that’s you, I would just like to speak to you for a moment. If you would say you’re not a follower of Jesus, I’m so glad that you’re hearing this. And, by the way, if one of the reasons that you’ve never said yes to following Jesus is because you’ve heard Christians mocking people, and maybe in our speech you have heard what really feels like a lack of love from people who proclaim that we know the greatest love, if that’s ever contributed to your hesitation to say yes to Jesus, I’m so sorry. And I would ask for your forgiveness for us as well.

We’re not perfect, but we are forgiven. Our sins are not held against us eternally, and every wrong thing you’ve done doesn’t have to be held against you either because God loves you. In spite of the fact that we have not always loved so well, the God that we preach, he loves you deeply, passionately. He loves you so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus. And, Jesus died on the cross. He died listening to people mock him. But what he said was, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

As they mocked him, he loved them. He loved you. He died on the cross willingly to pay for your sins. With his blood, he purchased forgiveness. Three days later, he rose from the dead. And having risen from the dead, he is offering you, right now, forgiveness of every wrong you’ve ever done, of every sin you’ve ever committed. He is offering you freedom from darkness and from death. He is offering you eternal life in God’s presence. And you can take hold of all of that simply by receiving the gift that he gives.

And if you’ve never done that but there’s something stirring in your heart right now that says that it’s time, here’s how you do it. Just repeat after me. Just have this conversation with God in your heart. You’re just going to say this. You’re going to say:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. I believe that you rose from the dead, and I understand that you’re offering me forgiveness, new life, eternal life, just for following you, Jesus, for giving my life to you. Jesus, I’m ready. I’m saying yes to you. I’m going to follow you from now and forever. Amen.

Are you Human?:*