A Sermon With A Smile
A teenage boy is getting ready to take his date to the prom. First, he goes to get a tuxedo, but there’s a long line at the tailor (and it takes forever, but finally he gets the tux). Second, he goes to get some flowers, but there’s a long line at the florist (and it takes forever, but finally he gets the corsage). Third, he goes to get the limousine, but there’s a long line at the dealer (and it takes a long time, but finally he get the limo.) Finally, the couple are at the prom, dancing happily, and both having a great time. When the song is over, she asks him to get her some punch, so he heads over to the punch table, and there’s no punch line.
Charles Spurgeon is called, “the prince of preachers” pastoring, in the late 1800s, the largest congregation in the world, the great Metropolitan Tabernacle of London, England. Spurgeon, a Baptist minister, took a strong stand for the Bible and fought against the leading infidels of his day. And even over a century later, more of his material is in print than any other Christian author, alive or dead. One noted contemporary, German pastor-theologian Helmut Thielicke, advised his students to “sell all the books you have and buy Spurgeon.” (An interesting note, when Spurgeon was too ill to preach, due to chronic lung problems, he’d write out his two Sunday sermons. Then from the pulpit, a deacon would read one in the morning and another deacon would read one in the evening, as opposed to having a guest speaker.) …
However, the man considered by many to be the greatest Baptist preacher of all time, had one consistent criticism leveled at him concerning his sermons – too much use of humour. (To which he replied to his critics, “If you knew how much humour I held back, you wouldn’t be so critical.”) His defenders explained that Spurgeon’s cheerfulness did not come from the man being naturally so in personality, but from his way of bearing witness to the grace of God working within. Joseph Parker, who pastored the second largest church in London, said of his contemporary in the gospel – “What a bubbling fountain of humour is Mr. Spurgeon. I believe I have laughed more when in his company for one hour than the rest of my life combined.” And when Spurgeon penned his 1,100-page auto-biography, he devoted an entire chapter to his use of humour in the ministry. In it, he makes no apology whatsoever, mentioning the following passages of Scripture:
● Psalm 126:2 – Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.
● Nehemiah 8:10 – Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
● Proverbs 17:22 – A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
● Ecclesiastes 3:4 – A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
The bottom line? Spurgeon is a good reminder that the conservative Christian’s testimony is not to be that of a “frown-damentalist” but more of a “fun-damentalist”.