Robert Wurtz II
And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:53-55)
When the Emperor Julian was about to wage war against the Persians, he threatened that when the war was over he would bitterly persecute the Christians. He arrogantly mocked Christ as “the carpenter’s son” — suggesting He was quite unable to save them from him. Upon hearing this quackery, Didymas, an ecclesiastic, pronounced this sentence upon him: “This carpenter’s son is even now making a wooden coffin for Julian!” The Emperor went into the battle, and was suddenly shot through the chest with an arrow. He pulled it out, finding himself mortally wounded, and cursed the Lord. Then, taking some of the blood from the wound, he threw it up into the air, exclaiming, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean.” (BI)
Julian’s dismissive attitude towards Christ proved to be far more dangerous than he ever imagined. Matthew Henry once commented that “God is never at a loss for a means of punishing wicked people; His quiver is always full.” Julian certainly learned this truth a moment too late. Sadly, he had blinded himself into believing he could actually challenge the Creator referring to the Lord as, “The Carpenter’s Son.” Little did he know that he was trifling with the Judge of All the Earth.
We have an example of dismissiveness in the Old Testament when a young prophet came to announce to Jehu that he was going to be king in 2 Kings 9:1-13. We have this record:
“Then Jehu came out to the servants of his master, and one said to him, “Is all well? Why did this madman come to you?” And he said to them, “You know the man and his babble.” (2 Kings 9:11 NKJV)
The servants called the prophet a madman, in derision, (possibly) with reference to the ecstatic utterances of the prophets when in a state of holy inspiration. Jehu answered evasively, “Ye know the man and his muttering,” i.e., ye know that he is mad and says nothing rational. (Keil and Delitzsch) In the case of this prophet, the servants asked Jehu what the guy said. His answer is insightful, “You know the man and his babble.” In other words, “you know how he is.” He was being dismissive at first, then the servants pressed him about it.
And they said, “That is not true; tell us now.” And he said, “Thus and so he spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.'” (2 Kings 9:12 ESV)
It is good that these servants had the good sense to challenge Jehu and get the truth out of him. Jehu had cast serious doubt on this prophet of God by saying, “You know the man and his babble.” Had he not reversed his course, undermining this prophet and the word that God spoke to him would have been a horrendous sin. It’s unclear why he responded this way, but it could have been the enemy wanting to undermine God’s purposes in his life. Suddenly he realized that this is really God and he turned on a dime. Unfortunately, others will do similar things and are never challenged and they never change course.
The enemy has been using dismissiveness to lure people into sin since the Garden of Eden. The Genesis account of the Serpent shows him to use dismissiveness towards God in order to beguile Eve into eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Beguile is a word that means to deceive completely. Satan (the Serpent) dismisses God’s authority in the eyes of Eve, leaving her with the impression that God and His word are less than they really are. When used in this way, dismissiveness was actually a slander of God’s character.
Slanderizing a Generation
In modern times the enemy works to slanderize many men and women of God by using dismissiveness. In fact, an entire generation of older Christians have had to endure dismissive criticism that they were too conservative, too legalistic, and a host of other cynical comments. “You know how they are” or “that’s the old people for you” are phrases meant to cast doubt on the older person’s claims. What happens? We have watched a moral degeneration take place in many of the churches and in the world simply by the enemy using dismissiveness as his weapon of choice.
Dismissiveness is one of the enemies most effective weapons. All he has to do is get a respected person to use it and the effect is exponential. Edward Bernays in his early 1900’s classic work, Propaganda, reminds us that most people do not study subjects out for themselves. They look to someone they trust to give their opinion and then they believe what that person believes. This concept was part of the psychological arsenal that the Nazi’s used to deceive the German population. People are generally not good students, they are followers. Because of this a person who is trusted can wield almost unfathomable influence on others. This is why God will hold leaders and teachers to a greater standard than others. The power of influence is tremendous.
Nazi’s are not the only ones to use such tactics to influence the people. Agents of the Devil, found in churches, use the same weapon. I recall as a young youth pastor preaching the Gospel to young people. There was always a call to repentance and a life of true Biblical faith. The greatest challenge I faced was from other youth pastors that also influenced these students. It was not uncommon for the kids to come to me as say that they asked “so and so” if this is how a Christian ought to live, etc., and their dismissive reply was, “That’s just Robert.” What the person had done was to completely undermine everything the kids were being taught by suggesting dismissively that it was merely “Robert’s opinion” of what the Bible says. The kids often gravitated to these other “youth pastors” who comforted them with these dismissive statements. Some of them became utterly confused not knowing what to believe. Why did it happen? The sin of dismissiveness.
Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
Familiarity breeds contempt, as the old saying goes. Jesus experienced it. They dismissed him out-of-hand to the point that He could not do miracles among the people. It must needs be that offenses come to the people. These are comments designed to undermine and dismiss the subject or person who is preaching the New Covenant Gospel. Nevertheless, woe unto the person who practices such things. Why? Because it destroys faith. It destroys peoples’ ability to believe what is right and wrong. All because somebody didn’t want to repent themselves and live right, they taught their subjects to be just like themselves. They taught them to dismiss true saints as unworthy of serious consideration. Jesus had to deal with it, and we have to deal with it.
Dismissive comments are to your faith what carbon monoxide is to your body. It robs your blood of precious oxygen by hijacking the oxygen carriers. It combines over twice as easily with your oxygen carriers than oxygen does and when it attaches in the blood, it doesn’t like to let go. Once it gets in your system it takes some time to get it out so oxygen can travel again. It is deadly. Some never recover from carbon monoxide poisoning. Dismissive comments are like that. They hijack your sensibilities not allowing faith to flow as it should. It casts doubt on God, men and women of God, and the word of God.
If you are ever in the presence of a person who dismissively treats men and women of God; or serious subjects such as holiness and righteousness, you are in the presence of an agent of the enemy. If given the chance they will craft a means of dismissing every person or doctrine that comes along that challenges their sin or their lifestyle. Flee from them. They are too easy to believe. It is diabolical and will destroy you and your faith if given the chance.
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