Indeed, not only does the Bible say that we are to love people, but that love is not rude. In our postmodern age of nicety, the only real sin anymore seems to be hurting people’s feelings. But, sometimes God needs to offend feelings to save our soul.
When the disciples came to Jesus in Matthew 15:10-14 and said, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended?” how did Jesus respond? Knowing their hardened, stubborn, rebellious, religious hearts of unrepentance, Jesus was not ready to schedule a meeting, apologize profusely, blog about his error, or spend the next decade listening to Gary Jules alone in the dark memorizing greeting card rhymes, and weeping bitterly because he could not shake the horror of hurting someone’s feelings.
In the end, Jesus was murdered. This was because, in large part, he offended a lot of people. Many of them were most offended because they were the butt of his jokes. However, as Jesus says, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me (Matt. 11:6).” Since we are all goofy sinners whose self-righteousness is a silly joke, the only way not to be offended by Jesus and to laugh at ourselves is to live a life of continual repentance. When we fail to laugh at ourselves we also waste a small mountain of golden comedic material.
But, should people laugh in church? Regarding humor’s place in church services, theologian John Frame has said:
Some may think that humor necessarily trivializes worship. But that is not true, for there is humor in Scripture, for example in Genesis 18:13–15; 21:6–7; Proverbs 26:15; Isaiah 44:12–20; Matthew 19:24; 23:24; and Acts 12:1–19. God laughs at the wicked in Psalm 2:7. Humor has a positive theological purpose: it enables us to see ourselves from God’s perspective; it knocks us down a peg or two. It shows the ridiculous discrepancy between God’s greatness and our pretensions. As such, the emotion arising from humor can pass very quickly into a deep sorrow for sin and a craving for God’s grace. Humor can also express joy in the Lord and the “hilarious” cheer (2 Cor. 9:7 in the Greek) by which God’s Spirit frees us from selfishness to serve our brothers and sisters. Humor can also establish a bond between leader and people, reassuring them that he is one of them. Thus, it can strengthen the horizontal side of worship, the unity of the body of Christ.1
Since the Kingdom of God is one of joy, it’s a good idea for its’ citizens to add a little laughing along with their singing as we venture toward the party that never ends hosted by none other than Jesus Christ.
- John M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth: A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1996), 83.
This blog is adapted from the book Religion Saves by Mark Driscoll.