Ellen Glasgow, in her autobiography, tells of her father who was a Presbyterian elder, full of rectitude and rigid with duty: “He was entirely unselfish, and in his long life he never committed a pleasure.” Peter Jay, in a political column in the Baltimore Sun, described the sober intensity and personal austerities of one of our Maryland politicians and then threw in this line: “He dresses like a Presbyterian.”
I know there are Christians, so-called, who never crack a smile and who can’t abide a joke, and I suppose Presbyterians contribute their quota. But I don’t meet very many of them. The stereotype as such is a big lie created, presumably, by the devil. One of the delightful discoveries along the way of Christian discipleship is how much enjoyment there is, how much laughter you hear, how much sheer fun you find.
In Phyllis McGinley’s delightful book Saint-Watching there is this story: “Martin Luther’s close friend was Philipp Melanchthon, author of the Augsburg Confession. Melanchthon was a cool man where Luther was fervid, a scholar as opposed to a doer, and he continued to live like a monk even after he had joined the German Reformation…. One day Luther lost patience with Melanchthon’s virtuous reserve. ‘For heaven’s sake,’ he roared, ‘why don’t you go out and sin a little? God deserves to have something to forgive you for!'” — A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society.