Reverence and Rejoicing

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It is fascinating to notice how Scripture often combines “furious opposites.” The psalm, for instance, that says, “The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble” is found right alongside another that declares, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth” (Psa. 99:1; 100:1). This God evokes both holy trembling and happy shouting. He inspires dread and delight (Psa. 2:11). In his presence we are constrained not only to bow down but also to dance, to be awestruck and joy-filled. It makes for a great mix. Here is worship that motivates holiness and happiness. It frees us from the extremes of frivolity and frigidity, of emotionalism and formalism. Neither reverence or rejoicing should be absent. A fascinating and powerful combination.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

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The serious matter of humor

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Numbers of clergymen have from time to time reproached me for making jokes about religion; and they have almost always invoked the authority of that very sensible commandment which says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Of course, I pointed out that I was not in any conceivable sense taking the name in vain. To take a thing and make a joke out of it is not to take it in vain. It is, on the contrary, to take it and use it for an uncommonly good object. To use a thing in vain means to use it without use. But a joke may be exceedingly useful; it may contain the whole earthly sense, not to mention the whole heavenly sense, of a situation. And those who find in the Bible the commandment can find in the Bible any number of the jokes. In the same book in which God’s name is fenced from being taken in vain, God himself overwhelms Job with a torrent of terrible levities.

The same book which says that 
God’s name must not be taken vainly,
talks easily and carelessly about 
God laughing and God winking.

Evidently it is not here that we have to look for genuine examples of what is meant by a vain use of the name. And it is not very difficult to see where we have really to look for it. The people (as I tactfully pointed out to them) who really take the name of the Lord in vain are the clergymen themselves. The thing which is fundamentally and really frivolous is not a careless joke. The thing which is fundamentally and really frivolous is a careless solemnity.

–G. K. Chesterton

Image: Jeannette Woitzik

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