For several years now I have been submitting this little column. At times it’s serious and at others it’s goofy. But it has always been a privilege. I believe my contribution has been to challenge the notion of what the church is and to ask what the church does; especially when it’s not Sunday (hence Andrew Faiz’s clever title, The Other Six Days). In recent times, there has been a heavy exploration of Christian satire. That is not accidental. I believe that satire is a powerful tool of introspection. In particular, Christian satire teaches us to take God more seriously and at the same time to not take ourselves too seriously. What we laugh at when we laugh at ourselves makes us examine why, and so we examine ourselves and our beliefs. Not to put too fine a point on it but… it is good to laugh.
This reality is not at all lost on the scriptures. The Bible is full of comedy, word play, political satire, insults and innuendo. It’s funny when Elijah suggests to the Baal worshippers that their god is not answering their prayers because he is on the potty. (1 Kings 18:27) In a line which might easily be applied to your local teenagers, Proverbs 19:24 states: “Lazy people take food in their hands but can’t be bothered to even lift it to their mouths.” Tell me that insult didn’t make you smile a little bit? The parables of Jesus, too are filled with oddities at which his original audience no doubt laughed.
In 1 Samuel 21:15-16, David pretends to be insane in front of the king of Gath who responds with: “Am I so short of crazies that you have to bring to me another?” That’s funny, people! Go read the 22nd chapter of 1 Kings. It’s hilarious! In it, Israel’s king needs to know if he will win a battle but refuses to see the prophet saying, “I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.” This is then confirmed after a bit of trickery at the end of the story as verse 18 tells us. It concludes: “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad!” Go read that story and tell me it isn’t funny!
Or what about Jonah? We are talking about a book where absolutely everything obeys the Lord. From the pagan sailors to the wind and waves, to the rain and the fish, to the “evil Ninevites,” they all obey the Lord. Even the plants and bugs obey the Lord! You know who doesn’t? Our hero, Jonah! He’s an angry, whiney, crybaby. Read Jonah again with that in mind. It will be a whole new book to you. It’s comedy and faith and introspection all wrapped up in a nice little ball. It’s life. It’s The Other Six Days.
So what is the church and what does it do all week? That’s for you to find out. Delve into God’s word. Practice what you preach. Ask questions. Don’t have orthodoxy (right belief) without orthopraxy (right actions) and don’t have either of those without orthokardia (a right heart). Take God more seriously and yourself less so. And for the love of God’s people, Presbyterians don’t need to have steel in our veins where blood should be. Crack a smile once in a while.