In His great Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 18:1-5), Jesus responded to His disciple's bickering over who was greatest by calling a child to Him and saying,
"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me ..."Truth be told, most of us are far more at home in the grown-up world; we have a tendency to lose our joy and our sense of wonder in the heat of the battle. We forget how to laugh at ourselves, and have an unfortunate tendency to lash out at anyone who cracks a joke at our expense. Even (and perhaps especially) when there is some perceived incongruity to laugh about.
Judging from His tendency to hang out with publicans and sinners, I'm guessing Jesus used a different approach. He knew how to laugh at Himself, and must have had a good joke or two up His sleeve. After all, this is the same God who created pufferfish and gangly newborn colts. His first earthly miracle was creating wine at a wedding feast (and, unlike my Baptist friends' contention, it was certainly not an alcohol-free variety!).
If Jesus had a mournful countenance and combative presence, and doled out joy by the thimbleful, He certainly wouldn't have been such a welcome addition to those A-list dinner parties.
How do you think Jesus would have responded, for example, if one of His relatives teased Him about settling down and finding a nice Jewish girl? Would He have smiled along ... or smote them all with lightening or incontinence? No doubt He had a serious side -- and yet, just as often He captivated the crowds with His stories and His miracles. He was a Groom in search of His Bride, and knew instinctively what it would take to woo her.
What good is it if in our efforts to "defend" the Church and the faith we hold dear, we alienate the very people Jesus came to save? If we cannot respond to the negative reactions of a secular society in a way that invites them to take a second, closer look ... are we fulfilling the Gospel mandate? If the Church is something we feel we must angrily defend against sinners' advances ... at some point do we lay down our weapons in order to make it the "hospital" Christ intended it to be? Or in our zeal, are we unwittingly adding to the list of spiritual casualties?
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). The next time you are drawn into an angry debate, think: What Would Jesus Say?