An Entrée of Humility With a Side of Humor Please

"'Never lose a sense of humor about yourself.' Perhaps that line ought to be engraved on a plaque and placed on the back of the pulpit, alongside the traditional quotation from John, "We would see Jesus." The Johannine quote would remind us to take the task of preaching the gospel of Christ seriously; the other phrase would encourage us not to take ourselves too seriously while we are doing that task. Moreover, a sense of humor in worship is not only a sign of humility but also of the gospel's liberating power. 'With Easter,' states Moltmann, 'the laughter of the redeemed... begins.' because God in Christ has broken the power of sin and death, Christian congregations and their preachers are free to laugh at themselves, and they can also laugh at the empty gods of pride and greed. They can mock hell and dance on the grave of death and sin."
- The Witness of Preaching by Thomas G. Long

Long is speaking specifically to preachers in the context of this excerpt, but I might suggest the same thing about so much of life. How often do we take ourselves too seriously? And what kind of consequences do these kinds of negative thinking have on those around us? Family? Friends? Co-workers? 

There is a tension that exists everyday between paying close attention to the details and not getting hung up on the details. Every little thing we do is infinitely important. We are constantly setting precedents in our lives and in our surrounding environment by the actions that we do and do not take. Every dotted 'i' and crossed 't' in life matters a great deal, but at the very same time it is true that whether we dot an 'i' or cross a 't' does not really matter that much. We often cause ourselves to feel a great deal of stress and anxiety over the small decisions of life when taking life so seriously is not necessary. The world will continue to spin on its axis regardless of our successes and failures. Thus, the question becomes, how do we navigate through the foggy atmosphere of our lives with the tension that exists between the importance of not undervaluing the details of life and not overvaluing them?

I think Long's exhortation to preachers is helpful for thinking about this tension that exists in life. We ought not take ourselves too seriously because in doing so we display our utter lack of humility. 'To be human' seems to me to be our ultimate purpose in life. When we understand that we are human, we put God in his right place as our creator and sustainer, and we put ourselves in our right place as God's creation and make him the source of our own value. If our value comes from the fact that we are made in the image of God rather than from our own successes and failures, then we will be able to laugh with joy at both our successes and failures in life. In other words, if we walk with a posture of humility, then our faces will reflect that humor evident amidst the tension that we live in. We will finally be able to laugh at the things that once scared us and gave us stress and anxiety. So I think I would like to order an entrée of humility with a side of humor please. That should tide me over until we reach the point when we would see Jesus face to face.

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