Some people view God as a cosmic killjoy: one who sits in Heaven with a frown on his face, looking down on the world to make sure anyone down here isn’t having too much fun…
The fact is, for many of us, our view of God is shaped not only by the Bible, but by interactions we’ve had with other people, including those who claimed to be Christians, authority figures, peers, etc. The result, is that for many people, our view of God is not wholly biblically formed, and we can pick up assumptions about God that are actually inaccurate.
Consider the following verses:
“You shall rejoice before the Lord your God…” (Leviticus 23:40). “Shout for joy!” (Psalm 32:11). “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion” (Zechariah 2:10).
An Islamic Perspective: “There is No Humor in Islam”
For comparison, here’s a quote from Ruhollah Khomeini, the grand ayatollah of Iran.
“Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious. Islam does not allow swimming in the sea and is opposed to radio and television serials. Islam, however, allows marksmanship, horseback riding and competition.”Peter Hussein, Islam in Its Own Words (Morrisville: Lulu Self Publishing, 2018), 16. cited in S.E. Zylstra, The Weary World Rejoices (The Gospel Coalition, 2021)
In contrast to that, consider Isaiah 65:18: “But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.” Furthermore, the Israelites’ “mouths were filled with laughter, [their] tongues with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:2).
Rather than being a cosmic killjoy, humor and friendship are part of God’s design.
The First of Jesus’ Signs
Something unique about the Gospel of John is that John refers to Jesus’ miracles as “signs.”
The nature of a sign is that a sign points to something beyond itself. Thus, what John is telling us, is that Jesus’ miracles weren’t just cool things that Jesus could do, but those miracles were actually signs which pointed to something beyond themselves.
This is significant when you consider that Jesus’ first sign was that he turned water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana in order to prolong the party.
This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.John 2:11
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. So it’s interesting that Jesus would choose this to be his first miracle: turning water into wine, so a celebration wouldn’t have to end.
In the ancient world (and even today), wine was a symbol of merriment and joy – of celebration and festivity. And so, if the wine ran out, the party was over.
Throughout the Bible: in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, Heaven is described as being like a wedding feast; it’s the ultimate party, which never ends.
Look at how the Prophet Isaiah describes what Heaven will be like:
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.Isaiah 25:6-7
This first of Jesus’ miracles wasn’t only a cool thing he did, it was a sign, pointing to who Jesus was and why He had come. That first miracle at Cana was a glimpse, a preview, a foreshadowing of the Kingdom which Jesus came to bring — a Kingdom there will be joy and celebration forever, without end.
Sin is the ultimate joy killer, and in this sin-tainted world we will have tribulation, but we can take heart because the hope of the gospel is that the Kingdom or eternal joy will indeed come.
You can be sure that God is not a cosmic killjoy, but the author of joy, whose ultimate joy is that we would experience joy in His presence, both now and forever.