By Nick Brzozowski
What do you think of when you think of God? Is he an old man in the clouds with a long white beard? Do you think of a grump who is sitting on his porch ready to let you have it if you step on his lawn?
Do you ever see him laughing? What about cracking a smile?
I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to avoid disappointing God, as if he's got an anger problem and needs to be tip-toed around. But, God is slow to anger and abounding in humor!
To prove it, I am going to show you 18 signs from the Bible and life that God has a sense of humor. As you read this list, consider what the levity and joy from God could mean for the way you experience him.
1. The First Christians Were Friends.
In Acts 2, we discover the beginning of the Christian church -- and some weird stuff happens! Ten days after Jesus ascends into heaven, the Holy Spirit comes. There's wind. There's tongues of fire falling on people. In a moment God makes the disciples fluent in all kinds of languages, so that they can preach the gospel to everyone around.
After all this, Luke records what church looked like for the Christians in Jerusalem. He talks about their devotion and God adding to their number people getting saved and more signs and wonders. Within this description is an expression, "enjoying the favor of all the people" (v. 47).
Now, enjoying the favor of people could mean a lot of things. It could include that they were kind and compassionate, that they were generous toward one another, and that they showed active listening.
But, when I think about my experiences with others, I really couldn't say that I enjoyed the favor of all the people if there were no laughs shared. I imagine these first Christians who are dealing with terrible persecution and awe-inspiring works of God having a good belly-laugh over something Peter accidentally said in his last sermon.
But, when I think about my experiences with others, I really couldn't say that I enjoyed the favor of all the people if there were no laughs shared.
2. Bored to Death.
Later in Acts, we get this story of a young man who tries to stay awake, while Paul is teaching a group of people late into the night. Paul is on a roll and poor Eutychus dozes off. Unfortunately, his seat was on the window sill. So, when he fell asleep, he fell a-splat onto the ground.
Paul takes this opportunity to pray for a resurrection, and, sure enough, God raises the snoozing saint from the dead. Luke records that they then went to Taco Bell for some late-night fueling and Paul talked until morning -- no harm, no foul!
Take 15 minutes tomorrow morning to watch a couple squirrels -- running on telephone wires, pretending to hide nuts and constantly jittering. Then, try and tell me that God doesn't have a sense of humor.
4. Keep it PG.
Paul tells the Ephesians to avoid crude joking (Ephesians 5:4). He gives us the conditions for our jokes, but assumes that we are joking!
5. Not Too Good for Kids.
In Matthew 19, children are brought to Jesus, but his disciples try and shoo them away. Apparently, they thought that Jesus was too important or busy to serve families. But, Jesus didn't think so. He replies:
Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.
People have speculated what Jesus could have meant that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Maybe he was referring to the child-like faith that we are to have -- that kids have a natural inclination to trust God. But, could Jesus be referring to their natural inclination to laugh, to play, to grab a hold of joy and to live life to the fullest?
6. Take Your Meds.
According to Solomon, “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
Recently, scientists and researchers have confirmed that cheer (or laughter) does make great medicine. According to an article in Help Guide:
[Laughter] draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.
7. You're Going to Have a Baby!
At 90 years old, Sarah was told that she would have her first baby (Genesis 18). Her first reaction was to laugh. Of course, you can't blame her! In fact, she named her son Isaac, which means, he will laugh!
This isn't just an obscure story deep in the recesses of the Scriptures. No, this was at the heart of God's activity in the world.
You see, in God's major plan to restore the world, he decided to send his Son, Jesus. But, first, he would raise up a nation from a family, in which Jesus would be born, with Abraham being the great, great, great grandpa. There were just two problems. Sarah was 90. And Abraham was 100.
Isaac's very life, which happened to be so much of a miracle it was more like a joke, was the first domino is God's plan of redemption of the world.
Isaac's very life, which happened to be so much of a miracle it was more like a joke, was the first domino in God's plan of redemption of the world.
8. You Want Meat - Here's Some Meat!
One tool comedians employ is exaggeration. Now, they may exaggerate with their words. But, God, who rules all of nature, can exaggerate with his actions.
So, when the Hebrews are complaining in the wilderness that they miss meat (Numbers 11), God shows off (with a little zest!).
"You shall not eat one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils.”
9. Where's Baal?
In 1 Kings 18, we see Elijah, the great prophet of God, standing up against all the prophets of Baal. The challenge involved calling down fire from heaven.
Before God sends a lightening bolt to strike Elijah's sacrifice with just one short prayer, the prophets of Baal sought to call fire down. For hours, these religious leaders danced and shouted and even slashed themselves with swords! But, nothing. Their sacrifice was untouched.
In the very middle of ceremony, while the anticipation was at its height, Elijah employ another great tool of comedy: sarcasm!
You’ll have to shout louder, he scoffed, for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!
10. "Puny Earthlings"
Ever hear the expression "Man plans. God laughs."? Well, if the plans are to try and disrupt God's work, his sides begin to hurt. Go ahead and read Psalm 2, but do it in your best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice:
The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
11. Pure Delight.
When I think of pure delight, I think of rich dark chocolate. Do you know what God thinks of? You!
There is such a powerful joy that God has over you, that it overflows in singing (Zephaniah 3:17). If God is going to sing over you, maybe he could be laughing with you as well!
He will take great delight in you … he will rejoice over you with singing.
12. Humor in Jesus' Preaching.
You could find several occasions of Jesus employing the tools of comedy in his sermons.
Dramatizing his illustrations (Matthew 6:2)
Drawing out the absurdity in others' words (Luke 22:25)
Using irony to make a point (Luke 18:1-8)
Using the element of surprise (Luke 10:25-37)
13. "Get This Girl a Hamburger."
At the pinnacle of the miracle, while everyone is left astonished, Jesus brings us all back down to the ground.
In Mark 5, we meet a father, Jairus, who desperately searches for Jesus. To his great relief, he finds him and convinces this great miracle worker to follow him back to his house where his daughter is dying. On his way, Jesus gets stopped by a woman who also needs healing.
When Jesus finishes healing the woman, a messenger comes up to Jairus to tell him the bad news that she had died. But, Jesus wants to go anyways, where he raises her from the dead.
By this point, you may be expecting Jesus to say something profound, like "This is the power of faith." Or advice "Now, that's why you should make sure your chicken is fully cooked to 160 degrees."
But, instead, Jesus tells the people around to get her something to eat. When put next to the heaviness of the day and the intensity of the miracle, Jesus ordering a Happy Meal is hilarious!
When put next to the heaviness of the day and the intensity of the miracle, Jesus ordering a Happy Meal is hilarious!
14. Demon Pigs.
Then, in Matthew 8, we see Jesus casting a whole bunch of demons out of a man and driving them into a herd of pigs who jump off a cliff.
Theologians believe that this is a nod to the conflict between the Jews and the Romans. The demons called themselves Legion, which is the name for the Roman military units.