Last week I had the opportunity to talk with dozens of people from my Church. Some of the people have gone from total strangers to friends in the last few weeks. The longer I know people the more I am willing to joke with them. I also notice the more I joke with them the more willing they are to joke with me.
On Wednesday I was joking with a few people and then a thought hit me very clearly. One of the things that I love about being a part of a Christian community is that we can joke with each other without the fear of evil intent. People in Church may joke about my growing bald spot or my round belly or my grammatical errors and I know that most of them are just having fun. They are not being mean or hurtful. Yes, there are a few exceptions to the rule. There are some people who come into Church full of bitterness and anger who are always trying to get a “dig” into other people. But I have found these people are the exception to the rule. Generally most of the people in the Church know their motives and either ignore them or avoid taking it personally.
Honestly, one of the reasons I love hanging around with some Church people is that I can laugh and joke without fear. I believe that joy is a deep-rooted Christian virtue and if you have joy it will show on your face and in your words. Laughter will be in your voice and humor will be on your lips. One favorite old preacher of mine used to say that “laughter is the surest sign of the grace of God in our lives.” In other words, when we realize the grace of God in our lives we will no longer fret over all of our little mistakes and shortcomings, rather we will shrug our shoulders and laugh.
Several years ago they made the gospel of Matthew into a movie. It was taken word for word from the New international Version and was called the Visual Bible. While it had some flaws because of its lack of “harmony” with the other gospels it had one major strength. Jesus was happy. He smiled and laughed. I liked the idea of a serious Jesus in some arenas of life, but I equally like Jesus who is full of joy at the proper times too.
The Church is a lot of things. It is trying to accomplish a great deal in this world. One thing I firmly believe is that the Church is to be a place where people can enjoy life together. I hope you find the Church to be such a place. I know I have.