One of the things I loved about working out at Curves was the fun we had getting fit. While we were sweating and stretching ourselves we were also laughing. I remember a time when we seemed to be enjoying each other more than usual. In the middle of our laughter one of the ladies quipped, “If my husband knew how much fun I was having he wouldn’t let me come here.” In the moment I laughed it off, but the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. Reflecting on it now, I think I’m beginning to understand why.
This woman’s husband seems a bit like a parishioner in the last church I pastored. He was of the mindset that there was no room for laughter in church. This typically put us at odds. I’m a giggler. I laugh a lot. I laugh loudly. I snicker. I love to make people laugh. I’ve been told that laughter is good medicine, so the people around me should be healthier.
I think that Jesus had a very intense personality. I think the scriptures portray him with very real emotions. This same Jesus who overturned the tables of the money changers wept with his friends and with the widow whose son had died. Jesus was moved with compassion when he looked out over the crowds. He felt their helplessness and hopelessness. But he was also invited to weddings and dinner parties. People wanted to be around Jesus. He knew how to be with children.
I believe Jesus laughed. I love the pictures of Jesus where he is smiling and laughing. There are far more pictures of Jesus looking solemn and serious and some think that’s the only way he should be portrayed. Salvation is serious business after all. And I couldn’t agree more, it is serious, but did you know that there are over 240 references to joy in the Bible? Job speaks of laughter being restored. David prayed that God would restore the joy of his salvation. Jesus reminded his disciples that he had come to make their joy complete. James picks up on this and tells us to count it ALL joy! Good and bad, pain and pleasure, win or lose. The joy of the Lord is my strength.
There is room for joy in your journey. There is room for laughter at church. You can enjoy your relationship with God. Go ahead and celebrate life. It doesn’t make the bad things go away, but it does take away their power over you. It’s a little like working out at Curves. Laughter doesn’t mean we won’t sweat, but while we do we will find reason to laugh, to rejoice, to enjoy. So thank God for laughter today and make sure to share some with someone you love.