The Christmas gospel shows us how very fun God is. Appreciating the Lord’s fun-natured personality can have a huge positive impact on our life and ministry to others.
We expect God to be a judge, holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere present, eternal, and totally loving. But is God really fun? That sounds nice, but it seems to diminish God’s holiness and glory. We’ve read theology books on the attributes of God and fun does not make the list.
Sometimes we who are Bible teachers or pastors can be stuffy and wrong. The truly serious and urgent nature of our work weighs us down.
But if we read the Gospels soulfully we see that Jesus, the eternal God in human flesh, not only fulfills the standard list of divine traits, he is also happy, affectionate, surprising, playful, funny, and fun!
As new grandparents, Kristi and I have a fresh excitement for Christmas. Our two little grandchildren remind us that the child Jesus is a special source of bonding and fun for us.
You can hardly know and love a child if you don’t play with them. They’re all about sharing smiles, cuddles, wet kisses, made up games, funny faces and sounds, friendly teasing and tickling, imaginative stories, and surprise gifts.
When we greet two-year-old Juliet we show her that we’re really happy to see her and ready to play and so her face lights up! We’re bonding with her by entering her world and using her language.
It’s also true in our adult relationships that we feel most loved when someone is happy to see us. Our best friends are people we enjoy being with. Our most productive work has a playfulness about it. Sermons that are enjoyable have way more impact than those that aren’t. Even in times of grief, we need to share a sense of humor with each other to lighten our load of sadness.
The holy Son of God is truly fun — not just as an infant, but all through his life. The essential work of Christ delivering us from sin and death, reconciling us to God, and healing our broken lives and relationships is both sorrowful and joyful.
There are so many stories of the Lord Jesus being fun-natured and playful. My favorite is when the religious authorities came to collect the temple tax from him. He tells Peter to go fishing and then he directs a fish to swallow a coin and bite the worm on Peter’s hook! That is so funny! (Matthew 17:24-27).
When you read the Gospels and see Jesus blessing children, don’t imagine he’s doing something solemn in a religious way — He’s smiling, laughing, hugging, and playing with them! He’s glad to be with them. They’re having fun together (Mark 10:13-16).
Fun is an important way that Jesus shows us his Father’s love. It’s part of Jesus’ message that the Omni God is our Abba, our dear Papa (Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6). (Just writing “Papa” makes me smile because that’s what my little granddaughter calls me!)
If you’re not enjoying God’s fun side, you need to rediscover your “inner child.” Find a child to play with and read the Gospels in a children’s Bible. Or watch the Visual Bible: Matthew and see Jesus portrayed as affectionate, joyful, and playful. If you still feel stiff and serious, or like God is distant and ecclesiastical, then you need to receive the playful and enthusiastic care of a friend as God’s grace to you.
Holy Spirit, this Christmas season, show us the fun nature of Jesus and help us to receive this as God being our Abba. Amen.
Listen to a previous episode of SoulTalks on this same topic, Jesus is Playful with You. In this episode, Bill and Kristi share on Jesus’ joyful and delightful interactions in his life and ministry.
Listen to this week’s SoulTalk: We have an opportunity to pause and express gratitude even in the midst of a difficult year. We can do that genuinely and meaningfully, connecting more deeply with Jesus along the way. Bill and Kristi let you in on a family tradition they’ve practiced for over a decade, one that can increase your joy with Christ in this holiday season.