On your mark… get set… PLAY!

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.

4 thoughts on “On your mark… get set… PLAY!

  1. Teri, I LOVE this!…and I’m eager to read the book! I know I take myself too seriously a lot of the time…and I don’t think anyone would describe me as playful…but I’d sure like to be! Hopefully it’s not too late, now that I’m in that last stage. Joy and delight…I experience those all the time in my walk with Christ. Here’s praying they will be evident to others!!

  2. Hi Terri! Thanks for reading and commenting. The Well-Played Life is a great book, one that caused me to reconsider some things I hadn’t thought about in a long time. The idea of Christians incorporating a playful attitude and a joy-based relationship with God brought to mind the beautiful book of Philippians – which has so much wisdom to share on this very subject. Thanks again for stopping by and for your kind words, too!

  3. One of my favorite quotes from The Well-Played Life is on p. 166: “If our dancing partner is Jesus, … we just need to maintain our poise, practice our posture, learn our steps, stay in sync with the music, and enjoy the dance. No matter how many times we fall or step on toes, Jesus calls us to get back up and keep stepping out. Real disciples … shake off the dust and keep on dancing.” Leonard lives that, don’t you think, Teri? From this book I take courage to join the dance, too — or at least set my sights in that direction! I’m so glad you wrote this beautiful review!

    • Hi Tracey – That is a great quote! And what a great visual, to picture Jesus as our dancing partner for the long slow dance of discipleship. Yes, I do think Leonard lives that. Would you ever consider writing a review of the Well-Played Life for Amazon? The book will be released tomorrow. Yes, I do think Leonard lives that. Thank you for your comments, Tracey!

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