Can you recall the last time you thought of the Christian life as playful? Me either. In fact, I believe most people would be very reluctant to put the words “playful” and “Christian” in the same sentence. Imagine then, how surprising and intriguing it was to see that someone had written an entire book on the subject. I recently finished reading the book The Well-Played Life – Why Pleasing God Doesn’t Have to Be Such Hard Work by Leonard Sweet. From beginning to end, the book tells the tale of the pleasure God takes in people, and how, as we humans progress through the Three Ages described by Dr. Sweet, we should live in a way that returns the compliment. Suggestions for joining in the fun of “playing with God in the Garden” – the best metaphor for discipleship according to Dr. Sweet – are skillfully and imaginatively presented in The Well-Played Life.
Why is it, do you think, that Christians are perceived as hardworking, humorless party-poopers? The Well-Played Life examines how this image came about and reminds us that the only people who can redesign this perception are Christians. Contained in the chapters are many vivid examples of joyful, exciting and God-pleasing events in scripture, especially in the life of Christ, which can inspire us to look at our lives as believers not as work, but as happy, creative activity. In the early pages of the book there is a very provocative thought tossed out to us: ”It’s time to abolish work. It’s time for a theology of play.”
Using the frame work of the Three Ages – First Age (0-30) Novice Players; Second Age (30-60)Real Players; Third Age (60-90+) Master Players , Dr. Sweet defines each age, pointing out their challenges and strengths under chapter headings such as Follow the Leader, Cave Dwellers, Play in the Dirt, Rock-Paper-Scissors, and Angry Birds. But don’t get the notion that this book is all cotton candy and Skittles. It is filled with goodness, truth, and beauty as well as puzzlers, pointers and playful practices for those who wish to live “in sync with the Spirit,” in Dr. Sweet’s words.
I must admit I had fun reading this book, but it also convicted me. I saw that at times I am among the rock-faced-and-rigid barrier of believers that can be so intimidating to those who don’t yet know Christ. I would rather be identified as a member of the family of living stones that form the spiritual dwelling of a joy-filled Jesus. If that transfiguration is going to happen, I better get praying, and playing.
A summary of this book in less than 140 characters: When we are clothed in God’s glory, we are in our play clothes.
Disclaimer – I was sent a free copy of the book The Well-Played Life – Why Pleasing God Doesn’t Have to Be Such Hard Work by Leonard Sweet from Tyndale Momentum. My opinions are my own.