It is such a joy to watch animals at play, isn’t it? Horses chasing each other, dogs playing fetch, animals play-fighting with their family and friends, and dolphins playfully jumping out of the ocean. Even animals in captivity have built in play time. Animal experts go to great lengths to stimulate animals in captivity with daily playtime, introducing new toys and games.
Play helps animals thrive and gives them joy. Animals play for many different reasons. It allows them to practice life skills, communicate with each other and simply for the joy of playing. Animals are instinctual and in God’s grand design, he gave animals an instinctive nature for play, from the greatest beast down to birds. But leave it to humans to complicate things.
Humans have free will, we can “will” ourselves to do or not to do something. When I look around it seems many have willed themselves not to be playful. Does God want us to have fun? Well, absolutely! Look around at all the things He created in nature…it is like a giant playground. Oceans to swim, beaches to play, rivers and lakes to float, mountains and trees to climb, forests to explore and so much more! Not only did he want us to play, he created a great big ball for us to play with. It’s blue and green and beautiful.
Where did some people get the idea that Christians shouldn’t have fun? Personally, I think Christians should have more fun than anyone else on the planet. Last week, I polled about 20 teens and children on this issue. I asked them, “Does God want Christians to have fun?” Most young people paused to think about their answer, but in the end came up with mild answers ranging from “no” to “well as long as it’s clean fun”.
Maybe I was expecting an emphatic YES, but their answers surprised me. Young people are wired for fun and laughter, so learning that they were not sure if God wanted them to have fun was a little unexpected. I believe they were unsure because of how the world portrays fun. Certainly gratifying all the desires of our flesh is not the “fun” God intended for us, but certainly God intends for his people to have fun.
Scripture tells us we are to be in the world, but not of it. We are not to let the secular worldview determine our choices and our value system. That includes how we have fun. To fully answer the question “does God want Christians to have fun?” we have to look to the One we are following, Jesus. Did Jesus have fun?
Well scripture doesn’t detail every episode of roaring laughter, games played, or silly faces Jesus may have made, but we know he had fun. His first miracle was at a wedding celebration. He traveled around with his bros experiencing new people and places together. He was sharing his passion. He laughed, he told jokes, and he played. Part of his message was “be childlike” and children approach everything playfully. He was fully human and of course Jesus had fun.
Is it possible, like Jesus, to be very intentional and serious about our faith and still have a lot of fun? Absolutely! Christians are not meant to a stick in the mud that drains the life out of those around them. Jesus said, “I came to give life – life in all its fullness” John 10:10. Live life to the fullest, Christian and have some fun!