Monday, April 23, 2007

Laughter- The Spark of the Soul

Have you ever sat and pictured Jesus laughing? Jesus having a good laugh till he is weak kind of laugh?? Why is that? Most of us have pictured Him praying, preaching, suffering and dying, but what about Jesus laughing? How come in children’s cartoons we see the soft and tender side of Jesus, Jesus smiling and laughing with the children but when it comes to the shows geared towards a more adult audience we don’t see this side? Why is that?

I have heard people speak about the “cultural humor” in some of Jesus’ parables, but I had just never imagined him laughing out loud because something struck him as being funny. Yet, isn't laughter one of the most basic things that makes up our humanity? I believe that Jesus knew how to laugh and did so! I also believe that he fully expects us to do so also.

Why is it that people think once you are “religious” you should go around all serious not smiling or laughing? Yes religion is nothing to be taken lightly but honestly if we are ambassadors of Christ and our faces look like prunes, what sort of advertisement is that? Some folks are downright against humor in religion. For those who think that we are supposed to walk around all somber and clad in sober piety, they have obviously not thought about a Jesus who laughed.

Jesus wanted us to share in his loving and laughing heart. Notice some of what he said about this: “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have many troubling times; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33. If we look through the scriptures we can see references to laughter. A cheerful heart is a good medicine but a downcast spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22. Laughter is even used as a key part of the description of the worthy woman. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25.

I always look for clean humor. I really enjoy laughing and it helps keep my spirits up in what can sometimes be a very troubled world. Our sense of humor is part of what defines who we are. It's hard to be likable, warm or accepting if you can't laugh at the world around you as well as yourself. Laughter occurs when people are comfortable with one another, when they feel open and free. And the more laughter there is, the more bonding occurs within the group. I know for me, one of the things I can say about someone I consider to be my friend is that we can laugh together.

We should try to emulate Jesus not just his sober piety, but also in his ability to laugh. What soap is to the body laughter is to the soul. Laughing should be seen as a pious act when done appropriately. When we laugh it feels good, it lightens the atmosphere around us. Laughter is the brush that sweeps away the cobwebs of the heart. Figure out what makes you laugh and do it. So as Carolyn Birmingham put it so nicely “A smile starts on the lips, A grin spreads to the eyes, A chuckle comes from the belly; But a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles all around.” So be funny every chance you get -- as long as it's not at someone else's expense!