Maybe Being the Light of the World Means Laughing More

If you are paying attention, you could believe the world is a dark place. Wars, disasters, political crises, and supersonic missiles fill our daily news. 

Bad things have been around since the fall from the garden, but lately, it has somehow felt worse. If you let it–like I often do–it can be overwhelming.

I struggle with Jesus’ declaration to that group on the mountain that they were, and we are, the light of the world. As Christians, how do we share hope in this dark world? 

Maybe we should laugh more.

Laughter can have a bad rap, because it can feel disrespectful–as if laughing is glossing over bad things, making light of the pain and ignoring the brokenness. 

But laughter is a form of intimacy and comfort with others. Christian broadcaster Steve Brown says he has never been to a wake where there wasn’t laughter. 

At my mother’s funeral recently, I told funny stories about her, me and the ladies from the American Legion Auxiliary. I did this to honor her and because that is what she would have wanted. There is something very tender and caring when we, in love, gently laugh at our own humanness.

Laughter also connects us. I spend a lot of time laughing at my own jokes, but laughter is best in a group. When we laugh together, we connect and share ourselves.

“You thought that was funny, too? I thought I was the only one who thought that.”

Certainly, some tragedies are so extreme that laughter is unfathomable at the time. Those situations require space, grace, time, and heavenly power before laughter will return. But I have also known people for whom laughter is part of their recovery.

Laughter can also be holy.

Plenty of scriptures call for Godly fear and reverence. Proverbs is pretty firm about the end game for the mocker, for instance. 

Yet other verses laud laughter. The psalmist says God laughs, for instance. “But the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming” (Psalm 37:13 NIV). 

In Genesis 17:19, God tells Abraham and Sarah their old age is not a hindrance to childbirth, naming their future son “Issac. The name means “he laughs” in Hebrew. 

Paul invokes “foolishness” in his first letter to the Corinthians to show how oppositional Christianity is to the world’s ways. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV). Sacrificing for others and focusing on the eternal is mockery to a world that prides itself on self-promotion and self-gratification. 

In his book, “What Makes Life Worth Living,” author W. Phillip Keller wrote that laughter demonstrates our trust in God: “Honest, deep, sincere laughter is, for God’s person… a way of giving vent to the deep inner joy that comes from truly knowing God as the loving Father who cares for us. Inherent in the very fact of laughing there lies a profound declaration that our confidence is in Christ our beloved Friend.”

“My laughter, therefore, is not to mask dark tragedy; it is a triumph over trouble.”

Maybe you are not inclined to laugh. I am thinking of my first-grade teacher, who never laughed, even at the uproarious things I did in class. 

If you need help, start with the joy of the Lord: “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126: 2-3, NIV).

From there, it’s just a matter of finding something funny and sharing it. Whether it’s the Internet, a clever joke, or your own foibles, there are funny things all around.

Jesus calls us to be the light of the world, shining God’s glory: “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV).

Keller said it this way: “When in sincerity, honesty, and kindness we bring smiles and fun and good cheer into our human encounters, a bridge has been built over which our love, compassion, and care can pass to others. They will see we are joyous, jolly, contented people in whom something of the very life of Jesus Christ is very evident.”

Regardless of the world’s condition, our relationship with Jesus gives us the foundation and security to be fools to the world. It seems like a good idea to share that. 


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