Who is the shortest man in the Bible? Bildad the Shuhite! (Sound it out)
I really enjoy a good pun. I know that to some that sentence seems oxymoronic, but I do not think so. Take the play of words from Shakespeare and he becomes a forgettable hack. The best lyrical music plays with words. Puns have a distinctly high place in literature. So why is it that our first response to a good pun is a groan? Why does such a noble endeavour engender such ridicule?
I believe that a pun is like a name just on the tip of our tongue. It is just beyond our reach but once someone (in my case, my wife) supplies the word or name, we are a bit indignant. We think, “I knew that! I did not need you telling me!” The pun is amusing because it derives from our group experience. We groan because we knew that! We groan because we were not first to say it. We groan because we feel that given a bit more time we could easily have come up with a similar play on words. The thought is so common as to breed a kind of contempt.
I have learned that if one is going to share such thoughts one must develop a thick skin and indeed an awareness that the ‘groan’ is a unique form of ovation.
A restaurant would never succeed on the moon because no matter how good the food might be there would be no atmosphere!
The resistance to puns comes from an unwillingness to be reminded of our own inadequacies. This reticence plays out in people’s resistance to the Gospel. People do not like to be confronted with the truth that they are not sufficient in themselves. The initial presentation of the Gospel begins with our common need. There is an element of ‘bad news’ that accompanies the Good News, and it is against this that our evangelism first bumps. Though the experience of a need for meaning is common it lays beyond consciousness and folks resent being uncomfortably confronted, in this regard. Nevertheless, like a good punster (again nor an oxymoron) we must persist through this initial discomfort. During this stage of evangelism, the ‘sharer’ is made to feel the ‘groan’ and too often slinks off like a thin-skinned comedian. The true ‘punch line is never delivered and never received! Persisting past the ‘groan’. Past the initial discomfort and resistance to the acknowledgement of our common need. A true ‘hearing’ is regularly preceded by a rejection of some kind. A comedian learns not to take this phase personally. An evangelist learns to pass any rejection along to Jesus. Isaiah tells us that Jesus was rejected, and He is used to it! A good evangelist (certainly not an oxymoron) deflects any feeling of rejection to the One “was rejected and acquainted with grief.” The good evangelist continues faithful, over time, until the ‘punch line’ is delivered. When faithfully delivered it is amazing how effective this punch line is!
“God loves you. Stop trying to live life on your own terms as if you were the Sovereign Lord. Surrender to him and know peace and love, beyond imagination.” No better punch line exists. Listen and you can hear Heaven’s rimshot!