|Close Up: Leonard Sweet|
|Written by Leslie Santamaria|
|Tuesday, 11 February 2014 03:58 PM America/New_York|
Latest project: The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn’t Have To Be Such Hard Work ($15.99, 9781414373621, Tyndale Momentum/Tyndale House
What is your goal for this book? The church has rewritten the words of Jesus from “Come, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” to “Come, all you weary and heavy laden and I will give you more work.” To become a disciple of Jesus is almost to be sentenced to hard labor, so far removed are we from the Hebrew understanding of life as Shabbat Shalom. It’s time to trade in our hard hats or pinstripes for a sombrero—with some confetti thrown in.
Why do you refer to play as a gift from God? When we first meet God in the Bible, God is playing in the dirt, making mud pies. Creation is not God at work, but God at play. Play is the oxygen for creativity, which sparks imagination, which ignites innovation, which combusts in paradigm shifts and sometimes detonates revolutions. My friend Todd Fadel says it best: “Play is your secret weapon.” In our creation story, we don’t get “labor” until the curse and banishment from the Garden. We have made life and worship into a work zone of human activity, rather than the playground of the Spirit who enlivens and enspirits us.
What is “Godplay”? Godplay is a fundamental approach to life based not on work and worry, but on God’s invitation for us to skip and dance all the way home. The march to Zion is not toil and travail, but a dance of Shabbat and Shalom by which we “enter into the joy of the Lord.” Godplay is living your life in such a way that you don’t work toward the pleasure and acceptance of God, but live from it and play in it. Any time you approach life with the joy of a child, it’s Godplay. Any time you praise and worship God, it’s Godplay. Any time missional living ramifies relationally in an incarnational way, it’s Godplay. The world needs more play, more God, more Godplay and Godplayers, not more work and more workers.
You write, “The quality of life depends on the quality of our play.” Would you elaborate? The greatest artistry, beauty and excellence come from a play paradigm, not a work paradigm. The provisional title for this book was You Don’t Work a Violin. If you want to live a life of beauty, truth and goodness, you need to learn how to “play” your life. We are all artists, but our “medium” is our life; our canvas is our total being and identity. Our primary brush is the play-strokes of the soul.
What else would help Christian retailers promote The Well-Played Life? The implications of a theology of play ramify in every direction of life. It has major implications for our relationships and marriages, where we tend to try to “work it out” rather than “play it through.” It even revolutionizes the whole world of education. We need an education system designed to find and nourish all talents, not just some talents. Every child deserves discovery. And this is best done through play, not standardized testing or rigid curriculum planning.