I'm a fan of irreverence. Certainly, it can slide into the realm of disrespect. But a little good-natured irreverence is, in my mind, something of a spiritual practice.
Picture a couple kids who come across a man sleeping on a subway. They egg each other on, daring one another to poke the gentleman and run away. They creep closer, giddy with nerves, and finally the boldest of the bunch reaches out and thumbs the guy on the nose.
Maybe the guy gets really mad and offended. But if we're imagining that this slumbering fellow is God, well, I think God would be overjoyed to see that one of his beloved children had ventured close enough to make contact.
Irreverence gets us closer to God. And even if we approach with temerity, we are nevertheless closer to the One who desperately wants to embrace us. Soon enough, the child is disarmed by God's boundless delight, and the irreverence is transformed into reverence and relationship.