What a journey! I thank God for bringing me this far and for guiding me through this experience. What a challenge, as well as a humorous endeavor, it has been for me throughout this internship to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ with humor.
Last Thursday, I was able to host at the office of the Diocesan Theological College a symposium on the Humor of God. We were at least 35 people within the main room of the Diocesan and we had guest speakers Rev. Brian Perron (Curate at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Mont-Royal) and Rev. Joel Coppieters (pastor at the Côte de Neiges Presbyterian Church) share their knowledge on humor and God’s sense of humor in their lives. After having an hour listening to them we took a break of fifteen minutes and had a fruitful question and answer period.
The first question asked was by one of my fellow interns, “And what about you, Amos, what’s your perspective on the humor of God?” The audience in the back of the room applauded her and laughed. I was thankful that she had asked. At the beginning of the symposium, I did tell the people that came that I was going to partake in a dialogue with the guest speakers during the first half, but I did not say much (because of the time that was fixed and due to the fact that I was timid to intervene). Nonetheless, I thanked my colleague and gave her an answer. I was not satisfied with how I replied. I felt that I was going in all sorts of directions when expressing my view on the Humor of God. But the main thing I tried to communicate is that the Good News is the Humor of God. In the Good News we have qualities of what makes a joke – a set-up and a punchline. The Good News or the Gospel primarily focuses on Jesus’ death and his resurrection. As comedian Michael Jr. explains: “The set-up is when a comedian uses his talents and resources, to cease any opportunity to ensure that his audience is moving in the same direction. The punchline occurs when he alters that direction in such a way that was not anticipated by the audience. When you catch on this change you have received the punchline. The results are revelation, fulfillment and joy, expressed through laughter.” Though Jesus was not a comedian the way he speaks about his death and his rising from the dead relates to Michael Jr.’s comment. If we read Mt 20:17-19 (NIV) we find this: Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” We can say that the set-up are verses 17-18 where Jesus directs his disciples toward the reality of his future death and in verse 19 the punchline occurs when he alters their train of thought and speaks about his rising to life after three days. Surprisingly, the NIV translation (out of 50 plus translations in English of the Bible) is the only English translation that has an exclamation mark at the end of Mt 20:19. I wonder why?
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised… For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Co 15:13, 16-19 NIV).”
Well, thanks a lot, Paul! That sounds encouraging! But wait. Verse 20 says something vital: But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. What great news we have to rejoice about! Christ has risen. He has risen indeed. He is the Preeminent One amongst the dead. He is the only being to have lived a human life without sin and come back to life still without sin. Wow… And we who are the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ can rejoice in this as well. Knowing that we too will have a resurrected body just like Christ when he calls us home.
At the end of Lucy Worley’s article “Why are Christians so serious about everything?”, she wrote: “Let yourself off the religious hook just a bit. It will remove the pressure. You’ll be more of who you really are – which is the best way to show Jesus to a hurting world.” In relation to Worley’s quote, I believe that a lot of us Christians tend to be too serious and not be the living proof of new life found in Jesus. There is pure joy in the Christian life. Even Elton Trueblood in his book The Humor of Christ, would be in agreement with Worley when he wrote: “Any alleged Christianity which fails to express itself in gaiety, at some point, is clearly spurious. The Christian is gay not because he is blind to injustice and suffering, but because he is convinced that these, in the light of the divine sovereignty, are never ultimate. He is convinced that the unshakable purpose is the divine rule in all things, whether of heaven or earth (Eph. 1:10). Though he can be sad, and often is perplexed, he is never really worried. The well-known humor of the Christian is not a way of denying the tears, but rather a way of affirming something which is deeper than tears” (p. 32).
So to conclude, in my opinion, the Humor of God is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection – a tragicomedy. It is a convergence of Jesus’ death at the cross and his victorious rise from the dead that gives us a reason to laugh at sin, evil, injustice, and death for one day they will be no more. And what a humorous and glorious day that will be!
May the Humor of God be with you as you go about living in this hurting world!