Is God a Cosmic Killjoy? – Christian & Islamic Perspectives

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.

Follow-up on Bibles for Refugees

A few months ago, when the refugee crisis was at its peak in Europe, White Fields Church collected money to purchase Bibles for refugees, mostly from Iran and Syria, who had come to Hungary and had either become Christians or were interested in Christianity.

Bibles, especially Farsi (Persian) Bibles are expensive and hard to come by, but we were able to send 50 Bibles in various languages to those working on the ground with these refugees. Last summer, my wife Rosemary was able to meet with some of them in Debrecen, before the refugee camp there was closed this November. Since then most of the refugees have been moved to Bicske, near Budapest, and Békéscsaba in South-East Hungary. Those in Bicske are coming now every Monday to Golgota Budapest to learn the Bible and have Hungarian lessons.

The friends of ours in Budapest who help them asked me if Travis and I could come down and meet them today since we were in Hungary and our church had purchased these Bibles for them.

After breakfast with some friends from the Eger church, Travis and I took the train to Budapest, met with some friends at the church, and then went and joined the refugee Bible study, which was in English with translation into Farsi.

After Bible study, I got the opportunity to speak to the group. I told them about how Rosemary and I had spent years doing refugee ministry and we had seen several people from Iran come to faith in Jesus, and how we had also seen some of those people have their lives threatened, one man was attacked and almost killed, for their new faith.

For these people, the Gospel really is a matter of life and death – of all or nothing. As a result of becoming Christians, their lives will be at risk from their fellow countrymen for having converted and they will likely be disowned by their families and communities. However, though they may lose everything for following Christ in this life, they will gain eternal life in the next. Is it worth it? They would say: Absolutely.

One of the men, when they received the Bibles that our church sent them, held it up and said: “In my country I could be killed for reading this! Think about how powerful the message of this book must be that they want to do everything to keep us from reading it!”

One of the things I told this group, was that we were glad that we could provide for them the Bibles that we did, and that if they needed more, we would be happy to provide those also.

After I spoke to the group, I prayed for them. And after the prayer, Lisa, a missionary with Calvary Chapel in Hungary came over and showed me an email she had just received as I was speaking, from the Hungarian Bible Society, that they had located 30 Farsi Bibles, but they weren’t cheap. Lisa showed me the email and asked if I was serious about providing more Bibles…

We said yes, and we were able to purchase 30 Farsi Bibles for these young believers who have never owned a Bible of their own before. One of the men had received a New Testament in his language before, but was eager to read the Old Testament. Another man had received a Bible from us back in September, but had given it away to another man who wanted to read it and needed another one for himself to read.

Can you imagine not having access to a Bible? Or your faith being a matter of life and death? That is what these people face for their decision to follow Jesus.

God is doing a great work amongst these people, and he is going to use them to be evangelists to other refugees in Europe. These people are our brothers and sisters in the faith. Please pray for them and consider ways to support them. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.