I remember when I was a kid I could play for an endless amount of time all by myself, yeah all by myself. I would play war, in which I would often take on a whole army, like the kids from "Red Dawn." I would play light saber wars, where I would battle villains from Star Wars for control of the galaxy. And I would play all kinds of wiffle ball, and I'm happy to say that I won several league MVP awards and lost a ton of wiffle balls by hitting them on the middle school roof. I had plenty of friends, but I often enjoyed time with just me and my crazy imagination. To be honest, I would get so caught up playing all kinds of pretend stuff, that it really seemed like I had spent a full day hanging out with friends and doing whatever it was I was doing. I would say that spending some time in the land of pretend was pretty harmless, but it could sometimes make reality either a little boring or just a little too intense. I could either be defeating Darth Vader and saving Princess Leia, whom I believe I pictured as Cheri the hottest girl in third grade , or I could be learning the beats of a poem in boring English class with balding Miss Olsen. The problem was, eventually I would look around and see that playing pretend had left a very empty feeling in the deepest part of me.
I was thinking about this when reading the last chapter of Malachi from the old testament. This chapter was the last words God spoke before going silent for 400 years, can you imagine that? Basically, the last thing He said was to follow His ways, and if you don't then there will be destruction (or in another translation, a curse). When He picks up conversation, 400 years later in the book of Matthew, He finds His people had kept going on in conversation, except God was not apart of it. So they were basically playing pretend, and missing out on a true relationship. John the baptizer calls them out and... well you can pick it up from there in Matthew chapter 3. Amazing how things haven't changed all that much, with a lot of people playing church, playing pretend, without even recognizing that God isn't even in the conversation. I know I've done it before, and my guess is you have as well, or maybe you've just experienced it around you. Possibly growing up, or maybe you're surrounded by it now. The gripping thing is, no matter how many people are fooled with playing the game of religion, God never is. He knows who is having a real conversation, an authentic relationship with Him, and who is just playing... well, pretend.
Quit playing games with my heart...