Patrol Your Pleasures
When Jesus frowns on fun
When I ask you to give me an adjective that describes Jesus of Nazareth, what comes to mind for you? How many of you instantly thought of the word fun? Not too many, I imagine, and that's too bad. I say that because there is simply no way to closely read the gospels, or human nature, and not conclude that Jesus Christ lived with a spirit of joy and humor and warmth in whose presence other people genuinely enjoyed themselves.
Have you ever known children to throng around someone who wasn't fun? Yet the Bible pictures Jesus as someone often mobbed by kids. Have you ever known a bunch of working men who'd voluntarily leave their jobs and families to go road tripping with somebody who wasn't any fun? Yet that is precisely what fishermen like Peter, and government workers like Matthew, and political activists like Judas were willing to do for the chance to be with Jesus. Women like Mary and Martha kept the light on in their home, just hoping Jesus might drop by. Burned-out businessmen like Zaccheus climbed trees in hope of meeting him.
People found the teaching of Jesus "fun" to listen to. He regaled people with marvelous images of camels grunting to get themselves through needle eyes, and old women scavenging under tables looking for lost coins. "Did you hear the one about the player from Illinois who got mugged on his way down to the NCAA tournament," Jesus would say. "You'll never guess who stopped to help him. It was that guy, Samaritan, from the Connecticut team." "You're kidding me!" people would roar.
Christ's teaching was filled with humor, satire, and irony; his vision of God and his kingdom was jammed with joy. Jesus described God as an amazing Dad who's willing to forgive unbelievably stupid acts by his kids, ...
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Dan Meyer is pastor of Christ Church of Oak Brook in Oak Brook, Illinois.