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  • Writer's pictureJim Donaher

Lighten Up! God is Funny!

I have been a closet wise guy my whole life. I was always afraid of getting in trouble on any level, so I behaved myself when I was in school, work, church. I was not the disruptive influence that makes being in a group fun by keeping everyone from doing the boring work they’re supposed to do.

But I usually enjoyed watching the wise guys work. The clarity of purpose, the fearlessness, the recognition (sometimes) that even the teacher, or the priest, or the coach, or the boss was just another human. Most of the time, these issues were not serious. Wiseguys don’t usually want to drop the gloves and duke it out, especially with an authority. And authorities usually had enough good sense to de-escalate the issue and avoid bloodshed, or worse, detention.

I have always lacked confidence, and it was especially telling that even when I desperately wanted to disrupt, I didn’t. Because while I was afraid to get in trouble, there was one thing that scared me more: What if nobody laughed?

So, it is with this backdrop that I hesitantly enter the minefield of Christian humor. It’s strange because everyone is afraid, including me, of ‘making fun of God.’ Rightly so. But many people are blinded by their rigid, often artificially originated, ideas about how we must interact with the Almighty.

They miss the fact that it really isn’t God of whom we’re making fun. It’s people’s reaction to Him. There is absurdity in how we limit God, how we ascribe evil intent to God, how we expect righteous punishment from God, and how we think of Him as random, arbitrary and capricious.

A comedian once pointed out, that the Lord, indeed, has a sense of humor. He discussed it in the context of having prayed for healthy children, not comfortable being more specific, and giving the Lord room to pull all manner of pranks on the unsuspecting parents with the resulting offspring.

Being God is serious work. He is the creator of literally everything, literally everywhere. You cannot even imagine all that He has to think about. True infinity is imponderable and must be exhausting. But at the end of the day, when God gets to Miller Time, He needs to relax and enjoy Himself just like you (or we are just like Him, that is, created in His image).

Think about what must make Him smile or snicker.

Prayers that begin, “Lord, you probably can’t (do this, hear me, understand, etc.)…

(Oh really? Yes, DO try me…)

Prayers that begin, ‘Lord, I’m not sure if you knew this…’

(Oh no, I am SOOO surprised. Thanks for keeping me in the loop…)

Prayers that begin, ‘Lord, can I talk to Jesus? Is He home?’

(No, He and Moses went out to hit a bucket of balls. He’s out for the night.)

The scene in The Holy Grail about the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

I believe He giggles incessantly at that one, to the point where the angels roll their eyes (God can laugh pretty loudly, you know. Like how the house shook when Herman Munster laughed, times, like, a billion).

God loves His children, and absolutely every man, woman, and child are His children. Like any father, He loves His children, but that doesn’t mean that He puts up with their zany antics. Unlike Santa Claus, God needs no list, nor to check anything twice. He knows what you’re doing, all the time (put that down!) and even more, He knows why you did it.

But He also delights in our lives. Our achievements, no matter how small and insignificant, go on God’s refrigerator door. He hurts for us when we are disappointed, although as we know, there is a purpose behind these setbacks in life. He loves our praise the way we love to see our children perform in school pageants (although it would be nice if we didn’t have to endure everyone else’s kids, but that is why this is earth and not heaven…). They are not perfect, but they represent our attempts to please Him, and anyway, He knows we are trying and that we love Him and that’s what He cares about.

I used to laugh at athletes and celebrities who, fresh from winning a game, or an Oscar, or some other thing, pointed to heaven and thanked God. ‘As though God cares who wins the Auburn-Tennessee game! Do you think He had money on it? Ha ha ha.’

Well, I have come to realize that He actually does care who wins. And who loses, and who made a first down on 3rd and 8 from the 34 in the first quarter. Not for gambling reasons. God has no reason to gamble, and was probably kicked out of Las Vegas for counting cards. (No, not really. He can go wherever He wants.)

God uses every single thing that happens. There is nothing too minor to not receive His attention. So, is God a Tennessee fan? Yes. Is He an Auburn fan? Yes. Is He a Yankee fan? No, of course not. And Satan created the Montreal Canadiens, but whatever. The point is, God cares about everything because everything affects at least one of His children. And if it affects one of His children, even the tiniest bit, the outcome is important.

So, the kid who thanks God and says hello to his mom on TV, after scoring the winning touchdown has his priorities in order. This is an important moment to him and God was involved.

But what about the 21 other players on the field? The 30 other kids from both teams kneeling, together, in prayer whether they won or lost? The referees? The cheerleaders? Broadcasters? Fans? And, yes, the gamblers? The ripples extend everywhere. Nothing happens in isolation.

Everything matters to God. Every. Single. Thing.

Even absurd things? Yes. Doesn’t mean He likes everything. God has good taste (do I even need to point that out?). As we recall from the Bible, He enjoys good wine and long walks on the water. I remember years ago hearing a sermon about Jesus’s humanity and as evidence, His love of a good time.

Think about His life. He was always with His buddies. At least one of those guys was ‘that guy’ who everyone goofed on. Peter might have been ‘that guy.’ Just imagine the pranks you could play if you were Jesus!

What else did He say when He walked on water that didn't make the final draft of the Bible? ‘Hey, you left without me? Really? Did you think I didn’t know? That I wouldn’t find out? I’ll show you…Ditch me will you? Hey Peter, come here! No, don’t worry, it’s easy. Yeah, that’s it, come see me! Whoops! Shouldn’t have looked down… Alright, I’ll be right there, cool your jets. Jeez…wait, what?’

The point of all of this is that loving the Lord, believing the Gospel and laughing with Him are not mutually exclusive concepts. Try not to judge folks harshly. Try not to worry and trust Him to care for you. Be gentle in your criticism. Seek to share the gospel.

But for God’s sake, lighten up! Life is often hard and sad and serious. God didn’t mean for all of it to be that way. He wants us to experience peace and joy and laughter and song and dance and all of the silly, frivolous stuff that make life fascinating and fun.

God wants to have a relationship with you. That means all the things we know – that He loves us, saved us, wants us to be with Him in heaven, wants us to live for Him and achieve His purpose for our lives.

It also means that we enjoy one another’s company. Part of that enjoyment is laughter, and even laughter that involves Him.

God bless and keep you always.

is hter that involves Him.

God bless and keep you.

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