I recently read the debut novel of a cyber-friend of mine. The novel, which is called The Resurrection, is about how spiritual forces clash in a small town, kicked off by the resurrection of a dead child. I wrote Mike a note after reading the book, and told him that it reminded me quite a bit of the novels of Charles Williams, who also wrote spiritual/horror thrillers from a Christian perspective. Mike also writes an excellent blog, and is on Twitter and Facebook.
Anyway, I asked Mike if he might like to do a guest post here at BHR, and here's what he sent me. I think you'll enjoy it. Drop Mike a note and let him know what you think.
Lord, Save Us from Our Stuffiness
By Mike Duran
There is considerable debate about whether or not Jesus laughed. In fact, a Gallup poll once found that half of all Americans thought that Jesus was not fun loving. One need only to look at His followers to understand how this conclusion could be reached.
Through the ages, the saints have frowned on laughter. By the 4th century, church leader John Chrysostom had declared that Jesus never laughed. This is why many medieval paintings portray Jesus as serene and always sober. Christendom’s sense of humor didn’t improve much over the next millennium. In the 1400s, the Council of Constance decreed that any minister or monk who spoke “jocular words such as to provoke laughter” would be damned to hell. See, this laughter stuff is serious business!
Apparently, laughter has always carried a harsh sentence in the Church. The famed British preacher Charles Spurgeon was often criticized for his use of humor. On one occasion, he answered one of his critics by saying, “Ma’am, if you knew how much I held back, you’d commend me.” Nevertheless, the Church is still full of gloom-inducing Pharisees. H. L. Mencken once defined a Puritan as a person with the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. Is it any wonder many pastors are custodians of propriety, their stiffness akin to spiritual rigor mortis, and their houses of worship like museums of torture, with solemnity being the rack upon which their parishioners are painstakingly splayed?
Don’t tell this to the first-century believers. One of the greatest days in Church history was the day they were accused of being drunk. The Holy Spirit descended and a party ensued (Acts 2); thousands of new Christians “broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (2:46-47). Amidst the tongue-speaking, foot-stomping, rip-roaring revival, the only possible explanation was, “They have had too much wine” (vs. 13). What other reason could there be for such gaiety, especially when the religious leaders of the day were such unrelenting sourpusses?
And maybe that’s our problem – Nobody accuses Christians of being drunk anymore.
In his 1964 classic The Humor of Christ, Elton Trueblood suggests that we cannot begin to understand Christ’s life and teaching, without acknowledging the joy, wit and whimsy He brought to this world. In a way, humor may be the most neglected key to ciphering Jesus’ message.
Our journey to Christ-likeness means being saved from lots of things: bad habits, bad attitudes, and their eternal consequences. One of the things we need saved from is our stuffiness. I mean, how can we ever hope to woo people to Heaven, if our Leader can barely even crack a smile?