Written in May 2005
HUMOUR IN LIFE AND MINISTRY
My dear bro. Vijay,
About humour…. I think Jesus did use humour in his teaching, but we, because of our cultural backgrounds, do not see it. E.g. a key aspect of the communication of statements like the camel going through the eye of a needle; and beam in the eye is the humour attached to them. In fact Elton Trueblood has written a book called The Humour of Christ which lists the humorous saying and actions of Jesus in Luke—and there are many.
If God created us in his image and if the capacity to create humour and enjoy humour is part of the human make-up, then humour must be good. Does not the Bible say that “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Prov. 17:22)?
However there are some things we have to bear in mind.
1. As so much of the humour is unclean today, people have come to associate humour with uncleanness. I believe Christians need to redeem humour by using clean jokes which are top quality and very funny!
2. There is a time and place for humour. Humour is a very culturally conditioned thing. Therefore people in one culture will often not appreciate humour from another culture. So we must be careful when exercising humour among people of a different culture.
3. Within the Christian church too there are different cultures. People have incorporated certain cultural things which are not essentially a part of Christianity but which have become associated with their practice of Christianity. Some Christian people’s cultural orientation is such that they will not appreciate any humour at all. We would be careful about joking among them. However, often young people from such cultures may find humour very liberating. They may get turned off from Christ because of their parents’ seriousness and it may be surprisingly refreshing for them to see Christians who know how to have good clean fun.
I think the key is to know when and where to joke, and also to see that people understand our style of joking. I use humour sometimes in the pulpit—not in order to use humour, but in order to get my point across. But there have been times when I have used humour with certain people who have not understood that I was joking and felt offended or hurt by what I said. So we must always ask, “Is this appropriate for this audience?”
Just a few thoughts!!
Bless God you brother,