Holy Hilarity | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
August 2012

Holy Hilarity

By: Amy Yeary Holmes

A terrible idea emerged in a Bible study group a few weeks ago. Wanting to be fair to all of the participants, I tried my best to hear out the person who brought it up. My ears did not fail me. I heard what I heard. A visitor hailed a recent violent riot carried out by a non-Christian religious group. He suggested that such violence was acceptable, even commendable. His argument buttressed his hope of a violent protest of a current television comedy. This show portrays financially accomplished women mistreating each other under the guise of misused Biblical quotes, false humility and back stabbing gestures of kindness. A violent protest of this show was a terrible idea.

The first level of “terrible” appears at the use of violence. The season of Lent reminds us of the violence that was visited upon Jesus. We are also reminded of the love Jesus demonstrated in the midst of that violence. Following in his great example, if Christians take action let it be of love: visiting the sick and lonely, feeding the hungry, patiently extending our ears and hearts to those the world rejects. Opportunities for love in action saturate the Christian life.

Laughter is another example of love in action. Jesus makes use of humor quite frequently in the New Testament. Unfortunately, we miss the punch lines because we live in a different time and culture. In the book, The Humor of Christ by Elton Trueblood, Trueblood points out how Jesus responded to a personal jab in John 1:43-47. Nathaniel pokes fun at Jesus’ hometown. Jesus responds with a comment about Nathaniel’s keen and honest insight. Just two guys exchanging personal jabs. Not only could Jesus take a joke, but he could dish it out too! The result - Nathaniel follows Jesus. And who wouldn’t want to follow someone who was connected with God and had a good time doing it?

With that thought in mind, how are Christians to respond to political satire cartoonists, comedic takes on church life or my devotional, for example? According to the example of Jesus, the answer is lightly. Of course, there are times to respond seriously. But the best response to humor is usually humor. Easy going joviality gives us the grace to laugh at ourselves. Comedic breaks allow us opportunity to be rejuvenated and to celebrate our imperfections with laughter. This infectious cheer speaks to a judgmental world with giggles of grace and holy hilarity.

Jesus made use of humor, even when slighted. To remove this God given gift from our spiritual repertoire would be truly terrible. In the footsteps of Christ I urge you, laugh, giggle, poke fun, and in doing so, give yourself grace.

Discussion Question: How do I use humor to soften a critical comment toward myself or others? What would the church look like if we laughed at ourselves more?

See more devotions from Amy, and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.