A comedian or a prophet?
What's the difference between a comedian and a prophet? I should have asked you to think of the many differences. Comedians and comedy actors mean to make us laugh but some of them mean to open our eyes to better things or to the deep moral flaws in society and they use humour to get the job done. I think that is a great work! (There are some whose material reeks of injustice and obscenity and moral dumbing-down and can only appeal to or help shape a certain mind-set. God forgive us, there's nothing much to laugh at in their performances. A biblical text comes to mind at this point: "Fools make a mock of sin." Bad enough that we all engage in it; worse that we think it's funny.)
But prophets weren't comedians! Prophetic figures are able to rejoice and when the occasion arises they can "dance like a dervish" (read, for example, some of the psalms or sections of Isaiah and hear the tone of exultation and pleasure) but, even then, when they speak it isn't in the speech patterns of a comedian.
We should hardly bar the sound of laughter or happiness from a pulpit or a Bible class but joy and hope and pleasure and confidence do not rise out of our capacity for pleasure and smiles and we shouldn't act as though they do. These things should rise out of the truth about God and what he is and means to be to us; and the upshot of that is, that whatever else we do in the pulpit or in classrooms, we must lay the foundations on which humour and smiles and happiness are built. Forty minutes of rolling-in-the-aisle-material with some biblical verses thrown in and a few serious-sounding moral exhortations has nothing prophetic about it. After a while hungry and needy people want something more than sweets. Somewhere down the line those hungry and needy people who didn't know any better than to feed constantly on cotton-candy and "empty calories" will wish there had been prophetic type men and women in our classes and pulpits, giving them what they needed rather than what they wanted. There'll come a day when, like C.S Lewis' Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, these people will notice that though they ate prodigious amounts of "Turkish Delight" they were never filled. There was always a hunger that wasn't met. Some years back when he was asked what he thought of the speaker who had just finished I overheard a well-balanced and accomplished man say, "He was funny, wasn't he!" That was it.
What's the difference between a prophet (or a prophetic type) and a sour, belligerent, tedious quoter of texts?
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com