Joy Versus Jokes?


"Has God indeed said...Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep." (Luke 6:25)


Summary

Are disciples of Jesus to be sincere and serious about the things of the Lord and the kingdom of God?

Today's religious leaders are increasingly acting like "secular" comedians and Hollywood "show" personalities.   The "just kidding around", bafoon type of man is the newly emerging personality type of the new, young leaders in the christian religious organizations.

Laughter is not joy, and humor is not of the Lord.   The confusion on this important distinction is both enormous and extremely misleading and damaging, for it portrays God as something He is not.


Introduction:

Scene One

The speaker approaches the podium, and the many people in the large auditorium are excited to hear what the speaker has to say. The speaker is billed as a marvelous person of God. The people have paid about $25 each to hear the speaker, and they believe the speaker is worth every penny. The speakers themselves think they are worth from about $2,000 to over $30,000 per event, and the people pay it.  The speaker starts with some jokes about husbands and wives, and the crowd loves it. The laughter is loud and the people can't get enough. The audience appears to be listening to a secular comedian, for there is essentially no difference. In addition, the humor is just like the speaker's best selling book which brought a great deal of laughter to their soul. The speaker goes on, telling the people how they too may have a great life of laughter and fun, of light heartedness and "joy".

The speaker - amidst their general theme of laughing, lightening up and having fun in life - cleverly weaves into their message, quite a bit about spiritual things and God. It is an unusual admixture of jokes and funny stories along with spiritual insight from their experiences - sometimes even the Scripture is thrown in for effect. Again, the crowd loves it and laughs along with the moments of quasi-seriousness and pondering what the Scripture might mean in between laughs and emotionally touching stories. The people's emotions are tossed to and fro as the speaker cleverly moves from joke to tragedy, from tactful mocking to the Proverbs. What an emotional roller coaster ride, just what the people wanted - their ears are tickled at the presentation. They "just love it". From laughter to tears to laughter, all in the space of about an hour or so.

The people shuffle out of the auditorium, giggling and recounting the speaker's funniest stories. They received what they came to hear - funny, humorous, and proverbial entertainment. The speaker leaves the auditorium, appreciating the people's admiration, the money they received, and looking forward to more comfortable hotels on the circuit, selling more books, and perhaps even a bigger fan club. Among all these things, however, the speakers covets most the testimonials they receive from their audiences on how their 'lighten up and laugh a little' presentations "truly changed my life". They place these on the back covers of their best selling books, and they place the jokes on the inside sleeves.

Scene Two

The speaker sits down amidst his friends, and his friends are eager to hear what he has to say. The speaker has spoken before large crowds in outdoor venues, but most of the crowds had no desire to continue to hear what he has to say. The speaker has spent a great deal of time with those who have come to hear him speak on this particular night - helping them and building relationships with them. They know each other quite well. There are not too many that have come to hear the speaker - just a relatively small room suffices to hold them, not a large auditorium. They too have come to hear him speak, but have not been asked to pay anything for the privilege. Instead this speaker seeks only to give to his listeners - the thought of charging mammon in order for the people to hear what he has to say is unthinkable. The speaker is billed as a very special person by those around him, yet most people think he takes himself way too seriously. The only thing this speaker has to say about laughter is "Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall weep", and thus He is not very popular with the crowds.

This Speaker addresses His audience with a quiet prayer and then begins to tell them many important things. He tells them how to truly love one another by sacrificing for each other. He tells them the Way to heaven and gives them precious promises that they should believe. He tells them about His Father and His great love for them - true sacrificial love. He tells them about His Father's wonderful compassion, mercy and grace, things they really need to understand. He tells them that they can show their love for Him by obeying his commands.

The speaker tells them of the future sorrow they will endure due to their missing Him for a short time, but how that sorrow will be turned to true joy which circumstances will not take away. He tells them that the source of that true joy is his Father and himself and that no one or nothing will be able to produce, nor take away that joy. The speaker, instead of telling them how fun life will be, tells His listeners how most people will hate them, reject them and mistreat them. He tells how others will have fun in mocking them because they are very different - aliens, pilgrims and strangers. He speaks nothing of fun times, shallow laughter, nor does He say anything in a just-kidding-around attitude, which would demonstrate insincerity. He is very sincere and serious in the things He has to say, and in the way He says them. Along with His seriousness, He has a glowing countenance of love and compassion on His face. He has a deep joy and peace that his followers have a hard time understanding. They would rather laugh the serious stuff off, yet they understand deep in their hearts that most of their laughter is just to cover up the problems in their hearts.

The speaker closes the meeting with a prayer for His followers that includes things like evil, truth, sanctification, righteousness and true love. The Speaker leaves the meeting place knowing he is about to be betrayed by all those he just spoke to, and whom he loves. He also knows that in a very short time, he will be brutally mocked and beaten by those who hate Him. He has no place to lay his head - He has been sleeping on a mountainside - but others will lay a crown of thorns upon His head. No thoughts about books to sell, or bigger fan clubs or ways to 'grow a successful ministry' - just a despising the shame of the torture he is about to endure, yet looking past the pain to the joy set before him - which joy is of his Father and not of this earth. A deep and true joy based on his relationship with his Father, and not the circumstances in this world.


I have just drawn a contrast between two ways - the way of laughter and carnality versus the way of Life and true joy. Let us take a closer look at this important issue.

True Joy!

John 15:11, "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."

John 17:13, "But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves."

Oh, how glorious is the joy of the Lord! What can compare to having the joy of the Lord in our hearts? Nothing, absolutely nothing, except His love, which produces that joy and peace!

The most important key to understand the joy of the Lord is that the joy of the Lord is based solely on the following three things:

This is the basis of true joy, and nothing should be added or taken from it.  Tragically, just like many try to add religion onto faith in an attempt to make their way to heaven, many are manufacturing a counterfeit joy and calling it 'the joy of the Lord'. What does this counterfeit joy look like?

What True Joy is Not

Our relationship with the Lord Jesus produces a deep, immovable foundation of joy that circumstances do not effect. In fact, the worse the circumstances, the greater the joy if we yield to faith! The joy of the Lord is not the happiness of the world. The word happiness is based on the same root word from which we get the word "happenstance". As you may know, happenstance speaks of the circumstances we find ourselves in moment by moment. Thus, if at the moment you perceive your circumstances as somehow good, then you will be happy. If, however, at another moment you perceive your circumstance as bad, then you will be unhappy.

The world hide's its hopelessness and seeks to find happiness through material means, pleasurable endeavors, or through a false spiritual system of proving to themselves that they are a good person deserving of heavenly reward. Therefore, if you get more money or a new house or new car or some other material thing, you are happy. Or, if you are going on a vacation that will take you "away" from your daily routine which you dislike, and provide certain excitements or environments that you find pleasurable to your senses, then you will place your hope/happiness in that. Or, if going to the homeless shelter to distribute food, or going to mass seven days a week makes you believe you are a good person, you will be happy when those things are being performed or are accomplished. Or, if you enjoy making fun of other people so as to convince yourself that you are somehow better off then they - not as foolish, stupid, poor, rude, etc. - you're happy when pointing those things out or hearing others do the same. Or perhaps you derive joy primarily from relationships with other people, and your happiness is dependent on a spouse, children, grand children, a relative or friend. Thus, the world's happiness is directly correlated with things, circumstances or people other than the persons of Father God and His Son Jesus. Sadly, this is also true for many believers.

In contrast, the joy of the Lord is not a fickle emotion that passes with each new circumstance, or each new "dream" realized or lost. The joy of the Lord is not associated with people, places, experiences or circumstances in this world. His joy does not leave us in difficult trials - in fact, His joy increases during difficult trials (Luke 6:23)! His joy is not a product of ANYTHING we encounter, or ANYONE, in this world. Our deepest foundation of joy is not to be a product of human relationship. Instead, it is based solely on our relationship with the Lord Jesus, and the realization of his love and compassion towards us, and the glorious salvation in which we abide. The true joy of the Lord is only found in faith fellowship with Him and in believing His promises to us.

One of the wonderful things about joy and gladness, is that whatever is producing those things in our heart will be spoken about with our mouth. Remember Jesus says, "For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45) Thus, if the Lord Jesus - His character, our relationship with Him, or His goodness in dealing with us - is the source of our joy, then guess who will be spoken about with our mouth? Correct, Jesus will be given the praise and glory and honor. Jesus, the source of our joy will be confessed before men. Jesus, our gladness and sweet salvation will be the focus of our words.

If, however, a human relationship or the new car or house or vacation or educational achievement or new position in the church or yesterday's experience or career goal or the latest news story or pet or whatever, is what is spoken about out of your mouth in regard to your happiness, then you are not experiencing the joy of the Lord. Instead, you are placing your heart in those things which will, at best, only bring temporary happiness and which are destined to fail you in some way and in some degree. They certainly will not provide you with joy.

"Laughter" and "Joy" are not biblical synonyms

Recall if you will, before you were saved, how you used to spend your time. Many of us used to spend a great deal of time watching the world box (link to What is in the World Box?). I don't know about the reader, but I used to enjoy the situation comedy's so prevalent on the world box. Every evening, there is a continuous parade of world box shows that have people laughing almost constantly. I used to really enjoy laughing at the most foolish things, but particularly at making fun of someone else. After all, this really feeds the flesh nature in reassuring ourselves that we are not as "stupid" as the next fellow. Isn't it interesting how the world laughs so much? We were taught in the world, and sometimes in the church, that 'laughter is good medicine'. That you "have to laugh to stay sane, or to handle the stresses in life". That "you shouldn't be so serious, you just need to learn how to laugh a little bit", and that we are to "never lose our sense of humor - you'll need it to get through life".

What does your bible say about this? Isn't this rather what the world teaches? "Oh come on, lighten up and laugh a little - don't take yourself so seriously". Surely you have heard these phrases used, used to use them yourself, or even continue to use them. Haven't you, or don't you? Sadly many who don't really know the Lord and His love, joy and peace, use these sayings to batter the person over the head who does find his or her true peace and joy in the Lord. Oftentimes, the weapon used is mocking, and might be stated as something like, "Oh aren't you so holy, somber and pious - so spiritual�that you can't join in with my jesting."

Perhaps you have even heard these phrases used in your religious organization, or heard them from the mouths of your own President/Pastor or favorite mass media "pastor" or teacher? There is a glut of books on the evangelical market, which teach christians to "lighten up and laugh". There are christian teachers who make a living by charging fees to go around the country and entertain people with what is essentially a "learn how to lighten up and laugh" seminar. I'm not talking about the laughter associated with alleged manifestations of the Holy Spirit in charismatic circles. I'm talking about popular christian speakers - you know, the speakers in Scene One at the beginning of this article.  And yes, these people so love money that they will not tell their 'life changing truths' without getting from about $2,000 to over $30,000 to do so.

The core message of these prophets and prophetesses of laughter is one of 'don't take life so seriously, lighten up and laugh about life'. 'After all', the undercurrent message is, 'God has a sense of humor and is a bit of a joker himself and he wants us to be too' - really?  Please provide one Scripture verse to substantiate this claim.

Where is even one example of humor being used by a person in the Bible to make someone laugh?

Where is one didactic teaching in the entire bible saying we are to "have a sense of humor and use it by making people laugh"?

Where is any indication of Jesus or His disciples laughing, let alone in regard to "humor"?

How exactly does "humor" fit with God's character of grace, mercy, perfect holiness and justice and righteousness? Let me assure the reader it does not fit at all.

Usually, the primary biblical teaching people try to use to justify the use of humor is Prov. 17:22, which says, "A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones". The Hebrew word translated "merry" is "sameah", and means, "joyful, glad" (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Ellis Enterprises Inc., 1993)). None of the major Bible versions translate "sameah" as "humor" or "laughter". So, how does this Proverb justify worldly laughter or humor? It does not. Anyone who reads the rest of the Old Testament will know that the gladness spoken of in Proverbs 17:22, and everywhere else for that matter, is produced by a relationship with the gracious and merciful Lord.  It is amazing how one little verse is twisted and used to justify every perverse thing spoken "in jest".

Could the teaching and exhortation by the prophets and prophetesses of humor be coming from someone other than the Lord? Could their claiming that God has a sense of humor be blasphemy? Couldn't these statements be intended to completely degrade of the character of God by rejecting and casting off any vestige of reverence or fear of the Lord? The question that needs serious evaluation is, are these phrases of alleged wisdom from the "lighten up and laugh" folks, from the heavenly Father, or from the Satan and His world? Some serious things to ponder…you can be serious for a few moments and ponder this, right?

Word Studies in the Scripture: Laugh and Laughter

"Laugh" or "Laughter" is an interesting word study in the Scripture. Although this lost American culture associates laughter with something good, the Scripture, in general, does not. The word "laugh" or "laughter" is used some 30 times in the Scripture (New King James Version). Of that thirty times laugh is used, only four times is it used in a potentially positive context (Gen. 21:6; Job 8:21; Psa. 126:2; Ecc. 3:4). In addition, those four times it is used in a potentially positive context - where it is associated with real joy and not worldly humor - all occur in the Old Testament. There is not a single positive use of the word "laugh" in the entire new testament, with the exception of Luke 6:21. Luke 6:21 speaks of a pure laughter, again, associated with joy in the Lord, which is only deemed appropriate once we are in heaven, out of this wicked world and without our sinful natures.

The normal context and usage of laugh and laughter has unbelief (Gen. 17:17, 18:13), mocking (2 Chron. 30:10; Neh. 2:19; Psa. 52:6), scorn (2 Kings 19:21; Job 5:22, 9:23, 22:19, 41:29; Psa. 2:4, 37:13, 80:6; Isa. 37:22; Ezek. 23:32), vindication (Psa. 59:8; Prov. 1:26), pretentiousness (Prov. 14:13), vanity (Ecc. 2:2, 7:6), foolishness (Prov. 29:9) and dissipation (Ecc. 7:3, 10:19; Luke 6:26; James 4:9) as the primary meaning of the terms. This truth needs deep pondering. Did you understand that reader? How much of our laughter and insincere jesting has these sinful motivations behind them? What do our little worldly jokes have to do with the joy of the Lord? Do we laugh when we don't like uncomfortable truth or to evade the truth altogether? If so, then aren't we despising the truth that God wants to use to truly heal and restore us?

Aren't these facts somewhat amazing when so many "evangelical Christians" are making a career out of making people laugh? Isn't it somewhat important that the New Testament never records Jesus, His apostles or disciples laughing? I'm sure smiling associated with a joy in the Lord was a normal countenance for the Lord and His disciples, but this is not laughing based on worldly kidding-around, mocking, jesting and insincerity. No doubt when the Lord and his disciples were rejoicing in the love and salvation of the Father, they had beautiful and glowing smiles on their faces.   I am equally sure their normal countenance was one of deep seriousness for the things of the Kingdom.

Attitude or Countenance

Christians often look to the bible for guidance on how they carry themselves as they seek to understand God. The scripture uses the term "countenance" to describe what we generally call "attitude". It is that part of our communication - the emotional element manifest in facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact and body language - in addition to and supporting the actual content of our words. Let us look at some uses of "countenance" in the scripture.

Gen. 4:5-6 says, "Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?"

Gen. 31:2, 5 says, "And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before…'I see your father's countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me'".

Here, the countenance is early described in the bible as the attitude of the person - what the person is communicating with both facial/body language, mannerisms and words. In these two cases in Genesis, anger, and bitterness due to pride and perhaps envy caused an attitude of general hostility which was communicated through people's countenance.

Countenance is used many times in the Old Testament to describe people's attitudes, mannerisms and means of communication. Let us now take a brief look at a few instances of usage in the New Testament.

Matt. 6:16 says, "Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward."

Matt. 28:3 says, "His countenance (the angel's) was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow."

2 Cor. 3:7-8 says, "But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?"

Rev. 1:16 says, "He (Jesus) had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength."

As you can see, the New Testament uses the word primarily to describe facial and body expressions. What is clear is that it is used to describe the attitude and projection of the soul and emotions by mannerisms, and ways of carrying oneself. As we have already noted, the ways of communicating one's heart-set primarily without words.

The Bible's Description of Proper Attitude

Is there any place in the scripture where the countenance or attitude of the supposed leader's of the church is given and described? In First Timothy and Titus, the Paul provides his opinion on the model countenance for 'church leaders' - elders and deacons. Let us take a look at his words.

1 Tim. 3:1-13, 15 says, "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules is own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be testing; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus…I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

The highlighted words are, "temperate, sober-minded, reverent, not double-tongued, pure conscience". These words paint an clear picture of what the countenance of christian leaders ought to be. Please notice, these are terms that deal clearly with attitude or countenance as well as the words that flow from such an attitude. We will take a closer look at these terms shortly.

Titus 1:7-8, "For an overseer must be…sober-minded, just, holy, self controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict."

Titus 2:1-3, 6-7, But as for you [Titus], speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior…Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you."

Let us take a closer look at these biblical words describing countenance or attitude.

"Reverent". Semnos in Greek. King James renders the word, "grave". Vines uses the terms serious, grave, venerable, august, as synonyms. Under the heading "GRAVE", Vines says, "The word we want is one in which the sense of gravity and dignity is combined. Cremer describes it as denoting what inspires reverence and awe, and says that semnos and hosious , "holy consecrated", are only secondary designations of the conception of holiness. "The word points to seriousness of purpose and to self-respect in conduct" (Moule) (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Ellis Enterprises Inc., 1993)). 1 Tim. 3:8, 11; Titus 2:2.

"Sober-Minded". Sophron in Greek. Denotes of sound mind. Temperate, sober, discreet. 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8; 2:2, 5.

"Temperate". Nephalios in Greek. King James renders the word, "vigilant". 1 Tim. 3:2, 11; Tit. 2:2

"Double-Tongued". Dilogos in Greek. Strong says, "equivocal; telling a different story" (Strong’s Greek New Testament Words (Ellis Enterprises Incorporated, 1993)). Vines says, "saying the same thing twice or given to repetition. Saying one thing to one person and giving a different view of it to another, double-tongued". 1 Tim. 3:8. (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Ellis Enterprises Inc., 1993)).

Let us see how a contemporary dictionary defines some of these key terms which denote the countenance of a leader of the church.

"Reverent" or reverence is used the most, six times, in describing the countenance of 'church leaders' or 'mature believers'. The dictionary defines reverence as, "A feeling of profound awe and respect and often love; veneration. An act of showing respect, esp. an obeisance" (The American Heritage Dictionary: Second College Edition). Perhaps if we were to try to find one contemporary term that would best denote someone with a reverent attitude towards the Lord, that term would be "serious". The great prophet Isaiah saw the Lord, and his attitude was anything but silly, funny, half-cocked, light-hearted, joking or jesting (Isa. 6:1-6). The apostle John also saw the Lord, and he was not moved to kidding around with his buddies in the Lord's presence (Rev. 1:12-17).

"Sober" is not used in the above quoted scriptures in the sense of not intoxicated, and thus is often rendered "sober-minded". The dictionary defines the correct sense of sober, in our above context, as, "Straightforward in character; serious. Plain or subdued; not garish. Devoid of frivolity, excess, exaggeration or speculative imagination." (The American Heritage Dictionary: Second College Edition).

"Temperate" is defined as, "Exercising moderation and self-restraint". You don't get the picture of big laughs and joking mixed with tears and emotional swings.

"Double-Tongued" is not defined in the contemporary dictionaries, but it defines itself. I believe the best contemporary phrase that catches the purest meaning of "double-tongued" would be the ubiquitous phrase, "just kidding". How the world loves to stick demeaning jabs at your heart and follow up the "good hearted" jabs with, with the little phrase "just kidding". Surely, this is double-tongued. The tearing each other down is hidden behind the smile, the laughing and the words, "oh, come on, lighten up - you don't have to take it so seriously". And, of course, if you don't go along with the perverse communication style of double-tongued digs, you are condemned as, "not having any sense of humor" or mocked with something like, "aren't you sooo spiritual…". Does this sound familiar to you?

Sincerity and Seriousness Versus Hollow Laughter and the Chaff

Let us take one more look at a critical contrast between a countenance the bible commends and worldly countenance.

Hebrews 10:22 says, "let us draw near with a true [or sincere] heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."

The dictionary defines "Sincere" as, "Not feigned or affected; true; presenting no false appearance; honest; not hypocritical". Listed synonyms include, "natural, unaffected, unfeigned, wholehearted, heartfelt." (The American Heritage Dictionary: Second College Edition).

The dictionary defines "Serious" as, "Grave in character, quality or manner. Said and done in earnest; sincere. Concerned with important rather than trivial matters; weighty. Marked by considerable effort or devotion." (The American Heritage Dictionary: Second College Edition).

Let us now contrast the worldly terms with the two terms defined above, namely sincerity and seriousness…

Insincere means, "Not sincere; hypocritical."

Joke includes, "Something not to be taken seriously; triviality. An object of amusement or laughter; laughingstock". Synonyms include, "joke, jest, witticism, quip, crack, wisecrack, gag".

To Jest means, "Something said or done to provoke amusement and laughter. A jeering remark; taunt. An object of ridicule; laughingstock…To utter scoffs…To make fun of."

Humor means, "The quality of being amusing or comical. The ability to perceive, enjoy, or express what is comical or funny."

Funny means, "Causing laughter or amusement. Intended or designed to amuse…tricky or deceitful."

Fun means, "A source of enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure: Clowns are fun…to behave playfully; joke."

Silly means, "Showing a lack of good sense; stupid. Frivolous."

Giddy means, "Frivolous and light hearted."

Frivolous means, "Unworthy of serious attention; trivial. Inappropriately silly."

If you spend just a little time and effort to examine the two sets of contrast words, and you have eyes to see, you will see another deep sign of the apostasy. Contrast "sincerity" and "seriousness" versus all the other words to follow, and you will see the sick, anemic and powerless countenance of many calling themselves prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers.

Conclusions

Perhaps this article will bring more wrath than any other on this web site, since it exposes one of the most popular, beloved and widely accepted falsehoods in churchianity. Sadly, I know I will get responses saying I must be a somber, solemn, stick-in-the-mud, pious fellow who, of course, has no sense of humor. Well, praise the Lord! Those who know me know that characterization to be false. Sadly, those who level those charges against me are more than likely doing so out of conviction.

More importantly, chasing after "joy" has become an idol in itself in the church. But the "joy" being chased after is not even the joy described in the bible and in this article. Rather, it is a shallow counterfeit based on things other than the Person of Messiah, and which brings with it a worldly laughter. Remember the two scenes which opened this article? In this the great apostasy before Messiah's return, many in churchianity are getting caught up in Scene One rather than abiding in Scene Two.

However, what is more damaging than the overt laughing prophets and prophetesses cris-crossing the country, is the fact that your local religious organization leaders are more than likely ensnared by the falsehoods in this article. I see young men taking the spiritual title of authority "Pastor" quite frequently, who seem to feel like they must mirror the world's comedians when addressing the people. Just recently, one young President/Pastor felt the need to use a Hollywood character's (Rocky, the boxer) heavy macho voice when speaking Jesus' Words from the pulpit, saying, "well, Jesus probably did not say it that way, but then again, maybe He did!". The audience (congregation) chuckled, and the Entertainer/Pastor exclaimed, "man, I'm having fun up here". The next week, the President/Pastor's sidekick, a Vice President/Pastor, felt the need to use Frank Sinatra's words to get the people to laugh. How utterly tragic. And the leaders of the church wonder why the Spirit is not working to change people's lives. "Oh, lighten up�".

If you are a member of a religious organization whose leaders are ensnared in the flesh on this point of worldly humor, then I exhort you to make a copy of this article and share it with those leaders. This issue, I think, is so deeply embedded in this lost culture, and therefore in "the church", that it will take a miracle of God to bring people to repentance over it. But take heart, our precious and mighty Lord is in the practice of working miracles!

Please, have the courage to change your ways so that the Spirit may work through you in a more powerful way than perhaps ever before. For just as faith and fear cannot co-exist in a person's heart simultaneously, so laughter and conviction cannot either. Walk in the true joy of the Lord, and leave the "joy" of the world far behind!


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