Theme of the Week: Essential Spirituality
Bible Verse: “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:8
Scripture Reading: Matthew 12:1-14
Play! Spirituality encompasses the whole of our lives as they are lived under God. Leisure, in various forms, is part of every whole and balanced life. And it must also be a component of our spirituality. Somehow we need to see leisure and recreation as also under the grace of God, and as contributing an essential element of our spirituality.
The theological basis for play is actually found in the principle of the sabbath rest. God created the earth in six days, and on the seventh day he rested. Then God ordained that the Hebrew week was to be a rhythm of six and one. Work was included, certainly, but so also was rest, a day in which work was prohibited.
For many people the principle of sabbath rest has come to mean a day of religious activities; the more religion the better. Certainly we need one day in seven in which we gather with God’s people for worship and ministry. But we need one day in seven for rest, renewal and recreation just as much. It is a day to cease from our labors as we enjoy the fruit of God’s work and ours – delighting in our families, our friends, our homes and neighborhoods, as well as delighting in God.
The principle of Sabbath rest involves much more than merely “one day a week.” It refers to that whole dimension of our lives which we live in simple, child-like joy under God’s mercy as his redeemed people. We rest from our vocations at some point every day, not just one day a week; we delight in God’s created order and his gifts to us – every day, not just one day in seven.
But many Christians need to learn to play. They have consciences that frequently leave them guilty, hesitant and inhibited, because they feel play is questionable activity. They have grown up with a work ethic that assumes all redeemed time is devoted to work. We may need to learn to play because, for too long we have simply neglected this fundamental dimension of a full Christian life. There are at least three means by which play can be incorporated and affirmed within our spirituality.
First, the component of play in our spirituality could include developing a hobby. A hobby can be defined as any regular, enjoyable activity, which may have no intrinsic worth in itself other than its affirmation of beauty and order.
Second, this component of our spirituality could include participation in music and/or the arts. More than any other dimension of culture, it is in music and the arts that man has the privilege of most fully responding to his identity as bearer of the image of God.
Third, we need to play – just for the fun of it. In play we affirm that our hope does not rest in our labors, but in God.
Gordon T. Smith in Essential Spirituality. Copyright ©1989 by Gordon T. Smith.
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