November 19, 2015

Make Me Laugh

Gary Thomas — (4)

As we enter the holidays, here’s something to think about to inject new life into your marriage and family:

Laugh together. Think about how to make each other laugh uproariously.

Life is tough. Things get serious. If we stop laughing part of us dies. In a very real sense, to stop laughing is to stop living.

When was the last time you and your spouse laughed together? When has your whole family had to grab their stomachs because they couldn’t stop laughing? There’s actually a theological power behind humor. Gordon Smith, in his book Called to be Saints writes:

“We could speak of humor as essential to Christian wisdom…Humor—insofar as it arises from the good, the noble, the excellent and the worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8)—is a sign of faith. How can we laugh unless we know that evil is but for a time? Faith means we can delight in the moment, in the company of friends, in the ironies of life. And we can laugh.”

In other words, of all people, Christians should be the ones who laugh the most, not the least.

But our humor will look different. Smith again: “It is for this reason that some suggest that in the dramatic arts, comedy is actually deeper and more profound than tragedy. The lightness of the comedy assumes the deep order of creation; we can laugh knowing that all is well and will be well. And yet it must be stressed that humor at its best, true humor, never degrades another person or another people. Also, something is very sad when we assume that a comic can be funny only if sexuality is part of the routine. We urgently need a humor that is God-honoring—perhaps even a humor that makes God laugh with us.”

One of my heroes, Charles Spurgeon, actually prayed that God would save him from “overly serious saints.” To be human is to laugh.  Made in the image of God, we are the only creatures who do laugh. That’s saying something very significant, right there.laughing bride and groom1

If it has been too long since you’ve laughed—so long, in fact, that you can’t even remember the last time you have—something very important is missing in your life and marriage spiritually, theologically, something is askew.

May it never be that our kids or our spouses think they have to leave the family to laugh that family is only about work, commitment, and routine. That’s a prescription for disaster.

It isn’t silly to cultivate laughter; it’s an act of faith. It’s not “worldly” to want to be healed or restored with laughter. It’s an act of worship.

Let’s help each other get closer to God. Let’s make each other laugh.


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6 responses to Make Me Laugh

  1. I’m All In on this post Gary. Too often we Christians look like we have an upset stomach. This should not be! Are there times to be somber and reflective? Sure. But I think if we carefully read the NT, Jesus had a pretty sly sense of humor as well as His serious side.

  2. My dear sister, your post bought tears to my eyes. Joy and the laughter that accompanies it is a privilege of our life in Christ. Study the word joy and let it bubble up in your heart and flow into your relationship.

  3. We were recently at a Lifelong Marriage Seminar in London ON..before Gary spoke the comedian brought some great humour to the night. When we have laughed together as a family, either about something that has happened currently or that something from the family annals, it is so great. At that moment in time you are all on the same page together sharing an experience–there is nothing better!

  4. “We could speak of humor as essential to Christian wisdom…Humor—insofar as it arises from the good, the noble, the excellent and the worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8)—is a sign of faith. How can we laugh unless we know that evil is but for a time? Faith means we can delight in the moment, in the company of friends, in the ironies of life. And we can laugh.”

    This is gold. Though, to deepen it, I think there is a sense in which the Christian laugh is different from the non. The non-Christian can philosophically laugh for a few reasons:

    1) Cynically: “There are so many screwed up things in the world that will never be fixed, all we can do is come to terms with the fact and laugh at it all.”

    2) Epicurean-ally: “If the point of life is pleasure while we live, one life is all we have and there is no justice or after-life, and laughing makes us happy, then we should laugh.”


    3) Gnostically (a number of religions / philosophies hold to this, I just chose Gnosticism as it is the most direct counter to a Christian Worldview): “All the world is inherently good, therefore we can laugh and be happy in this knowledge.” (This is very Buddhist, though thankfully this idea is coming out of popularity due to recent events (Paris, the middle east, Iran, race relations, etc).

    The Christian laugh is so different though. As it is saying: “Things are bad now, there is real evil in the world, however, we know that in the end true justice will be served, redemption will occur, and the world will be “put to right.” Therefore, this knowledge allows us to find joy, laugh, and be happy in our present negative circumstances.”

    Thanks so much for bringing this to light, Gary.

    What’s so interesting about this is it finally allows me to give theological significance to Jesus’s seemingly extreme focus on feasting, drinking, and celebrating life–a point brought up by the Pharisee’s multiple times.

    One can not be happy in the midst of battle, of friends dying, if they know they are ultimately going to lose the war. By knowing the outcome, however, one can celebrate and enjoy life in the midst of evil and suffering. One would think: “How can Jesus be drinking wine and feasting while people are sick and dying and he has the ability to heal them?” But in fact, by instead taking a conscious effort to celebrate (to laugh, per se), he is showing a trust that in the end… all will be healed. To not take this time to celebrate the victory, and enjoy life’s moments, would be to not show faith that in the end all will be restored, therefore there is no ethical way to celebrate while people are sick or dying.

    Though there needs to be balance, as God ultimately redeems creation via his people through the Holy Spirit and therefore his Church needs to be actively working, taking time to celebrate shows a true faith in the victory that lies ahead. It shows an understanding, and a participation with the fact, that in the end God will restore all things–regardless of what we do or what the current situation looks like. But thanks be to God that he chooses to use us to restore the world–even though he doesn’t need to.

    This understanding about “laughter” will definitely make it into my Junior Paper!:

  5. I am challenged by my husbands random comments and his need to make a joke of anything, person or……. It seems like he is addicted to making fun of all things so he can laugh. I can laugh hysterically when I feel safe, but this is odd, self absorbed and reminds of the addictive behavior which reminds me of abusive behavior.

    So I agree, but how to get to a place that is appropriate to let go.

  6. I cannot truly remember the last time I have laughed. Alone or with my man. I have never laughed easily – even the funniest of comedies bring from me a slight smile at best. Food for thought.