Are you capable of laughing at yourself? If not you are missing out on a great opportunity. It is amazing how therapeutic and revealing laughter can be.
Laughter is not only an aspect of common grace but it has redemptive import as well. Consider Jesus following statement:
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
– Matthew 18:1-4
Although laughter is not mentioned here, it is implied that becoming more like a child means laughing more. The fact that Jesus mentions humility almost certainly confirms this. Laughing at all but especially laughing at oneself requires a great deal of humility.
One humorist that has of late caught my attention is Jonathan Acuff. The humor that Acuff provides is especially entertaining and challenging because it is informed by a distinctly Cristian worldview and experience. In one short essay, Acuff can take you from laughing to reflecting on the authenticity and fervor of your faith in Christ. Acuff in his painstakingly descriptive style has raised humor to a higher level that results in a better understanding of ourselves in God’s great narrative.
Here is an excerpt from Acuff’s blog Stuff Christian Like:
Although the pirate phenomenon is making a spirited comeback, I’m almost positive some of us have some backwards opinions of Africa. But you know what’s even worse?
People who become experts on Africa after a 6-day mission trip.
This is the time of year when they start coming back from trips and regaling us with their tales of massive missionary magnitude. Soon they will return from a short hop overseas. How do you spot them in your church? How do you see them coming? Here’s how:
6 ways to tell your friend has become an “overnight missionary expert.”
1. They temporarily wear some wicked awesome sandals.
Mission trip sandals, something I’ve chronicled before, come in two varieties: woven and rubber. The woven ones appear to made of some sort of rope and actually look painful. My wife and I saw a guy with bloody feet wearing these the other night. He was limping. The rubber ones are more comfortable but only come in two colors: rainbow and bright rainbow.
2. They use the phrase, “So American.”
This might be the worst one on the list because it attempts to shame you for something you’ve done. Sometimes you’ll see it in the comments on SCL. I’ll write about money and then someone will immediately say, “That is so American to think that way.” Or they might use the variation, “Well, in the West …” What they usually don’t tell you is that they spent all 32 years of their life, minus the six days they were on a mission trip, living in Ohio. Which is in America.
3. They pretend there’s a household need for a machete.
87% of all men who go on mission trips buy machetes. Like how I felt when I saw two Lamborghinis racing on the highway the other night, something about a machete makes you feel like an 8-year old little boy again. You get giddy with the possibility of actually owning a sword. But if your friend starts using it to whack away at yard work, they might be taking it a little too far.
4. They convert everything into foreign currency.
Never go to a Starbucks with a mission trip expert. They will inevitably look at your four dollar coffee and mumble, “Hope that week’s worth of wages is delicious.” To be kind, respond with a simple, “I’ll pray for you.” To be a jerk say, “I’ll stop drinking coffee when your wife stops wearing that blood diamond.” (That’s a horrible thing to say, because ultimately both issues need to be addressed.)
5. They use the phrase, “used to live.”
I spent about 25 days or so in Costa Rica. Once at a dinner party, I told someone I used to “live in Costa Rica.” My wife, who was unfortunately within hearing distance, burst into laughter. I hadn’t lived there. I had visited there. Briefly. If your friend uses weird math to pretend they were on the trip for a long time, like when the ex-coach of Tennessee said he really enjoyed “the 13 months at Tennessee,” you know someone is faking it. (As if saying “13 months” makes folks feel less like you were jumping ship after a year. Might as well convert it into weeks and say “I was a great coach here for 56 weeks.”)
6. They are constantly dragging you out to restaurants.
My wife and I once lived in a fancy neighborhood outside of Boston. On our first day there, our neighbor, a professor, came over and said, “Do you guys like Southern Cambodian cuisine.” Now clearly, if you know me, you know I prefer Southeastern Cambodian. I actually just order by longitude and latitude, I am that cultured. Not really, but if your friend suddenly refuses to go to Applebee’s because “they don’t have good breadfruit,” be worried.
I write this list not because I hate missionary experts, but because I’ve been this guy. I went to Dominica once, probably one of my top three favorite Lesser Antilles, and that entire list happened except for number 6. I had rainbow sandals. I found three machetes in my garage yesterday. And I once said, “Our Western culture doesn’t have a mourning process that leads to real healing.” I wrote this list because I am this list.
Jonathan also has a wildly popular book entitled Stuff Christians like. You can purchase a copy here.