When Laughing Isn't Funny

A few weeks ago, John Piper spoke at a national meeting of counselors here in Nashville. He opened his sermon with a very honest and open look at the sins he deals with in his own life. The crowd, amazingly, finds great humor in his confession.

Listen to the first four minutes or so here.

Very awkward to say the least.

Greg Gilbert gives an interesting analysis and startling application to the local church:

Do you see, at root, what had happened at that conference? Over the course of a couple of days, those conferees had been trained to expect humor from the speakers and therefore to react to the speakers with laughter---all the way to the point that they were incapable of seeing that John Piper was being serious in his confession of sin to them. You can quibble with whether the first couple of Piper's statements were (unintentionally, it seems) kind of funny. I happen to think they were. By the time he gets to about the 3-minute mark, though, there's nothing funny left, and he's moved into very serious stuff. Yet the atmosphere of humor and levity at that conference was so thick---the training so complete---that the people were incapable of seeing it. So they laughed at Piper's confession of his sin.

Apparently the conditioning of that audience to think everything is funny took no more than a couple of days.

How deep do you think that conditioning would be for a church who sat under a funny-man pastor every Sunday for fifteen years?

Something to think about as pastors in relation to the responsibility we have each week to the people God has given us to shepherd.


Charlie said...

Sounds like The Scarlet Letter, when Rev. Dimmesdale confesses his sins, but everyone can't take him seriously because he appears so pious.

Piper himself said, "The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ills that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable."

I say all that to say that the world dulls our ability to discern the sin, the serious, the literally eternal life-and-death daily struggle of our brothers and sisters because of our attachment to it.

Love to you and your family, brother.

R. Philip Blinson said...

Very true! Thanks Charlie. Hope you are doing well!