I recently had the chance to preview a new faith-based movie coming out in the fall called The Identical. It’s actually a faith-based movie that doesn’t seem like one, and I mean that in the best possible way. In the opening scenes, a Depression Era father of newborn twins wanders into a revival tent meeting that will forever alter the lives of his two boys. Later, I was trying to tell Marti the main plot line of the story, and when I mentioned the tent meeting, she interrupted me: “There are Indians in this movie?”
I stared at her incredulously. “It was a tent revival meeting, honey, not a teepee!”
We had a big laugh over that, and I thought it would be fitting to close our 21-day discussion on the new covenant with a bunch of laughs.
Like the time I was walking out of my office one morning in the predawn hours and opened the door on a skunk. In my shock I slammed the door shut; I just neglected to pull my head in. That’s when I found out, in a very painful way, that it’s not possible to keep my eye on the skunk and close the door at the same time.
Or how about my most embarrassing moment ever on stage. This one wins hands down, because it took us all at least five minutes to settle down before I could go on. It was a concert I did with my good friend Pam Mark Hall at Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center near Santa Cruz, California. It was a packed crowd of over a thousand — a sort of reunion concert — because Mount Hermon was pretty much where I got my music career started, writing and introducing my new songs to high school campers all summer long up the hill at Ponderosa Lodge in 1969. It’s important to know it’s a friendly audience, because that just gives them permission to laugh even harder. Humor is almost always at someone’s expense, but in the security of a loving relationship, we know we’re all laughing at each other, and not hurting anyone’s feelings. We know we would do the same thing in similar circumstances, so we’re laughing at ourselves and celebrating the silly things that make us all human.
And the truly funniest things are the ones you can’t plan.
Pam and I were both on stage at the same time, and for some reason while we were bantering back and forth, I mentioned I had recently recovered from hernia surgery. As I said that, I suddenly realized how old that made me sound, and wanting to reassure everyone this was a problem I’d had from birth, and not because I was getting old and decrepit, I blurted out, “It was genital!” There were a couple seconds of shocked silence, and then an earthquake erupted.
Now, of course, I meant to say, “con-genital” but the damage was done. For a while there, I thought we’d never be able to finish the night. Talking seriously about your genitals in front of a thousand people is just a very rare and special moment.
What makes these moments so funny is that they actually reveal, probably better than anything else can, the real nature of the new covenant. 2 Corinthians 4:7 is nothing more than one big joke. A treasure in a clay pot is a joke. The high glory of Christ in these tall, short, skinny, fat, pretty, ugly bodies is a joke. And the joke is the point. In fact, it’s the whole point. It’s the way we all realize that the power is coming from God and not us. Come on … look at us! … It makes me laugh just to think about it. We’re the temple of God? Come on…! That’s just grand comedy. It’s the way God gets all the glory, and we get all the laughs, because it’s just too good to be true. That He would love us, live in us, use is — that’s what’s too good to be true.
Grace is one grand joke, at our expense, and to God’s glory.
It’s Marti trying to envision a Depression Era teepee; it’s me slamming my head in the door or trying to cover my genitals in front of a thousand people; it’s the high and lofty grand laughter of God loving us unconditionally just the way we are.
Welcome to the new covenant gospel. I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.
By the way, don’t look now, but your veil is showing!