Humor

6 02 2014

I use humor in my sermons and most of the time, an attitude of lightness. I like to relax people with humor and perhaps make their day a little brighter. One of my dear friends told me that sometimes I think I am funny, but I am not! Well, I try.

The Bible seems to prove my attempts at humor: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. ” (Proverbs 17:22) I do not do pranks nor very many jokes (I just can’t remember them!). I use irony, a play on words, or statement out of context with the situation. I used to use sarcasm a lot but learned early in my ministry the danger of such humor. Many were offended. It was more like a poison than a medicine. I still use it, but do so with great caution.

I do not like it when people use me as the butt of their jokes, so I rarely mention anyone in my attempts at humor. I do not use people as the object of humor in my sermons and never, never, never mention my wife in a humorous way.

Tim Keller makes interesting observations about the dangers of humor. It’s a good read, especially if others are sometimes offended by your humor. Maybe you too think you are funny, but are not.

Pastor Dave

The Gospel and Humor

by Tim Keller

I was reading a review of the movie Prince Caspian in a newspaper for urban downtown-types, and the article dripped with sarcastic, sneering, smirking humor that, among other things, referred to Susan’s horn as a phallic symbol. Humor is like seasoning on food – everything is flat without it. But something was amiss here. I began to ask myself, “Does the gospel have an effect on our sense of humor?” The answer has to be yes – but why and how?

Your humor has a lot to do with how you regard yourself. Many people use humor to put down others, keep themselves in the driver’s seat in a conversation and setting, and remind the listeners of their superior vantage point. They use humor not to defuse tension and put people at ease, but to deliberately belittle the opposing view. Rather than showing respect and doing the hard work of true disagreement, they mock others’ points of view and dismiss them without actually engaging the argument.

Ultimately, sarcastic put-down humor is self-righteous – a form of self-justification – and that is what the gospel demolishes. When we grasp that we are unworthy sinners saved by an infinitely costly grace, it destroys both our self-righteousness and our need to ridicule others. This is also true of self-directed ridicule. Some people constantly and bitterly mock themselves. At first it looks like a form of humility, or realism, but really it is just as self-absorbed as the other version. It is a sign of an inner discomfort with one’s self, a profound spiritual restlessness.

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