Bible Society of South Africa
Carina Francke

Relationships – Day 2

Relationships: Play together

Bible text(s)

16“Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the market place. One group shouts to the other, 17‘We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn't dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn't cry!’

Matthew 11:16-17GNBOpen in Bible reader

It is common knowledge that play can stimulate children intellectually and increase development and growth of the brain, and form new neuron connections. Emotionally, play is an outlet for energy and stress; it makes you relax and rekindle a love and appreciation for life — especially in the lives of adults.

However, the most important advantage of play is that it fosters relationships between people. When playful communication and interaction is valued, it cultivates an atmosphere for comfortable and easy connection as well as intimacy.

One way to get it right is to watch how children do it. Their creative, imaginative games of lions and crocodiles, moms and dads with paper doll children, villains and superheroes, succeed in creating cohesion. They get angry, cry, laugh and dance to the beat of “playing” in their hearts. They play the issues of life into the background and find in and with each other a fellowship that makes them happy. This is how Jesus describes children playing: “They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’ ” (Matthew 11:16-17).

There is no evidence that Jesus played games with children, but there is proof that He made time for them. To Him they were the example of the attitude adults should convey when receiving his kingdom (Matthew 19:13). He must have had a special playful approach ability for children to sit on his lap without hesitation that allowed Him to wrap his arms around them and sit quietly while He blessed them. He did not hesitate to scold the disciples for the way they treated the children.

He also took his disciples aside frequently. In those intimate moments He shared his Father’s heart with them and infused them with hope for the future. Through His narratives, parables and the way He did things, He created an atmosphere where people could easily relate with Him and share their needs.

You might ask: Where does “play” feature in these examples? You see, to play demands that you make time in a loaded schedule. This is exactly what Jesus did — He intentionally created moments where He, in His humanity, could really become human to others so that they could experience true relationship.

I cannot help but wonder: If play makes it possible to cultivate and deepen relationships, then why do we find intentional play so difficult?

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
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