I don’t want to brag or anything, but when I was in college I got published.
Okay, it wasn’t exactly a literary journal or anything. There was a free magazine for students that was distributed on college campuses across the country inside our school newspaper. I was reading it one day, and came across a request for readers to send in their jokes, and so I wrote one down that I thought was funny and mailed it in. To my surprise, they published it, gave me credit, and sent me a check for $25.
What was the joke? Well, since you asked, here goes: “What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back? A stick.” (Get it? A stick?)
There’s nothing like a good joke to get your weekend started, and you are probably thinking, yes, and that is nothing like a good joke. But the one thing I do know about jokes and humor is that what makes them funny is there is usually some level of irony involved. Hence, a stick that you call a boomerang, if it doesn’t do what a boomerang does, which is come back when you throw it, well, in the end, it’s just a stick.
In this case, it is a contradiction to think of a boomerang that doesn’t do what a boomerang is supposed to do. Another word for it is anoxymoron, which is an expression that is internally inconsistent, a contradiction within itself. That is the ultimate in verbal irony.
Perhaps you have seen some of the lists people have put together of humorous oxymorons. Here are a few of my favorites:
I used to have a friend who pastored a church in Mississippi called Harmony Baptist Church, and he said that was a contradiction in terms. (And he said that even before they fired him!) Sadly, there is no shortage of ironic and oxymoronic behavior that goes on in church life. Which brings up another joke: What do you call a Christian who is not sharing his faith? A contradiction.
Okay, not all irony is funny. But you will remember that when Jesus called His first disciples, He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They were already fishermen, but he was going to give them a whole new purpose for their lives. I think Jesus offers that same invitation to those of us who would call ourselves Christians today, twenty centuries later. And, if we choose to follow, we are choosing to “fish.”
By Jesus’ definition, a disciple is someone who not only follows, but one who makes disciples. It comes with the territory of being a disciple. Likewise, if we are truly following, we will be fishing. Conversely, if we are not fishing, we’re not really following Jesus. To do otherwise is a contradiction in terms, as oxymoronic as “military intelligence.”
So let me challenge and encourage you to choose to fully follow Jesus this week, as you obediently share the gospel with our lost world and seek to make disciples in His name. He will be honored, you will be blessed, the lost will be saved, and more disciple-makers will be made. And that’s no joke.
May He bless your life as you serve Him this week. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
On Oxymorons and Fishing