Insight from a Children's Pastor & Awana Commander

It Was Just a Joke!

The world laughs at the Bible and those who believe, after all, it is just a book, right?

If we are going to try to reach the culture around us, then we must understand where they are, their perspectives, their philosophies, their view of God and Christianity. To help understand the views of an atheist, I often watch atheists on public access television. Last week we got a glimpse of human nature and a worldview that is ever present. We also saw a classic example of how we can justify our actions.

You may have seen the image of Kathy Griffin holding a mask of the head/face of President Trump on the news, on Facebook, or somewhere. (I choose not to show it because of the nature of the image). The image received a lot of negative comments from all sides of the political spectrum and please, this is not a political post, it is about how society views their rights, their responsibility, that there should be no responsibility for their actions and the inconsistency in logic. It is even present among Christians.

Ultimately Kathy Griffin’s defense regarding the image is that it was a bad joke for which she did issue a public apology after receiving much outrage. In essence saying, “I was just joking”. Have you ever said those words? I would venture to say that most, if not all of us, have uttered those words at some point in our lives. So how is Kathy Griffin’s apology any different than when we say those words? It is not. It seems that when we offer apologies like that, it is not because we’ve harmed another, but rather because the joke is beginning to impact us personally in a negative way.

But when we say those words, there are still consequences that we may face. The severity of the joke will determine the depth of the consequences. Yes, sometimes extreme practical jokes can lead to another individual’s death. The person may say that it was an accident, it was just a prank, and it may have been, but there are dire consequences that they will need to face.

After her apology, Kathy Griffin held a press conference with some attorneys and began to play “the victim” as if there should be no consequences for her actions. She truly did not expect this level of outrage and response from “a joke”. I watched the entire 20+ minute press conference on YouTube (you can view it here, but be aware that the image of her holding the bloody head will appear). You can see her defending her position while criticizing another. The attorney states that you cannot believe everything a certain individual says, but that apparently what they have said about Kathy Griffin should be believed. They are defending her rights to free speech because it was comedy, but condemn the rights of another to say things opposed to her, they view that as an attack. Logic does not seem to prevail when we try to rationalize, or justify, our own behavior and expect no consequences. And that is what the world expects…. and believes…. that there is no ultimate consequence for our actions.

Yet the Bible clearly tells us in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death” which surprisingly is what God told Adam in the garden. Genesis 2:17, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”. Our sinful actions, our disobedience to God, causes death. There are consequences which is something that the world does not want to acknowledge.

Yes there is forgiveness, yes there is grace, but in this world, there are consequences which we humans only desire to have the worst offenders receive, not us, because we are not that bad…. after all, I haven’t “murdered” anyone, right? People violate the law, receive a speeding ticket and so often complaints are heard that the police should be going after more serious offenses. I have even heard a pastor justify his sin (speeding) because his car “doesn’t go that slow” – the speed limit. Yet sin is sin, and violating the law is violating the law.

The sad thing is that many still will not believe. We can share Scripture all we want and some will walk away. That is between them and God, but as we live in this world, trying to reach people who believe that there should be no consequences for their negative actions, or if they were “just joking around”, we need to understand their perspective. Jesus realized that people would not believe and would turn away which is why when He sent the 70 out He told them that if they were not received to “shake the dust from their feet” when they moved on. We see Paul and Barnabas do that in Acts 13:51 as well, but they kept sharing the Gospel to all who would hear.

So what should we do in a world that believes that there should be no consequences for their actions? Share the Gospel – that there are consequences for our sin, and God made a way to restore us, and remove those consequences if we only believe. Knowing how the world views consequences can help you in reaching others.

We are so often reminded that the world needs Jesus. If comedians are not afraid to display severed heads as a joke, why are we afraid to shine the Light of Jesus in this dark world.

The world perceives the Bible as just a book, for some a fairy tale, and they laugh at it and at those who believe. I often hear people defend their choices by saying, “it was just a joke”, “it is just a book”, “it is just a movie”, “it is just a (fill in the blank)”, without looking at a bigger picture, the message it may send because after all… there are no consequences for our actions…. at least that is how the world perceives it.  How about you?


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