February / March 2019 - Vol. 102.
                                                          guy sneering
Shut Down by a Sneer
by Sam Williamson

Six weeks ago, I flew back from a Hearing God retreat in Seattle. I sat next to a young man—thirty-ish—who was returning home from a job interview. He scoffed at the interview process, saying he was interrogated by a bunch of “suits.”

“Suits?” I asked, “Surely no one actually wore a coat and tie.”

“Naw, they were just puffed up buffoons, hot air balloons, all show and no substance.”

We talked more about his life. He started college studying English, but his professors were idiots, so he dropped out. He currently worked at Lowes stocking shelves, but his passion is stories. He was even writing one. He thought he could help a computer gaming company in Seattle with his plots and characters. But those interviewers didn’t really “get” him.

He jeered at the airplane coffee because it was only Starbucks, not “real” gourmet; he turned down the snack because it wasn’t gluten free; he scoffed at my Surface Book laptop because it wasn’t a Mac; and he ridiculed the movies because they were all “make-a-buck” sequels.

The Sneer

Adam and Eve enslaved the entire human race when the fell for Satan’s sneer. Satan’s first words were, “Did God actually say you shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” He wasn’t looking for information. He was sneering and inviting Eve to join him. His question was a jeer: “What kind of God would prohibit that? Really? Yikes!”

They fell for a smirk. We too get shut-down merely by a jeer. When Christian kids go off to college and lose their faith, it’s never because they heard a well-reasoned argument against theism; it’s because they cowered under a chortle:
  • “You seem a smart kid. Do you really believe in a God who let the holocaust happen?”
  • Professor Bultmann once said, “It is impossible to use electric lights and the wireless … and at the same time to believe in the New Testament world of spirits and miracles.”
I want to say, “Really? You mean, God could exist if stone age man never invented the wheel, but once modern man invented a light switch, it killed him? The radio is your proof of no God?” (Sometimes we just have to be cynical about the world’s cynicism.)

Sneers and sarcasm never engage in discussion. They just look down from their lofty heights of arrogance. By dehumanizing anyone who disagrees—and with no reasonable conversation or cause—they despise everyone else.

The Downward Spiral of The Jeer

The first verse of the book of psalms describes the downward- regression of evil: it begins by “walking in the counsel of wicked,” and soon it “stands in the way of sinners,” and it ends up “sitting in the seat of scoffers.”

This perfectly describes the world we live in. We began by listening to the “common sense” worldly wisdom to solve our problems; soon we participate in the godless way of life (not necessarily atheistic, just deist, like God doesn’t matter); and we end up scoffing and sneering.

We’re cynical. As ten-year old kids, we loved the zoo. By the time we’re fifteen we jeer at those gullible kids fascinated by striped horses. As we grow older, we snicker at people who drink Folgers coffee, we chuckle at folks who eat at Big Boys, and we disdain movies with a happy ending. We’re too smart for all that.

We are derisive, critical, and sarcastic about the world. We don’t write a book, volunteer at a charity, or take an entry-level job. Instead, we mock authors who write “half-assed” books and laugh at friends who are becoming “suits.”

We all fall for the jeer, and we all look down on others. As I inwardly considered that young man on the plane, I felt my face begin to form a sneer. I was smirking! G. K. Chesterton once wrote,
The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.
The only cure for my sneering nature is to wonder, to wonder at a God who would choose me, a scoffing cynic, to be his very own treasures, flawed as I am. Because he did choose me, and you: not because we were good, nice, smart, or successful. He chose us simply because he loves us.

It kind of makes me wonder.


article © Copyright 2019, Beliefs of the Heart, Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

    Hearing God book cover  

Sam Williamson has published numerous articles and has written two books. He has a blog site, www.beliefsoftheheart.com, and can be reached at Sam@BeliefsoftheHeart.com. 

Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere, by Samuel C. Williamson, published by Kregel Publications, 2016, available from Amazon 

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