The church is often accused of being a boring place. Not for those who have experienced holy laughter.
The phenomenon caught widespread attention in the 90’s, as it was a sign mark to charismatic meetings associated with Rodney Howard Browne and the Toronto Blessing. Holy laughter was described as a “manifestation” of the Holy Spirit, along with shaking, crying and falling down. The practice received lots of criticism though, as some pointed out that holy laughter isn’t mentioned in the Bible and to a large extent seems plain weird – why would the Spirit want you to laugh?
One of my Youtube subscribers, Justus Tams, asked me for a video on this topic, so here it is:
My take on the phenomenon is that it isn’t a manifestation of the Spirit but rather a human reaction to the Spirit filling the person with joy, which He is fully capable of (Rom 14:17, Gal 5:6). Alternatively, it is just a person laughing at a church meeting, no Holy Spirit involved. Sometimes someone laughs because a demon freaks out in the presence of the Lord. It all depends on the person’s history and character and on the context and focus of the meeting.
As I’ve explained in my Kundalini Myth post, these types of reactions are not what we should base discernment on. That is, it’s not whether people laugh or not that is going to tell you whether they are possessed by a demon or influenced by the Holy Spirit. To make such a decision, we should look at more important things like if they preach Jesus Christ coming in the flesh or if they bear good fruits of evangelism, holiness etc.
I’ve actually laughed myself on a couple of occassions when the Holy Spirit has done amazing things in my life, though it didn’t last very long. In the video I share one of those instances, when Heidi Baker had prayed for me and I proclaimed “I dedicate my life to combine signs and wonders with peace and justice, and to resurrect all of Pentecost.” Heidi said something like “Yeah, that’s it!”, gently touched my forehead and I dropped to the ground, laughing and praising the Lord. Until then, I had been crying and sobbing for half an hour, begging God for revival. It was an emotional experience.
For Western Christians especially, emotions can be a bit weird. We’re not used to them, especially not in church. But I think that’s why the Spirit especially wants to touch us with emotional wackiness, to break our glass bubbles and let our spirits free.