Theme: The power of humour
Bible refs: Mark 4 vv 33 & 34
Location of clip: 27 mins and 50 secs to 29 mins and 50 secs
Monstropolis is a place full of scary creatures. Every night the monsters sneak into children’s bedrooms and scare the hell out of them in order to generate the power needed to keep Monstropolis going. James P Sullivan is the scariest of all, currently topping the energy polls every night.
However, in reality it is the monsters who are scared, they fear any real contact with the children and when one little girl, Boo, sneaks into Monstropolis all chaos breaks loose. Sully and his mate Mike spend much of the movie chasing her down and trying to return her safely to her bedroom. No mean achievement with a persistent little girl like Boo.
Sully and Mike have whisked Boo away and hidden her in their apartment. Now they are trying to limit the damage she inflicts by cornering Boo and somehow controlling her. When she starts to scream there is a power surge in the apartment block and a nearby helicopter swoops by to investigate. In order to stop the screaming Sully starts to entertain Boo – and then something astonishing happens – Boo starts to laugh and there is another power surge. But this one is so big it blows all the fuses in the building.
“What was that?” asks Sully, amazed.
“I don’t know,” says Mike, “But don’t make her do it again.”
What Sully and the other Monsters don’t realise is that laughter generates more power than screams.
Sully and the other Monsters think that they need to scare the kids to get what they want from them – they have no idea that if they made them laugh they would get so much more. Often humour can elicit a much greater response.
It was GK Chesterton who said: “More flies are caught with honey than with vinegar.” By which I think he meant – more people are attracted to what is colourful, lively and funny, than to something dour, dull and serious.
It’s easy to think that evangelism is about knocking people over the head with the truth. Drumming into them the serious nature of life and eternity. Yet Jesus adopted a different approach. He told stories that were funny, entertaining, mysterious and surprising. His tales were the equivalent of WH Smith’s top ten best sellers, they drew crowds and left them laughing and thinking. It’s easy to forget that the truth of God may seem warm and comforting to us – but to those outside of the kingdom it can appear like an axe – something fearful and destructive. So we need to wield it carefully, we need to use humour, warmth and kindness to draw people in. Jesus constantly annoyed the Pharisees because he wouldn’t judge and condemn, instead he encouraged and wooed his audiences.
When John the Baptist described Jesus, he made him sound like the Terminator – saying things like:
“He is ready to separate the chaff from the grain with his winnowing fork… burning the chaff with never-ending fire… the axe of God’s judgement is poised, ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
No wonder he later sent a delegation to Jesus to check if he was really the One. Jesus was looking more like Mother Theresa than Arnold Schwarzeneger, picking up children, telling funny stories and chatting with prostitutes. No wonder John was disappointed.
It’s tempting to want to batter the ‘terrible pagans’ out there with the truth – but let’s never forget we are all of us just flawed people, muddling along, trying to get by. Perhaps a smile and a kind word will get us further than wading in with a smoking gun.
1. Is it easier to offer people a kind word or a sharp rebuke?
2. Should we expect people who do not follow Jesus to obey his commands?
3. How can we communicate the good news in such a way that it will make people feel better about life, not worse?
4. What drew you towards Jesus?
5. Did the clip make you think about anything else?