If you think God is humorless, consider these animals as though seeing them for the first time: the elephant, rhinoceros, duckbilled platypus, penguin, octopus and proboscis monkey.

The Revs. Mike Atkins and Landon Coleman say God doesn’t just have a sense of humor but a very rich one and it’s good to imitate that dimension of his personality.

“It’s a dark world we live in and humor heals and gives us some relief,” said the Rev. Atkins, pastor of Kingston Avenue Baptist Church. “I grew up going to a church that didn’t have a sense of humor.

“It was serious all the time, so it was kind of a leap of faith to realize that God did have one.

“He tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that there is a time to laugh and a time to dance and that these times are a gift from God.

“I think too that there are times when we should laugh at ourselves because that helps us connect to other people.”

Atkins said there are a number of scenes in the New Testament where Jesus has fun with his disciples.

“At a certain point people accuse him of being a glutton and a drunkard because he is having so much fun,” he said.

Atkins said Jesus’s good humor is apparent in John 1:47-48 where he sees Nathanael coming and says, “Here is a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false,” and when Nathanael asks how Jesus knows him, Jesus says, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

“There are many pictures of Jesus laughing with people,” he said. “In John 15:11 he says, ‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.’”

Atkins also cited First Samuel 5:1-5 where the Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the temple beside their very heavy idol Dagon, which is found to have fallen and smashed to pieces on the mornings of the next two days.

The Rev. Coleman, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, said the Bible “does suggest that God has a sense of humor, not silly slapstick humor but humor intended to make a point.

“At Babel mankind came together to build a massive tower that reached into the heavens, all in an attempt to make a name for themselves,” he said. “When God inspired the Biblical author to write this story he inspired the following line, ‘And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of man had built (Genesis 11:5).

“Mankind’s tower was so small, God had to come down to see it.”

Coleman said here are verses that describe God laughing at the rebellion of sinners like Psalm 2, which says, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

“The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed… He who sits in the heavens laughs.”

“These verses do not suggest that God thinks human rebellion is ha-ha funny but that the very idea of a creature rebelling against the creator is laughable,” Coleman said.

Other examples are Jeremiah’s being sent on a prophetic mission that involves ruined underwear, Isaiah’s being sent to preach naked as a graphic illustration of what would happen in the Exile and Ezekiel’s being told to make a model of Jerusalem to be destroyed “not unlike a child playing with and destroying a Lego city,” he said.

“Elijah openly mocked the prophets of Baal when their deity failed to send fire from heaven (1 Kings 18)”

Coleman said Jesus often used hyperbole, or humor based on exaggeration, to make his points.

“He spoke about logs in eyes, swallowing camels and cutting off limbs,” he said. “Jesus also gave people funny nicknames like ‘Rock’ and ‘Sons of Thunder.’

“There is nothing in the New Testament that suggests Jesus was boring, dull or overly serious. He loved children and children love to joke and laugh.”