Thoughts on Play – Part III
The seminal theological work on play is Jurgen Moltmann’s A Theology of Play. It’s a dense tome. So with some…
The seminal theological work on play is Jurgen Moltmann’s A Theology of Play. It’s a dense tome. So with some help from Ben Witherington III, I’ve tried to distill a few of the gold nuggets for you, with some of my own ideas thrown in as well:
- Play is often thought of as a hankering for the past when we were immature and childish. But in truth, it foreshadows the joy and completion of the coming Kingdom of God. Engaging fully in life-giving play is a pretty close thing to what heaven will be like. In the New Earth all manner of drudgery, disease, decay, and death will be left behind. In those moments when we are on the floor making faces with a toddler, reading a story with a loved one, blowing bubbles, working a puzzle, knitting for fun, enjoying a good meal with dear friends in a relaxed state, or laughing uncontrollably with those who share our joy – in these ways we are bringing to our lips an appetizer of the banquet God has prepared for us in the eschaton. Play is not useless activity. It is practice for heaven.
- In play we become like the children Jesus suggested we needed to become like in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Tim Hansel, one of my favorite authors on this subject, described his young children as “midget gurus of play.” They have so much to teach us! They focus intently on play, engage fully, experience deeply, show their emotions, and embrace the moment. Oh to be free like that! Surely their eagerness for play and their joyful vulnerability is part of what Jesus was commending to us! The prophet describes the Kingdom of God as a place where children are playing together in the streets (Zechariah 8:5). Not only are we to work hard to make a world where children can play safely in the streets, we are to be those children playing.