In this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday experiment, we upend the way we frame our relationship with Jesus—from a serious slog through principles and disciplines to an adventure on the playground. Here’s how you can help your teenagers re-imagine their life as a disciple in the childlike way that Jesus, over and over, urged us to embrace.
We want to get it right, and we really want others to get it right, too.
This is why we would not typically describe our relationship with Jesus, or with others who follow him, as playful. When we read from the Bible, we always sound serious, and we assume everything Jesus said sounded serious when he said it, too. We often treat our life with him like a grind-it-out discipline, and we have very little stomach for anything that smells like it’s even a little bit unorthodox.
But I’m a recovering critic, and today my life with Jesus looks a whole lot more like a trip to the playground than an appointment with the IRS.
A long time ago my friend Bob Krulish and I partnered to create a weekly experiment in Jesus-centered community called CAFÉ—I can’t remember if that was an acronym for something, or just an invitation to a different kind of discipleship environment. Every week we concocted a new way to practice more experiential ways of relating with Jesus, and with one another. The atmosphere was always charged with anticipation and excitement and… play. In fact, Bob used the word “play” to describe everything we did with Jesus—he not only changed the way I talk, he changed the way I think about the Christian life.
Jesus is real, not an idea or a concept or a mythic figure. And that means that we expect real things to happen in our relationship with him. We expect Jesus to say and do things in our lives today, this moment. And we trust his Spirit to guide us in the most mundane aspects of our day. It’s a playful way to live our life—an adventure of risk and trust and a relaxed openness to possibility. Let’s say you were a child again, and you’ve just arrived at a vast playground, with new and exciting slides and monkey bars and castle-like thingys you’ve never tried before. You’d never treat this sort of nirvana as if it was a “to-do” list—no, you’d climb on the first available thing and start, well, playing.
After his disciples tried to shoo away the parents who were bringing their babies to him, Jesus responded sharply with this: “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (Luke 18:16-17). Let that sink in… When we adult-erize our life with Jesus, we stand outside the Kingdom of God—we keep ourselves from true intimacy and understanding. We miss the values and norms and truths that are waiting for us in the homeland of the Trinity.
And so, on this Whiteboard Wednesday, Becky and I demonstrate what it’s like to play on Jesus’ playground, and how you can help your kids do the same.
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- Barna: State of the Bible 2016 (American Bible Society)
- LIVE Books of the Bible
- Jesus-Centered Bible
- Pierced New Testament for Teenagers