Haven't most of us suffered from unkind, would-be humor? Christianity -- when it is practiced -- brings joy. Christ Jesus urged his disciples to obey his commandments so that "my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." n1
n1 John 15:11,
What makes us truly happy? How does humor relate to joy?
We all know that laughter and joy don't necessarily have the same trigger. Escapist laughs, for example, can't increase our happiness in living. In fact, they could be a sign that we're missing out on real happiness -- the kind that comes from knowing God better and serving Him more.
But true joy does makes us more happy and better balanced. It can even sharpen our sense of humor.Does God mandate a dull life? Not at all!
Of course, Christly bliss has a price. The discipline of getting to know one's truly happy, immortal selfhood costs persistent effort.
Not that we have to grit our teeth at the bathroom miror each morning in a grim resolve to live the day joyfully! Happiness comes to us by divine law. Jesus loved God and loved his neighbor as himself -- the two great commandments of God's law. Hence his joy, so abundant that it overflowed in healing wherever he went.
The same joy is offered to us on the same terms -- love for God and man.
Here surely is the great clue for the upgrading of wit around the world -- love. Motives for making gags and wisecracks can sometimes be secret frustration, cynicism, sensuality, desire for money. Some amusement may come, but does it refresh us? We canm do with laughs, but it's when they spring from a life that is profoundly selfless -- and therefore truly happy -- that they give us the best life.
It comes down to knowing who we really are: God's loving chindren, not mortals sentenced to walk a perpetual treadmill of materiality.
God is Love, and creation is His loved and loving idea. Spiritual love is our true environment and our deepest motive for action. The Christ in us, our real selfhood, gives perpetual joy as we express God's love for all.
Through prayer and through studying to grasp the treasures of truth in Scripture -- both of which sharpen our spiritual sense -- we daily know God better, love Him and His creation more. The physical senses, with their obstructive preoccupation with matter, lose their domination of us. We see something of the spiritual truth of ourselves and our fellow beings as pure ideas, worthy representatives of God. Entering the kingdom of heaven is no mere future hope. We find ourselves living in it increasingly, with steady satisfaction.
This escape from sin through grace is also escape from the mere escapism that heals nothing, solves nothing. Learning to lose our fears in love, we have less need of laughing uneasily at them to make them tolerable. We get fewer kicks from cynical and uncompassionate humor. And we ask of those who use their talents to amuse us that they refresh, not wither, our expectancy of good.
We have better quality conversations and wit as we open our hearts to divine joy. We help others have a sweeter sense of humor, too, for we're all travelers toward that same joy. As Mary Baker Eddy n2 puts it, "Truth will at length compel us all to exchange the pleasures and pains of sense for the joys of Soul." n3 And isn't that what we're all aiming for?
Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science;
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 390.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly. Proverbs 15:21