That Awkward Moment When You Make Fun of Tony Romo and the Holy Spirit Convicts You

I’m a big fan of humor and laughter and poking fun at pretentiousness. I suppose everyone is a fan of laughter. Only a weirdo or a serial killer would say he isn’t a fan of laughter and humor. But I really, really like to laugh. I’m a jokester. Life is too short and too sad to be continually serious. I should probably put that phrase on a t-shirt or inspirational poster or something.

I’m also a big sports fan, which, when combined with my love of humor, means I have a moral obligation to make jokes about:

  • Every New York sports team.
  • The basketball player formerly known as Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace. If you know anything about Metta’s history of throwing punches, you understand why his name change is utterly ridiculous.
  • Shaquille O’Neal’s role in the movie Kazaam and Michael Jordan’s role in Space Jam (what nut job convinced those guys to take on those roles?)
  • The Duke Blue Devils.
  • The Dallas Cowboys.

Recently, pastor Tullian Tchividjian posted on Twitter that he was going to dinner with legendary Cowboy’s quarterback Roger Staubach and current Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo. I instinctively replied, “Make sure Romo doesn’t choke at dinner.” It was a dig at Romo for his propensity to choke in clutch situations (see interceptions, botched snaps, Jessica Simpson, etc.).

I got a lot of virtual high-fives and huzzahs for my quick wit. Even my Dallas-loving friends were giving my shout-outs. I was riding pretty high. I was Mr. Funnyman, Mr. Comedian, Mr. Quickwit.

But then the Holy Spirit had to get involved and do that whole conviction thing He does.

The Holy Spirit reminded me that even though Tony Romo is a celebrity, he is also a person, which in turn means that I must treat him as I would want to be treated. For some reason, I tend to think of celebrities apart from their personhood, as if they are some form of disembodied person. I make fun of Romo and Bieber and Kanye and lots of other celebrities without giving it a second thought. I suspect you might do the same. In our social media world, it’s so easy to do.

But the command to love others as we love ourselves applies just as much to celebrities as it does to “normal” people. I imagine that Romo’s colossal melt-downs are a consistent source of grief for him. Botching a game-winning field goal snap in a playoff game is no small thing. His career and reputation have been somewhat defined by his perpetual failures. He has been ripped to shreds by the media and by comedians and by late-night talk show hosts.

Would I appreciate someone making fun of me for my failures? Nope. Would he appreciate me making fun of his choking habits? Probably not.

Will I make fun of celebrities in the future? Probably. But before I do, I want to pause and consider how my words would be received if I said them directly to the person. Famous people aren’t exempt from the golden rule. As a follower of Christ, I am called to treat everyone, including celebrities, in the same way I would want to be treated.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to watch Space Jam.

Standing God’s Commands On Their Heads

We human beings are funny creatures.  And we Christian human beings are funny new creatures. Sometimes we take God’s commands and stand them on their heads.  Here’s what I mean.

Philippians 2:4 says we should look to the interests of others.  Yet sometimes I hear believers say, “No one takes an interest in me.  No one reaches out to me.”  The Bible doesn’t tell us to make sure people are taking an interest in us, but that we should take an interest in others.  If we want others to take reach out to us, we should reach out to others.  Jesus said whatever you want others to do for you, do for them.  Sow what you want to reap.

I’ve heard folks say, “I quit going to small group because I wasn’t getting anything out of it.”  Oh, we forgot.  Small group is all about you.  God commands us to not neglect fellowship but instead to stir up and encourage one another (HEB 10.24-25).  So we should go with the attitude of how can I contribute tonight, how can I encourage or pray for someone.  When we go to a meeting, we should ask Jesus for opportunities to serve and bless.

Another way we stand God’s commands on their heads is by focusing on the things God commands others to do while neglecting what we should do.  I’ve heard husbands say, “My wife doesn’t submit to me,” while not considering whether they are loving their wives as Christ loved the church.  Don’t focus on what God commands others to do, but what he commands you to do.

How about standing God’s command to worship him on its head?

Ever heard someone say, “Worship didn’t do much for me this morning.”  Awww, we’re sorry your majesty wasn’t entertained and enthralled today.  Maybe we should get Paul McCartney to lead worship next Sunday.  Sorry the smoke machines didn’t fill the room and a few of the explosions were softer than normal.  Maybe we should ask Jesus if he got anything out of our worship this morning.

The main problem in all these examples is our tendency to focus on ourselves instead of God or others.  The more we can get our eyes off ourselves and on to Jesus and others, the more of the Lord’s joy we’ll experience.

photo by travelling.steve

Does God Need Our Praise?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving…The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me (Psalm 50:14, 23)

Ever wonder why God commands us to worship him?

Is it because he’s some cosmic egomaniac who feeds off our admiration?  Does his love cup need constant replenishing? Does his self-esteem wane?  Or does he get some perverse pleasure from making his creatures do meaningless tasks?

Apparently Israel had fallen into thinking that God somehow needed the sacrifices he required of them.  They’d begun thinking like their pagan neighbors who believed their gods literally ate the animals sacrificed to them.  But in Psalm 50, God tells Israel he doesn’t need their offerings.

I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats? (9-13)

So why did God command them to offer animals to him?  They weren’t for God’s benefit, but for Israel’s.  He graciously gave them the sacrifices to temporarily cover their sins so they could draw near to him and enjoy a relationship with him.  The blood of the goats and bulls was to remind them that sin had to be paid for and to point to Christ’s permanent atoning blood sacrifice that was to come.

God doesn’t need our service or money or praise:

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  (AC 17.24-25)

All God commands us is for our good and his glory.  He doesn’t need our serving or giving or worship, since he gives us life and breath and everything.  When he commands us to sing or pray or love our enemies, it’s for our benefit.  When God commands us to give our money, it’s not because he needs the cash, but that we might find him to be our treasure. And in being the source of all our good and blessing he is glorified.

photo by [auro]