When we came up with the theme for this quarter’s issue of Inspire magazine— “Play”—I immediately thought of a passage toward the end of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity which is connected to the theme.
I’ll quote the passage in full here, and, appropriately, would like to play a little game with you as you read it: I’d like to ask you how Lewis is going to conclude the passage. What will be the final word? And no reading ahead to find the answer!
Here’s the passage, in which he’s talking about how Christianity makes us “new people,” and how some of these people are already here, walking around with us even now:
Already the new [people] are dotted here and there all over the earth. Some, as I have admitted, are still hardly recognisable: but others can be recognised. Every now and then one meets them. Their very voices and faces are different from ours: stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off. They are, I say, recognisable; but you must know what to look for. They will not be very like the idea of ‘religious people’ which you have formed from your general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think that you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less. (We must get over wanting to be NEEDED: . . . that is the hardest of all temptations to resist.) They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from. When you have recognised one of them, you will recognise the next one much more easily. And I strongly suspect (but how should I know?) that they recognise one another immediately and infallibly, across every barrier of colour, sex, class, age, and even of creeds. In that way, to become holy is rather like joining a secret society. To put it at the very lowest, it must be [BLANK].
So, what word do you think Lewis is driving towards to conclude this passage? Perhaps meaningful? Or powerful? Or maybe exciting? Profound? Serious? Inspiring?
Any of those could easily work, I suppose. But no. As Lewis draws to the end of what is quite possibly the most important Christian book of the 20th century, he concludes this passage with this sentence: “To put it at the very lowest, it must be great fun.”
Great fun. Would you, in a million years, have expected those words to conclude this line of thought? If not, perhaps it’s because we sometimes take our faith too seriously. And, as the various articles in this issue so helpfully remind us, our faith is supposed to be connected to fun and to play. They are not just “add-ons” or “extras,” but instead are important parts of the life God has blessed us with. As Jesus reminds us in John 10:10, he came that we may have life, and have it abundantly.
That means God not only wants us to “get by” or to “survive” this thing called life. No, God wants us to flourish. God wants us to thrive. God wants us to experience joy. God, as Lewis suggests, wants us to have fun, and therefore invites us to live lives filled with play.
What better time of year to consider this than right now, as we move into summer months after a cold winter and a slow, dreary spring. And so, I pray that you, in the months ahead, might allow God to direct you towards moments of play, and that, with C.S. Lewis, you might recognize all the ways we are invited to have “great fun” in this life.