Scripture gives us an amusing description of a lazy man. He turns over in bed the way a door creaks open on its hinges. He lets his hand sink down into a bowl of food but finds it just about exhausts him to bring it back to his mouth. And he cries, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!”

The writer goes on to say (Prov. 26:16) that the sluggard thinks he is wiser than any seven discerning fellows taken together; yet here he is, saying, “I’m not going to go outside, not me! There’s a lion out there!” A lazy man can make fantastic excuses for not going to work, can dream up the most elaborate rationalizations for his inactivity. “There’s a lion outside the door!” So Scripture pokes fun at the fellow.

A quite different situation occasioned the celebrated laughter of Sarah. When Jehovah told Abraham his ninety-year-old wife would still have a baby, he laughed, and later on she laughed, her joy mixed with incredulity, just as Christ’s disciples are reported to have been amazed, not believing because of their joy, when Christ suddenly appeared in the room with them after the resurrection. Sarah, like some Christians today, felt guilty about laughing and lied about it, though after Isaac was born (Isaac means “laughter”) she said believingly, “God made me laugh so that all who hear about it will laugh with me.”

Laughing along with Sarah—that is the direction our thinking and encouraging of Christian art should take.

What makes something funny? The element of incongruity is certainly central; the unexpected juxtaposition or intersection of opposite matters sets up a humorous state of affairs. Once I ate dinner opposite Gerbrandy, ...

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