Laughing at Ourselves

What does spiritual maturity look like to you? For most of us, it probably involves reading the Bible, praying, serving in the church, and avoiding sin. But while all of those are important characteristics of the mature Christian, I’d like to suggest one that you may not immediately think of: the ability to laugh at yourself.

Recently, one of my favorite websites has been the Babylon Bee, a Christian satire site that has made a big splash in the few months it’s been up and running. At first glance, it looks like a typical news site, with headlines organized into various categories like “Politics,” “Business,” and “Entertainment.” But upon closer inspection, one finds that the news articles on the Babylon Bee are actually all fake, written not so much to pass along breaking news, but rather to elicit a laugh.

Some of the stories I’ve especially enjoyed include:

What makes these fake news stories so funny is the fact that in many ways, they allow us as Christians to make fun of ourselves. They help us see the quirks and oddities of church life in a fresh way, and they give us permission to laugh about them.

This realization struck me earlier in the week as I was reading an entertaining story with the headline, “Church Small Group Looking Forward To Six-Week Study Of Awkward Silences.” The article is hilarious, and it’s hilarious because it’s something most of us have probably experienced. In fact, it’s something most of us have probably been responsible for. We’ve been in that awkwardly silent room during a small group meeting. Probably many, many times. And so we laugh because in some ways, we’re guilty.

Now I recognize that some might find this sort of thing irreverent or unbecoming of serious, mature Christians. But I happen to think the opposite. A Christian who can laugh at herself is a Christian well on her way to Christ-like maturity. Why is that?

First of all, laughing at ourselves reminds us of our weakness. It’s not something we like to admit, but we’re all a bunch of bumbling, fumbling creatures. Laughing at our awkward mistakes helps us keep this truth in focus. When you’re flat on your face, laughing at your clumsiness will remind you that you have limitations—limitations that are often revealed in rather amusing ways.

Secondly, laughing at ourselves cultivates humility. Here’s a maxim that you’ll almost always find to ring true: Prideful people laugh at others; meek people laugh at themselves. When you laugh at yourself, you’re actually fighting against the universal human tendency to build yourself up at the expense of others. When you’re the butt of your own joke, you’re putting others above yourself.

Thirdly, laughing at ourselves helps us to grow. Humor is remarkably disarming, and sometimes that’s precisely what we need to get a point across. For example, if you tell a small group to stop being awkwardly silent, it probably won’t produce much change. But by making light of how painful our small group silences can be, our defenses are circumvented and we’re more likely to speak up during that next painful pause.

So as you strive to become more like Jesus on a daily basis, make it a point to laugh at yourself along the way. Don’t laugh at your sin. But by all means, if you do something goofy, be the first person to have a chuckle.

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