Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Theology Of Playfulness

I’m sitting with these words, Isaiah 55:1-9, this week. They depict God engaging his people in role play (how else would you describe buying things without money? my daughter’s school includes an area set up with role play shops to help the pupils practice every-day conversation in various languages) and hide-and-seek.

This is the behaviour of a good father with a young child.

In the game of hide-and-seek, we hide ourselves from the other in order that the child might experience the delight of finding the parent – and the parent experience the delight of being found. It is a playful behaviour that strengthens the bonds between us: that says, you belong to me and I belong to you.

In the game of role play, we help children learn life skills, and not only skills but values. The particular game that Isaiah records for us is concerned with justice. It is an invitation to internalise a way of being in the world that will find externalised expression in acts and structures of justice – which is our splendour.

In playing hide-and-seek we discover that we are made to know and be known by God, to share in his love.

In role play we discover that we are made to represent God’s life-affirming reign of justice and mercy – and what that reign looks like.

Being and doing. Covenant and kingdom. Hand-in-hand.

As a friend of mine once put it, Life Is Too Important To Be Taken Seriously. You will end up lamenting the life you don’t have rather than living the life you have been given to the full.

Where is God hiding from you today? (And have you given up looking?)

What does God want you to discover through play today? (Something where you have no competence and worry about looking foolish; or ignore his invitation because you are doing something Very Important instead...)


  1. Great post, Dr D., thanks. I too am living with this passage this week in advance of Sunday... I am hearing it as an eschatalogical kingdom vision - all are invited to come, and all can receiveWhat turns the vision into reality is the overthrow of spiritual malaise, hence "Seek the Lord" (which I read semi-imperatively), coupled with the reality that God may be found, indeed has offered himself to be found in Jesus.

  2. thanks for dropping by, Michael!
    One of the ways in which I am experiencing God playing hide-and-seek at the moment is in the looking for my next post (my current post ending by June). It certainly isn't passive on my part, but in my at times growing anxiety at God's apparent hidden-ness in it all, I am (and need to be) reminded that he is hiding in a particular place - that next post, as yet undiscovered - thinking, Just wait until my boy finds me here!