I love to have fun, but sometimes I feel a little guilt 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 I am I just sustaining adolescence? As a responsible adult, should I value work as something intrinsically better than play?
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. But if we can’t find a way to enjoy the simple God-given pleasures of life and play, we may just work ourselves to death.
Of course, all good things can be abused. But what follows is an attempt to free us up from the pressure of finding identity only in our work. We can become so myopic that we miss out God’s intentions for fun and play and celebration.
God takes playtime seriously. We should too.
How do we know God likes to have fun? We need only open the Scriptures:
Israel was to have days of gladness (Numbers 10:10) which included victory celebrations and festivals. And their festivals would have put Mardi Gras to shame—all of the fun without any of the guilt. God’s people were commanded to celebrate for days and 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 for good food and good wine to have fun with. God took their happiness 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 and 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 at the wedding of Cana, how good will that heavenly vintage be? How glad will our hearts be then? What kind of reckless celebration will that be?
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). He was celebrating with all his might and it was a form of worship. It was right and good to be at play before God.
Psalm 104:26 says God created the Leviathan for a very specific purpose. Whatever the Leviathan was (a crocodile, a whale, a now-extinct sea monster, etc.), the Bible says God created it to play in the sea. Its very purpose was to frolic and romp and celebrate the joy of swimming.
What kind of God creates such an animal? What does such a childlike creature reveal about the heart of our God?
God has an eternal sense of playfulness that we are free to imitate.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. The word translated “laugh” is the same word used to describe the playing of the Leviathan. There is a time to frolic. You might not be in that time right now, but understand that God gives his people an enormous freedom to enjoy playtime.
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, we need to consider how we 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, do 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.