DOES GOD HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR? by Harold Sala

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“Does God really lack a sense of humor?” That question was the lead sentence in a newspaper article that crossed my desk. I read the article and got to thinking about it. John Dart, writing for the L. A. Times, asked some provocative questions and started me thinking. Does God have a sense of humor?

First on the negative side of the ledger, if you will take a concordance and look up the three passages in Scripture where it is said that God laughs, you will find that He laughs at the foolishness of the wicked rather than with the righteous, who are having a chuckle over something funny that happened.

Are we to conclude then that God has no sense of humor? If tradition counts, you again would have to put it on the negative side of the ledger, because the church has generally followed the attitude of St. John Chrysostom who lived about the 4th century. Chrysostom said, “Laughter does not seem to be a sin, but it leads to sin.” Thus, Christians have often associated God with black clerical garb and long faces. That fact was born out by an incident that took place in England as a huckster was going from door to door collecting trash and particularly old glass bottles. Knocking on the door of a house where a certain woman lived who was known to be a rather dour Christian, he asked, “Got any old whisky bottles, lady?” Furrowing her brow she replied, “Do I look like I would drink whisky?” “Okay, lady! Then vinegar bottles!”

On the positive side of the question, it is evident that Jesus, in spite of the seriousness of His life and His mission, had a sense of humor and could smile at Himself. The humor of Christ is often robed in sarcasm and innuendoes which are lost in translation. Telling the disciples, “Go tell that old Fox Herod,” must have brought a smile to the faces of the disciples. The Quaker scholar, Elton Trueblood, in his book, The Humor of Christ, contends His humor is most clearly shown through the irony and paradox in His exchanges with people.

Though there is no clear reference to any occasion when Jesus laughed, I am confident that He did laugh and could see humor in the ironies of life. One of the reasons that humor has a place in the Christian’s frame of reference in life is that humor is directly related to Christian virtues. If a man is at peace with himself, it is easy to smile or laugh at himself; but when he is uptight and angry with himself and the world, he is more apt to strike out at himself rather than to laugh at himself.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “What happiness there is for you who are now hungry, for you are going to be satisfied! What happiness there is for you who weep, for the time will come when you shall laugh with joy!” (Luke 6:21, Living Bible). Had laughter been contrary to the Christian’s personality, obviously He would never have said that.

Someone once said, “A proud person cannot laugh at himself because it just hurts too much. People can laugh at their embarrassing moments weeks or months after but, can they do it at the end of the same day? That requires a certain amount of humility.”

Yes, I think you can fairly conclude that God does have a sense of humor. Abraham Lincoln believed that, for he used to quip that God had to have a sense of humor to make us all as we are. And looking in the mirror this morning, I have to agree.

Resource Reading: Luke 6:17-37

Text: Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Luke 6:21, KJV

GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – October 12, 2017