The spiritual seeker was asking lots of questions about Christianity—which was good. He was asking them of a friend of mine who’s a mature Christian—also good. But some of my friend’s answers were—how shall I put it—a bit off the wall.
For instance, the seeker asked about necromancy—the practice of trying to contact the dead through witchcraft or sorcery. What did the Bible say about talking to the dead? My friend’s answer: “It says you should speak very loudly because the first thing that goes when you’re dead is your hearing.”
It wasn’t the kind of answer this man expected—but it certainly got his attention. And after he stopped laughing, he stuck around to hear why the Bible condemns this evil practice.
Humor: It’s an unusual witnessing tool. But my friend and former “BreakPoint” colleague, Eric Metaxas, believes it’s a terrific way to reach modern Americans. And that’s why he’s written a delightful new book called Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask). It’s an imaginary conversation between Eric and a somewhat antagonistic seeker who wants to know more about the Christian faith. Eric—who put many of his own real-life talks with non-Christians into the book—says he “wanted to make the idea of a conversation on the subject of God inviting and, dare I say it, even fun.”
Introducing an element of fun is especially important in a culture in which many people are wary of Christians. They think we’re dour and unpleasant people to be around. Humor helps put them at ease, and makes them more willing to listen than they might otherwise be.
Second, Eric says, humor and irony “have become part of the lingua franca of our culture.” Think about popular TV programs like Seinfeld and David Letterman, who brought irony and sarcasm into the mainstream. If Christians want to speak to people who love that kind of humor, we have to be willing to put our tongues in our cheeks now and then.
Eric is right. Every generation has to find ways to make the Good News understandable to those around them. In this we can take a lesson from the early Church. For example, the ancient Athenians, unlike the Jews, had no prior knowledge of Scripture, so the Apostle Paul looked for a starting point familiar to them. He struck on using a religious site in the city: an altar to an unknown god. Then he quoted a Greek poet. He appealed to the Athenians’ experience in order to create common ground for presenting the Gospel.
Modern America used to resemble Jerusalem, but it has becoming increasingly like Athens. It’s our task to find ways—including humor—to reach our unsaved neighbors with the Gospel.
That’s a good reason for reading Eric’s book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask). And once you’ve finished it, pass it on to an unsaved friend to read.
I’ve known many people who were turned off by Christians who were just too serious and dour—but I’ve never known one who refused to listen to someone who first made him laugh.