Monday, February 12, 2007

Two Gifts

We have been created in God’s image so that we have the ability to relate to Him.
Even though God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours we can learn to understand Him because he has given us intellectual capacity to do so and we share His emotional traits… love, hate, joy, anger, peace, patience, sadness, longing.
But there are two ‘gifts’ that God has given to man that He Himself does not have…. sexuality and a sense of humor.

God Himself is not a sexual being , nor are His angels and the bible tells us that man too will have no need of this gift in the life to come.
Sex is a gift that God gave man for his earthly life - as an expression of the special intimacy between a man and a woman, the means by which man would proliferate and thirdly for a very special reason that Paul hints at it when he talks in Ephesians 5:32 about the mystery of a man and woman being one flesh. But then he adds …'the mystery I speak of concerns Christ and the church.' I believe that in our eternity there will be something extremely intimate and special between us and the Lord that is the heavenly translation of the sexual relationship between husband and wife. It is one of the ‘ above that we could think or imagine’ glories of the life to come.
I don’t think many would argue with the above statements, but I think it may be more difficult to convince many today that God does not have a sense of humor. I so often hear flippant remarks about God’s sense of humor, and I bite my tongue.
Why is it impossible that God has a sense of humor?
One reason is because God is holy and perfect and so all of His attributes can be stretched to the extreme and still remain pure. God’s love is infinite in scope… who can stand in the day of His wrath… His patience is far beyond human capacity…. but stretch a sense of humor even in human terms and it becomes ridiculous.
Think of someone who has a sense of humor so over-developed that he cannot be serious about anything. Is this a person you would go to if you needed comfort or understanding or advice? Studies have shown that some of the loneliest people are clowns – they spend their life making people laugh but they themselves are left empty, unable to develope meaningful relationships.

One of the best definitions of what makes us laugh is “We laugh at what is out of focus.” Isn’t that true? We laugh when something other than what we expected occurs…. that is why babies laugh when you play peek-a-boo with them.. They see you disappear and they expect you are gone… then suddenly you reappear and they laugh. A joke is funny only the first time you hear it.. once you know the punch line you are no longer moved to laughter. So , by this definition, what in the sight of an all-knowing God would ever be ‘out of focus’ or unexpected?
It is interesting that the bible does record God laughing… four scripture references in all …
(Ps. 59:8, Prov. 1:26, Ps. 2:4, Ps. 37:13) and in every one God laughs at the wicked. He will have the last laugh in the day of judgment when all their human wisdom will be brought to naught. Is evil not the only thing that would be ‘out of focus’ for God , in the sense that evil is the absence of God ?

So if God does not have a sense of humor, then why did He give it to man?
It has been said that when you laugh with someone you bring them to your level… how true that is. How comfortable we immediately are with someone we laugh with, even someone we have just met.
Can you imagine how difficult our life would be if we could never laugh? Without the ability to laugh at ourselves and with each other our life at times would be unbearable. Used in the right way, at the right time and for the right reason, humor lightens our load.
I remember a time when my RA was especially debilitating - I was standing in front of my mirror looking at my disheveled hair and was unable to grasp my brush, much less lift it to try to try to comb my hair. I called my husband and asked if he could please brush my hair. He came and was more than happy to comply…. but I will forever have the picture imprinted on my memory of him ever so awkwardly attempting to comb my hair. It struck me so hilariously funny I burst out laughing.. He said, “How can you laugh?” but he had to join in and the memory of that moment still brings a smile to my face.
“A merry heart doeth good like medicine!” ( Prov.17:22)

Can God use the gift of humor He gave us in His relationship with us ? I believe He does.

I once , years ago, was very upset by something – I can’t remember what it was – but I remember I was too distressed to go to bed even though my husband begged me to come. It was late, and finally he gave up and when to bed by himself. I took my bible and sat down in the living room to try to calm down. I flipped my bible open randomly and my eyes fell on the following verse in Ecc. 4:11 “Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?”
It really felt like God had spoken audibly…. my tension melted, surprised laughter bubbled up in its place and I went to bed to tell my husband about my divine rebuke and we laughed together. You might ask, “Doesn’t that prove God has a sense of humor?” I would say no… but rather that it proves that God as my heavenly Father knows and understand me . Do we not sometimes do the same with our own children – make them laugh to help them be obedient?

Just as sex will have its true fulfillment in heaven , so also our gift of humor will translate into joy that will fill all eternity.
We see this joy spoken of in relation to Jesus, “For the joy set before Him , he endured the cross…” (Heb.12:2) and also “ …. in that hour he rejoiced in Spirit” ( Matt. 10:21)

It does not take much observation – in fact it is often difficult to keep our eyes averted - to see how Satan has taken these two gifts and twisted them into something ugly and perverted wherever man has given him space.
Let us rather, as God’s children, cherish and use these two gifts in the way that He intended – and always in a way that will honor Him. .

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