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Jesus Let His Hair Down

Jesus Let His Hair Down

I love to have fun, but sometimes I feel a little guilty about it. It feels like I’m wasting my time.

Should I really be throwing this Frisbee around when I could be working on something that matters? Is it OK to play video games or am I just sustaining adolescence? As a responsible adult, should I value work as something intrinsically better than play?

This is part of a monthly series produced in partnership with He Gets Us.

We Americans tend to pride ourselves on our work ethic. We work long hours for our hard-earned wages. That’s good and commendable. Many excellent sermons and books have rightly upheld our moral obligation to fight laziness and provide for our loved ones. Of course, all good things can be taken to the extreme. We may mistakenly look for our identity in our work, becoming so myopically focused that we nearly work ourselves to death. 

Although God values our hard work, he also takes playtime seriously, too.  And so should we. How do we know God likes to have fun? We need only open the Bible.

Israel was instructed by God to have days of gladness (Numbers 10:10) which included victory celebrations and festivals. And their festivals would have rivaled the largest celebrations our society has seen today — all of the fun without any of the guilt. God commanded His people to celebrate all the days during the Feast of Weeks (what the Greeks called Pentecost) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:9-17).

Think about that. The Israelites were under divine command to celebrate and give thanks to God as an expression of gratitude for God’s abundant provision. By stopping work, resting, and — here’s the most important part — celebrating, His people were acknowledging that everything they had came not from themselves, but from Him. God took this act of celebration so seriously that He threatened to exile His people if they did not “serve the Lord [their] God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48).

Even the restoration of God’s people from exile involves laughter, fun and dancing (Jeremiah 30:19; 31:4). After the return of Christ, His people will enjoy an incredible marriage feast (Revelation 19:6-10). Let’s not forget God created wine for the purpose of gladdening our hearts (Psalm 104:15). If Jesus made great wine to honor and celebrate what God had brought together at the wedding of Cana, how sweet will a great heavenly feast be for us in the future? How freely will we be celebrating all together?

Throughout His time on earth, Jesus did everything intentionally, including relaxing and having fun. He not only knew how to celebrate on His own, but He also made sure to include others in His fun. From His disciples to people He met on the road, Jesus understood that fellowship was designed for fun just as much as it was designed for accountability and growth. 

So the next time you feel like you need to celebrate something, call a few friends and rejoice in the exciting news together. Celebrate with a big feast or a fun night out. Whether the celebration is big or small, it’s always better to have someone else by your side.

The examples of rest and celebration following intense bouts of work are threaded throughout the Old Testament — from harrowing battles to long pilgrimages.  When David brought the ark of God back to Jerusalem, he was “making merry before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:5, 21; 1 Chronicles 13:8). David rested from his long journey and celebrated with all his might as a form of worship. As a man after God’s own heart, he knew it was right and good to be at play before God.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. Laughter and joy are present throughout scripture, from God’s people being filled with laughter (Psalm 126:2) to rejoicing with an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8). God fills our hearts with gladness, especially in times that feel joyless, to remind us that He is in control and we can not only rest, but enjoy life. Just like there’s a time to mourn, there is also a time to frolic. As your seasons of hard work ebb and flowunderstand that God intended for you to have the freedom to enjoy playtime.

In fact, gladness has a purpose. It’s meant to point us to God in worship (Acts 14:17). If God loves to have fun and if He loves for His people to have fun, I am reconsidering how I think about fun. If I bear the image of God and if God seems to revel in pure and honest playfulness, perhaps I don’t take fun seriously enough.

Yes, put in a hard day’s work. Yes, be responsible with your time. But the God who worked six days also took the seventh to rest. The God who holds the universe together also created our bodies to play and our hearts to be glad.

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