Opening Thoughts On God and Play

Does God play? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Just a couple of nights ago, I went to bed wondering why it is that I, like so many of us out there I am sure, have a tendency to not do things I should be doing and instead spend more time on secondary things. Why is it that so many times God doesn’t seem as enjoyable as other things? Why is it that many of us don’t really think of Bible reading as something done for joy?

We all know we need to be about the work of the kingdom, but we don’t have much about the joy and the fun of the kingdom. If anything, many in our culture view God as a killjoy. This is especially true when it comes to sexual taboos. Some people speculate that a lot of Christians and God Himself live with this great concern that somewhere out there someone might be enjoying themselves.

What if we have it backwards, which I think we do? What if instead of being a killjoy, God is out there trying to optimize the joy that we have? The sexual rules, many of us know, aren’t to hold us back from fun. They’re to preserve a deeper level of joy than would be thought before and to keep us from just using random people for our own enjoyment. We might get some joy out of such an activity, but it is a wrong way to get joy since it treats people like objects.

Chesterton said years ago that God has no problem with what we call the monotonous. The sun rises every morning because God is like a small child who sees it rise and then says, “Do it again!” “Do it again!” “Do it again!” All daisies look alike because God has never got bored with making one of them.

Jesus says in John 5 that He is working and His Father is always working. What if we replaced it with playing? What if part of the reason God does all He does is for joy? After all, there was no need for creation. God was not lacking anything. There was nothing wrong with God or no task He was assigned. Why create? For joy.

What if it is as Lewis said years ago? Our desires are not too strong. They are too weak. We are far too easily pleased. What if we actually hold notions that God doesn’t want us to enjoy our own lives?

This isn’t far-fetched. For my senior sermon when I was in Bible College, I preached on wonder and someone told me about the cover of Moody magazine from a recent issue. “Is It Right To Enjoy My Life?” It’s a sad commentary on Christian culture where such a question has to be asked.

While we are to delight in God, He also gave us other things. Paul tells us in 1 Tim. 6:17 that God gives us all things richly for our enjoyment. This is also talking about material possessions. Nothing wrong with enjoying them. The reason we work also is so we won’t have to work. We look forward to that time of leisure. Play is something that is done just for its own sake.

There is much to play with. Chesterton once said he would answer skeptics on the problem of pain if they would answer on the problem of pleasure. Why does the world have multiple colors? God could have created a world without them easily. We are made to have to eat and drink, but that doesn’t mean food and drink had to taste good. We are made that the species has to reproduce, but that doesn’t mean that reproduction had to be turned into a fun event.

Perhaps we Christians need to be people of more joy. We have earned a reputation of being Puritans with regard to pleasure. (Which is indeed a false notion. The Puritans were really a very fun-loving people.) If anyone is having joy in this life, it should be the Christian. Why aren’t we?

In Christ,
Nick Peters