For a Good Time…

Think of the words we use to describe God—holy, omnipotent, faithful, loving, and so forth. We’ve all seen the lists and heard the sermons. The whole business of describing God seems so serious. We should show our respect, after all. But how often do we think of God as having a sense of humor? Does God ever laugh? Is God… fun?

If we’re truly made in the image of God—and the Bible tells us that we are—then our ability to laugh implies that He laughs too. So why don’t we ever talk about this aspect of His personality?

Warthog_DenverZoo_20091007_LAH_3369There’s a difference between taking God seriously, which we should, and assuming that God is always serious. Yet, all I have to do is look around to see God’s sense of humor. What was He thinking when he designed the warthog, for example? Or a hammerhead shark? Or us?

Then there’s what Pete and I call the “party tithe.” Check out Deuteronomy 14:22-26. God tells the Israelites to save up their tithes, and then every three years go to Jerusalem and spend it all on what sounds like a big party:

Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.

Imagine spending one tenth of your yearly income on one big bash! And that’s just one of the times of celebration God ordained for His people.

We talk about Christianity being a relationship, and that, according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” I believe that God created us because He had all this love within the Trinity, and He wanted to share it further. He longs to hang out with us. Sometimes, that means just having fun together. Who wants to be around someone who is serious all the time?

Of course, God’s idea of a good time is what we would call “good, clean fun.” In Ephesians 5:4 Paul exhorts us, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” A bit later, he tells us, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, ….” (Ephesians 5:18)

I often sense God’s joy and delight when I’m out birding. It’s as if He can’t wait to show me what He’s made. “Look at this warbler! Isn’t it amazing? Do you like the way I combined the colors? Look how dainty the beak is. I made it so we can enjoy it together!”

I can clearly see the fun side of God in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. Do you remember the scene where Lucy is playing with Aslan? It’s in fifteenth chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Aslan has just been resurrected, and He and Lucy are so full of joy they have to let it out. The result is what Lewis describes as a romp:

“‘Oh, children,’ said the Lion, ‘I feel my strength coming back to me. Oh, children, catch me if you can!’ He stood for a second, his eyes very bright, his limbs quivering, lashing himself with his tail. Then he made a leap high over their heads and landed on the other side of the Table. Laughing, though she didn’t know why, Lucy scrambled over it to reach him. Aslan leaped again. A mad chase began. Round and round the hill-top he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs. It was such a romp as no one had ever had except in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind.”

We Christians are often very good at being serious, and there is certainly a time and place for introspection, repentance, and solemn appreciation of the sacrifice God has made for us. However,  sharing God’s joy is also a way to worship him.

Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. (Deuteronomy 16:14-15)

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