I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.
Last Wednesday evening at Life Group, we had an absolutely hilarious time talking about childhood adventures and various embarrassing and humorous moments in our lives. (For those who aren’t familiar with Life Groups, they are small groups of people within a church who meet together in homes to build friendships and support and encourage each other. Some churches call them small groups, connect groups or cell groups). Anyway, to return to my story – at Life Group last week, we laughed more than I have laughed in a long time. It all started when we got talking about raising children, and I mentioned that Marion and I still occasionally hear stories from our children about some childhood misadventure that we knew nothing about. This started the stories flowing, and for the next hour or so we heard story after story about each other’s lives, punctuated with much hilarity.
This might not seem like a very spiritual way to spend an evening, but as I listened to the stories and the comments that were going round the circle, I realized that in sharing our misadventures, foibles and embarrassing moments, we were doing something very significant. Telling stories on ourselves in an atmosphere of faith helps us to understand ourselves and one another better. It gives us an opportunity to grow in love, humility and honesty. The letter of James – one of the most practical books in the Bible – instructs us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another that we may be healed (James 5:16). In an atmosphere of faith, laughing together about our foibles can be a form of confession and repentance. One young woman in the group said that she used to be very concerned about others’ opinion of her. This of course is very common. It’s called pride, and is a major stumbling block that keeps us from a healthy, productive relationship with God. This young woman said she found the shared laughter very freeing. I believe all of us found the same thing. It’s hard to stay puffed up with pride when you are laughing at yourself.
I am in the middle of doing year-end bookkeeping for my incorporated IT consulting practice. I am a stickler for getting my bookkeeping right. Accurate bookkeeping is important to me because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also important to me because I don’t want to get a nasty surprise down the road, when my corporate tax statement goes to CRA. If there are hidden surprises in my company’s books, it could cost me dearly.
The apostle John (1 John 2:27-28) reminds us to let ourselves be instructed by a real, not counterfeit, anointing so that we will be confident and unashamed at the coming of the Lord. Honesty before our friends – in an atmosphere of humility and dependency on God’s mercy – provides a climate in which the true anointing of the Holy Spirit can operate. This true anointing teaches us to walk in the light, with no pretending, no masks, genuine love, and therefore no need to be embarrassed or ashamed before the Lord. The result is holiness – not artificial, external holiness but the real thing.
Having shared our stories and laughed at ourselves and one another, we sang a simple song of thanksgiving, broke bread together and prayed simple, unvarnished prayers for each other before heading home. The prayers were real because we were being real with each other. I believe God was pleased with the way we spent our evening.
In fact, I was thinking that we could rename our life group and call it a 4-H club. Humour – honesty – humility – holiness. Yeah – 4-H ! Great new name for our life group. Pat and Beth will be so pleased.
Wait – didn’t someone already think of that name?