Fun. Nothing seems more antithetical to the Christian life than fun.
Or at least that’s the stereotype.
Many bible verses come to mind…
- Solomon commends entering the house of sorrow over the house of mirth.
- Paul talks about his many travails.
- Jesus tells his disciples that following him means bearing a cross daily.
Obviously, I have no interest in contradicting these people. We would do well to heed their words. Indeed, their words are truth. But where does that leave fun? Is there any room for just good ol’ fashioned fun?
I think so.
Makeup and Calling
Fun is rooted deeply in our makeup and calling. As people who bear the image of God, we are little creators just like our Heavenly Father. Just as He took the unformed world and began to order and shape it for His good pleasure, so we take our physical universe and shape it for our good pleasure.
We do not hang stars, but we do create magnificent works of art. We take natural substances and create paint. We take paint and mix colors. We mix colors and create worlds on canvases. As theologians have long pointed out, we are culture makers. We make symphonies. We build skyscrapers. We beatbox. We write poetry. We build bridges.
This activity is not merely busy work. It is also part of our calling. It comes from what is known as the “cultural mandate” of Genesis 1:26-28 and also Genesis 2:15. In these passages, God commands humankind to care for creation, to tend it and cultivate it. These verses are referred to as the cultural mandate because this language suggests more than just farming. It suggests the creation of tools and cities and art and yes, even fun.
Fun As Culture
If we accept art as a product of humanity’s God-given ingenuity, then we must also include fun. Fun is simply a subcategory of this kind of re-creation. I mentioned the ordering of paint to make a masterpiece. But when we order a pig skin and field and keep score, that’s the imago dei at work too. We can talk about symphonies, but we can also talk about inflatable water slides. In both cases, humans mimicked creatio ex nihilo and took something that had not previously existed and made it out of their minds and materials available. And both can be done to the glory of God…or at least the Apostle Paul thought so (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Fun rests securely in the cultural mandate and in what it means to be created in the likeness of God. It is not second tier culture. There’s no such thing. The prize doesn’t by default go to mister frowny face. Fun is us being us. For what is fun but the ordering of this physical universe for our pleasure. We can even have fun to the glory of God as we reflect His image and do it in His name with thanksgiving. And we should.
Of course, all things can become idolatry. As Timothy Keller has suggested, idolatry often happens when good things become ultimate things. Family can become an idol. Success. Money. Recognition. None of these things are bad in themselves, but when they become ultimate things, when they become the source of our hope and meaning, then we have exchanged the immortal God for paltry images made by man. Fun is certainly prone to this kind of abuse, especially in our fun lovin’ society. Not to mention people call all kinds of perverse things “fun.” And a great deal of life on this side of eternity will and should NOT be fun.
But let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. We can have fun. It’s okay to have fun. To deny fun is to deny an essence of who we are and who we are meant to be.
So have a little fun. Laugh in a meeting. Revel in the pool. Cheer at the football or futball game. Run till it hurts so good. This is you being who you are supposed to be. Don’t settle for bland spirituality. Don’t buy the bologna that greater faith means greater gravity. Laugh and sing because you are a child of God. Dance like David because the King loves you. For joy, sell everything because He’s given you the kingdom. Don’t mourn like those who have no hope. Eat and drink to the glory of God. Laugh with your children. Delight in being a physical creature made to run and jump, skip and sing.
And remember. One day God will resurrect our bodies. One day he will make earth new. Why? Just so we can have more solemn assemblies? So we can hover over the earth disembodied? No! So at last we can be who we were created to be! So we can again cultivate earth in harmony with God as we were meant to. In that day, there will no longer be any weeping. There will be no death. God himself will be our light.
And that, my friends, sounds like a lot of fun to me.