Okay, I’ll admit that the title was what the social media sites tend to call “click-bait.” An attempt to get you interested if at least not curious. Unlike those sites, I have been praying about something specific within the last couple of weeks and do have to confess something, or at least air my thoughts to all my friends and peers that follow my blog site.
First, what I have been praying about is something I have struggled for, for many years since being involved in online ministry. No, it’s not drugs, porn, or anything of the sort, so if you’re looking for something salacious, so sorry! Ready for it??
It’s humor! Yep, humor, but more importantly as it relates to other people and trying to find the balance in not offending and yet realizing at the same humor is a part and in fact a NECESSARY part of our emotional and mental make-up. You see, I take the Word of God very seriously. Oh, don’t be confused, I’m NOT perfect as I struggle just like everyone else finding the balance in my everyday walk with the Lord and in particular with others that I identify with as Brothers and Sisters in the Lord.
Nope, I’m not perfect; BUT – I do strive to do what is right towards others and what is right in the sight of the Lord. This issue of jokes and humor has plagued me ever since the beginning of online ministry and the truth of the matter is, there weren’t a LOT of people I could ask about it when I started due to the fact that online ministry was always considered a “hobby,” and just short of being real or true!
In the past, I used public forums for the social media aspect, where people could register and be a part of the membership, very similar to what WordPress does now with Followers, but with a bit more interaction. Much of it back then could take place in “real-time” as well as comments and such left for viewing later.
Anyway, as I stated in an earlier article, several times I have had dear brothers AND sisters who had a hard time reconciling a “serious” site with a spot for humor and the first time I ran into the situation I lost several active members in the site because of the division it caused. It could almost (I said ALMOST) be compared to what kind of Hymnals a church wants to purchase, or the color of the new carpet to be laid down in a church building. Those kinds of things that in some circles can divide and destroy a church, (and have in some instances).
Anyway, since to me, online ministry was a fairly new medium and I was also new to it, I always tried to take the “high-road” and do things with a spirit of peace and harmony. As I stated, I try to take the Word of God very seriously and I have always tried to stand on what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3.
Now mind you, I myself have heard a lot of different preaching and teaching on this Scripture and especially in conjunction with what Paul wrote to the Romans in chapter 14, beginning with, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.” – Romans 14:1, as well as to the Corinthians, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31-33.
I know the different arguments and especially the favorite, “You can’t please everyone.” It’s just that for the longest time, I thought that just maybe it wasn’t NECESSARY to keep something that wasn’t of a teaching nature. Yes, yes, I know, you CAN actually teach with jokes and humor; just hear me out. These were things I struggled with very much in the beginning and every once in a while it would crop up through the years. As I stated, I thought I was taking the “high-road” and yet I realize I wasn’t really teaching anything by just acquiescing.
This leads me to about a month ago and then my actions a couple of weeks ago. You see the issue cropped up again; oh not with the same people by any means, but a couple of new followers. The same thoughts sprang forth. “I am a mature, experienced Christian and I must defer to those that are possibly ‘weaker’ in the faith.” I stewed over it for a couple of weeks and then decided, my ministry wasn’t worth the conflict and I removed my humor category, A Merry Heart, and all of its posts from my ministry site. After all, the ministry is a SERVICE to others, and not to myself. I am trying to use what little gifting I have in service to the Lord and to my Brothers and Sisters (and those with questions) no matter what they might be looking for. Surely humor and jokes wouldn’t be missed in that endeavor.
Then when I actually removed the posts (though I moved them to a separate Blog), the comments and Private Messages started coming in, mainly in response to my actions and what I posted in the Ramblings and/or Info to explain my actions. Okay, here’s part (notice I said part) of the confession; I should have talked to several of my peers FIRST before making such a drastic move! I have received some great comments AND advice concerning humor, something which I have to admit, I didn’t receive in my early years of attempting online ministry.
Also, I have several close friends who are peers who have humor sprinkled throughout their sites and they have as much if not MORE experience than I do, and I look to THEIR sites for encouragement and inspiration and humor is a part of that! As I stated, I have also been praying about the situation, true (another part of confession) more so after the fact than so much before the situation and I have come to the conclusion that since humor, cheerfulness, laughter, JOY, and several other similar characteristics are listed importantly in the Scriptures, if I am truly looking for balance, there is nothing detracting, distracting or divisive about having a spot for humor!
Consider this; “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: . . .” AND “A time to weep, And a time to laugh; . . .” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4. Written by one of the wisest men in the world, and if one of the wisest men to have ever lived and who WAS inspired by the Holy Spirit, the AUTHOR of all wisdom could write one of my most used verses, then in truth, what was the mental conflict I endured about and what is all the fuss about?
“A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22.
Now it is true, we usually just quote the first part of this Scripture, but the second part tells us why the first part is so important. Another thing, all a person has to do is to check the cross references for this Scripture alone and you will see so many confirmations to this as a true spiritual characteristic! A merry heart, a cheerful heart, a joyful heart, they are all synonymous with one another and they all prevent — here it comes — they all prevent GRUMPINESS and BITTERNESS! Finding merriment in life’s circumstance and events, even the troubled events (true, after getting through them), brings a spirit of Joy and accomplishment, peace and relief. Not to mention a smile, usually. Get it? It can bring a spirit of JOY! Joy is NOT happiness, joy is not dependent upon your circumstance, but rather is something that takes place deep inside the spirit of a person DESPITE their circumstance, good or bad!
Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, . . .” Look at that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote JOY as second in the list of those attributes! Joy, second only to love. Why is Joy so important? Here’s one clue: “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10. The Joy the Lord has for you is a strength to you! Joy, and all that flows from it, is good for your spiritual health as well as your natural health.
I have come to the conclusion though much prayer and in the spirit of seeking direction, that with a spiritual attribute, identified as Fruit of the Spirit, such as Joy is, the BEST thing to do in the spirit of maintaining balance AND unity in the bond of peace is to do what I have just done; give a teaching, an insight into the Scriptures and the importance of what I think is an important part of a person’s life, spiritual and/or natural.
The practical application is that following many of my ministerial peers and their sites, and through much prayer and seeking the Lord for wisdom, I have decided that since humor is a part of life and that it brings not just happiness but the Spiritual Fruit of Joy as well, there is nothing wrong with having it associated with my site. Though I moved my posts to another site, temporarily, I have moved them back to be a part of this site for ease of viewing. People who don’t want or appreciate humor do not have to click on any of the links to them.
I didn’t think when I started this explanation it would turn out to be this comprehensive, and yet, we have to assume that when Jesus walked with His disciples and when He wasn’t praying, but actually fellowshipping and communing with the disciples that there were times when they laughed together and shared smiles. I cannot, as hard as some spiritual things are to totally comprehend, imagine that the spirit of Joy did not manifest itself in some physical way ending with smiles.
I try so hard not to put God Almighty into a box of my own making and yet from time to time, I realize that is exactly what I have done and in my mind, I have to tear that box up and let our Sovereign King be just Who He is; God Almighty, Creator of All and our Heavenly Father!
God bless you all and thanks so much, again and again for your patience with me.