THE PLAYFULNESS OF GOD

I was taking Israel, then seven, to “Toys R Us.” I asked jokingly, “What is it about kids? They love toys.”
He answered, “Kids are playful.”
“And what about adults?” I inquired.
“They go to meetings.” (I think I’d rather be a kid.)

I’ve come to the conviction that one side of God’s character is playfulness. Consider the following four statements. First…

Creation is the idea of a playful God. He didn’t create out of need. Creation is the overflow of His abundant joy in Himself. John Piper says that “in creation God ‘went public’…All his works are simply the spillover of his infinite exuberance for his own excellence” (The Pleasures of God, p. 44,45.) Listen to God describing His greatness to Job, speaking about when “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Picture it! Hear it!

In 1989, two Harvard astronomers discovered what has been called the “Great Wall”, a string of galaxies stretching hundreds of millions of light years across the known universe. If one light year is just less than six trillion miles, imagine the vastness. He made more than enough stars, and the psalmist says that He has named them all! God spiraled them out, and the angels applauded with excitement.

I appreciate the poem of Thomas Gray, called “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.” It describes flowers on the ocean floor and in the desert, seen by no one but the Creator God, who delights in the beauty of His handiwork:
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Listen to God reflect on His creation. He finishes a day’s work and says, “Oh, good!” Then He breathes life into Adam and says, “Very good!” God is taking delight in His creation, especially those most like Himself.

Karen and I have six children. We chose this many because the dishes were piling up and the lawn was growing long. We needed someone to do our work. Not really. Children were the outcome of our love for one another.

And so with God. His purpose was not utilitarian. Love was the motive. Paul says that “He predestined us in love unto adoption…” (Ephesians 1:5). He has angels to work for Him. We also work, but unlike the angels, we call God “Father.” And God, who is eternally a Father, chose to create people, who bring joy to His Father heart. And like Israel said, “Kids are playful.”

Heaven is also the idea of a playful God. Think of it—an eternity of bliss. Non-stop celebrating. Incessant, undiminished joy. That might be difficult for type A’s. Some people might feeling like calling a committee meeting after a few billion years.

Jesus had heaven on His mind as He walked in the shadow of the cross. Listen to His invitation to the faithful: “Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21). Heaven satisfies the joy of a playful, extravagantly loving God. Moments later Jesus describes an awesome judgment scene. We hear the King saying, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). God has been waiting from the inauguration of history to show His children His lavish love. Now we have the down-payment. Heaven is the delivery of the full inheritance, and it will take an eternity for the complete disclosure: “…that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Part II next.

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