Day 23: "Be funny, for Christ's sake!"

"I used to be afraid of being funny whenever I talked about religious things because I was under the impression that comedy is somehow less spiritual than other forms of communication. But that was before I really explored the life of Jesus."

—From Ch. 23 ("But Was He Funny?"), Jesus Journey

So brethren, was Jesus funny? What do you think?

Here's my interesting testimony: God once told me a joke.

It was February 2004, and I was out for a walk in Tauranga, New Zealand, where I then lived. I can even remember the side of the street I was walking on. God told me a joke and I laughed—I laughed out loud before I'd had time to compute how strange and unexpected an occurrence had just taken place.

But why should it be strange and unexpected for the joyful, playful inventor of humour to joke with us? Why do we presume that if God wants to speak to us, then His words are bound to be a matter of weight and gravitas, and not an expression of His extreme happiness at loving His kids? Why is it so hard for us to take silliness seriously?

Here's something else weird: The joke that God told me wasn't actually very funny. It was a kind of lame Dad-joke, a play on words of the sort that makes 10 year-olds roll their eyes and hope that no one is around to be embarrassed in front of. God was being goofy with me, his boy.

So when Trent mentioned Jesus' play on words in chapter twenty-three—"You strain the galma and swallow the gamla!!"—my ears immediately pricked up. It's a pun! It's a silly play on words! IT'S A DAD JOKE.

And oh my life, how we need Dad jokes. Heavenly Dad jokes. When the darkness of this dark world seems to cling so tight, and we are weary and heavy-laden, we need the Almighty to whisper some comic relief in our ear. We need to learn to laugh at the darkness—not because it's not dark, but because in the big picture of God's eternal transcendent joviality, our troubles and burdens really are no more than light momentary afflictions. The Devil hates us and wants us to be unhappy. Jesus doesn't. He is still a man of suffering, acquainted with grief, so we needn't think that His jokes might trivialise our pain. Instead they teach us that our pain won't last for ever, and that beyond it is delight and joy and laughter beyond our capacity for comprehension.

But here's the thing: If Trent has convinced you that, yes, Jesus was funny, please don't just add that piece of information to your 'list of things I believe about God'. Instead, add it to your devotional activities. Tell jokes to Him. Play word games and be goofy for the glory of God. Make a discipline of joy and take silliness seriously.

Be funny, for Christ's sake!

Today's guest post is by David Rowe: David is an Englishman in Charleston, SC, trying to love his neighbourhood, live by faith, and teach Americans how to make a proper cup of tea. He is the husband of the epic Maria Shahid, works for an Anglican church, and is the author of The Proverbs of Middle-earth. He cuts his own hair, and it kinda shows.

Photo credits: "laughing bugs"—Stephanie Pekrul / "smiling" & "joyful ballerina"—Chelsea Hudson