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The Fruit of the Spirit Is Not Lemons
The world might laugh to forget, but what does laughter have to do with being a Christian?

Yesterday a gentleman phoned to inform me that he did not like my sense of humour, that these are the last days, that I need to shape up, sit up, and smarten up. "What does laughing have to do with being a Christian?" he asked.

"Is that you, Dad?" I replied.

He was not amused. So I got his address and stuffed a potato in his exhaust pipe. Not really. But the thought did occur to me. There are two people I do not trust: those who laugh all of the time, and those who laugh none of the time.

While speaking at a retreat, I noticed one couple sitting in the front row. The wife laughed at all my jokes. She was a brilliant woman, I thought! But her husband looked so sour he looked like he could suck buttons off a sofa. Perhaps he's the same gentleman that phoned me, I'm not sure. But after the final session, his wife came up to me, beaming. "Thanks!" she said, "I haven't seen my husband laugh this hard in years."

My wife's sister Miriam provides a startling contrast. Miriam suffers from Huntington's disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes rapid mental and physical deterioration. Doctors who treat the disease are amazed at how slowly it is growing in her body. "Miriam's attitude," a doctor told her and her husband Jim, "has reduced the symptoms of Huntington's by 50 percent. It seems your belief in a higher power has helped you."

Miriam smiled. "That would be God," she laughed.

Hers is the laughter of one who knows that life may be falling apart at the edges, but not at the core. At the core, she knows she is loved by God, held in His arms, and promised the eternal joys of heaven. If anyone has reason to suck buttons off a sofa, it is Miriam. But she understands the words of Jesus, "In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." And she pins a prayer to her fridge: "Lord, if you can't make me thin, make my friends look fat!"

As a humorist, it is my privilege to speak to thousands of people each year. Many are groups of believers; some are not. But I've made a surprising discovery lately: Christians laugh harder. I have seen them fall off benches and beg for oxygen. Perhaps the world laughs to forget, but Christians laugh because we remember that the most serious issues were dealt with at the cross. Death was swallowed up. Eternity was promised. Surely the greatest punch line in all of history is this: that a holy God could love the likes of us. This truth bids me live life with thanksgiving. And sometimes you may see me laughing. It is the laughter of one who deserves the worst and is offered the best. It is the laughter of the forgiven.

Speaking of forgiveness, the next time that gentleman calls, I won't put a potato in his exhaust pipe. I'll ask his wife to stuff fiberglass insulation into his pajamas.


Phil Callaway is the editor of Servant magazine, author of a dozen books and a popular speaker. His web site is:

Originally published in City Light News, June 2008.




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