by Pastor Joshua Pfeiffer
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In the last time there will be scoffers … But you, beloved … look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life (Jude 18a,21b).
Have you heard any scoffing lately? Here’s one definition of what it means to scoff: ‘to speak to someone or about something in a scornfully derisive or mocking way’. I’d say there’s a fair bit of scoffing in our media, politics, and, sadly, perhaps in our church too. There’s also a particular form of scoffing by some non-Christians towards Christians because of their beliefs and lifestyles. It’s that scoffing our text has in mind and how to deal with it.
It’s an old problem, by the way. In the very first of the psalms, we read of the wicked, sinners and scoffers and that the one who is truly blessed doesn’t sit with them. It’s striking that the scoffers sit. In other words, they aren’t going anywhere or doing anything but are the original armchair critics.
In the Jude text, the situation is the early church where there are people intent on unsettling the young Christian congregation for their own ends. A part of what characterises them is their scoffing. In 2 Peter, we hear of these people again and even get a quote. They mock the Christians for believing in Christ’s return because ‘all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation’ (2 Peter 3:4). Sound familiar? Today, Christians may be scoffed at for believing just about any of the truths we confess in the creed or the way we seek to live.
So, how do we respond to the scoffers? Interestingly, in Psalm 1 and Jude, the counsel isn’t to respond to the scoffers at all but to turn our attention away from them and back to God. Jude says you’ve been given the gift of faith, so build yourself up in that. You’ve been given the Holy Spirit, so pray in him. You are loved by God, so keep yourself in that love. You’ve been shown mercy by Jesus – a mercy that leads to eternal life – so set your hope there. Don’t listen to what scoffers say and let that define you, but listen to the voice of the God who made you and loves you and wants what is best for you – and then just don’t sweat the scoffers.
Gracious Father, thank you for showing me such love and mercy and making me your child in holy baptism. Help me not to become consumed by words of mockery and ridicule but instead, by your Spirit, to meditate on what you say. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Joshua is married to Kimberley. Together they have four children. He is a pastor of the Lutheran Church of Australia and previously served at St Paul’s, Nundah, in Queensland, and Bethlehem, Adelaide, in South Australia. Currently, he is pursuing doctoral studies at Concordia Seminary St Louis, USA, and enjoying the adventure. He posts videos on a YouTube channel called Kairos (www.youtube.com/JoshuaPfeiffer).