Dallas Willard once said, "Play is the creation of value that is not necessary."
I suspect playing together is the essence of pure friendship – “wasting time” together creating unnecessary value.
Of course, play is a broad idea. There’s the play of children, but there’s also the play of humor, the play of adventure and exploring. And all play can be intellectual as well as embodied. I’ve had many a strong intellectual discussion that I would rank up there with the best of play.
The thing is that whatever it involves – conversation, sports, cooking, laser tag, goofing off – something becomes play when it transcends the utilitarian. Play is not concerned with usefulness (though that may result) or practicality.
Play is captivated with delight.
That’s what it’s aiming for. And while nutritional needs may be met, and health advanced, and many other good things may result (because good always bears a surplus fruit), sheer delight is enough for play.
I think God loves to play. I have a suspicion it may be a part of everything he does. Embracing delight and throwing it out upon us with open arms.
We aren’t necessary, after all. Daffodils aren’t. Dandelions certainly aren’t. Sparrows aren’t, and neither are lilies.
But here we are, valued by God beyond what we can comprehend. Each and every one of us uniquely his favorite. Christ came to be with us and called us his friends.
I suspect it’s our own wills and the designs of the evil one and the brokenness of the world that rob us of delight, replacing it with simple duty…obligation…service…work… drudgery…suffering…depression.
Those things are all a part of this life, but they dare not become the point. They need to be redeemed and transformed by delight, by “the creation of value that is not necessary.”
It’s delight that opens us up to more. More than the necessary. More than just being faithful. More than enduring.
There is no love without delight, without more than is necessary. Without play.
It’s delight that fills us up for work, service, suffering. And delight that brings us back to ourselves (and others) when they have exhausted us. Delight is bigger than they are.
Maybe the most spiritual thing we can do is play. Whole-heartedly, unreservedly.
Maybe that’s an essential part of what the kingdom of God looks like, and of what it means to live into his kingdom today. Now. In the midst of all the mess.
Do you wanna go outside and play?