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Honor the Joke (08/19/2012)
by T.M. Schoewe

Have you noticed that as people grow older they become more and more interested in a “good joke?” This has been my personal experience especially with my 90-year-old brother Gregory who was taken by his daughter to a Seattle hospital because his heart was fibrillating. Hospital personnel assured her that they had a machine that could take care of that. They put him on the machine and in three minutes he was dead! What a shock for his family and for us! After several weeks it may seem strange but we find ourselves imagining that he is smiling after or over that sudden departure. We will always remember his sense of humor.

Greg and his wife, Dorcas, ardent church members everywhere they resided, were intensely supportive of the missions of each congregation they belonged to. Greg never lost that interest in missions and was also an avid gardener. And as time seemed to take away his energy in those areas he found more time to be interested in a good joke. Our telephone calls between Winona and Seattle the last number of years always included a joke or two or even three.

And here we have to stop and ask a question about our Lord, Who had to become truly human in order to do what He needed to do for us. So did Jesus have a sense of humor? What does He think of you when you enjoy a good joke?

Reading through the Gospels carefully we find quite a bit of humor in our Lord. Christ used a sense of irony in many of His teachings, especially to the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the teachers of the Law who wouldn’t accept the Good News and took everything so very seriously. Take a look at Matthew 23:24 where Jesus pictures the Pharisees as fastidious diners, doing their utmost to strain a gnat from their soup but swallowing a whole camel in the process.

Jesus was no stranger to the role of humor in lifting the deadly weight of seriousness from our shoulders. We don’t believe our Christian faith requires absolute seriousness. Read where Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 how much God cares for us, so we should not worry about tomorrow. And then He goes on with a bit of humor when He says, in verse 34, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” And when Jesus called Peter a “Rock” Jesus was being ironic. Peter proved he was anything but a rock when it came down to the clutch.In one of His sermons Jesus tells of the man with a large pole sticking out of his eye while he is trying to get the speck of dust out of his neighbor’s eye. That would make a funny newspaper cartoon.

Anyway, the point is that we should lighten up as Christians and appreciate good humor, humor that is harmless. We know there is malicious humor and teasing intended to wound and aggravate. But the ironic sarcasm of Jesus is tempered with one distinction; in all of it Jesus is motivated by love and compassion. We all need to cultivate a sense of humor in our lives! Remember the Psalmist speaks of God’s laughter.

P.S. One of my brother’s last emails to me contained a joke about three retirees each with a hearing loss. Playing golf on a very wintry day in March, one man remarked “it is surely windy, isn’t it?” “No, no,” the other man said, “It’s Thursday.” The third man, catching up to the others, said, “I’m thirsty too! Let’s stop and have a beer!”



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