Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship. As a result, their meanings and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster than they can keep them in repair, and their lifestyles resemble a cast of characters in search of a plot.
Lots of us are guilty here. Too many hours beyond what is necessary or reasonable cut us off from the people in our lives. It communicates their lack of importance in relation to company, career, or money.
Working at play?
Ever see somebody play golf or tennis "to relax" only to fight the course, throw her racquet, or otherwise create a greater need for something to relax him? Know anyone who built his life around sports? The relaxing and regenerative power of play gets lost in that sort of intensity.
Playing at worship?
From simply being present for a worship assembly to taking time for private Bible reading and prayer, it seems all too easy to drop God in order to save time for other things. That says something about how important — or unimportant — God was from the very start, doesn't it?
That brings us to play. It really isn't necessary to be quite so competitive. Enjoy tennis or the lake without having to do something better than someone else. Maybe you should just watch a sunset, take a walk, or put your feet up and listen to a favorite piece of music — without feeling guilty for doing so.
Then, when the time for worship comes, be thankful. Thank God for allowing you to be productive without being obsessive, to take pleasure in his creation without being consumed by it. Acknowledge him as the giver of every good gift that has come your way in life.
The wise man in the ways of God reminded us many years ago:
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NIV).
There is a time for everything, so long as everything is kept in its place.