O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.Psalm 104:24-26, ESV
Creation as Play
In chapter 3 of Theology of Play, Jürgen Moltmann compares God’s act of creation to play. Like play, creation is unnecessary, because God does not need anything. God’s creation is a theater in which He displays and enjoys His glory. He shows off His abilities by making a variety of creatures with unique appearances and abilities. The ocean especially is full of bizarre creatures, and every one glorifies God in its own way.
The Play of Creatures
God’s creation glorifies Him by playing. When animals play, they show off the abilities that God gave them. A deer leaps, a bird swoops and sings, two dogs wrestle, a humpback whale does a cannonball, a gorilla steals something from a silverback and runs. A boy balances on a ledge, a girl takes care of a doll, a woman moves her hips to music, a man throws a 40-yard pass. In all of these actions, we see the goodness of God’s creation.
Play as Creation
As God’s image-bearers, humans imitate God’s act of creation in their play. Whether we are imagining, doodling, role-playing, or playing a game, play creates a little world with its own facts and rules. This can be seen in the games the children are playing in Matthew 11:16–17. They may pretend to be dancing at a wedding, or mourning at a funeral. A good playmate would enter the imaginary world and feel emotions appropriate to the story. Jesus condemns his generation for being like the spoilsports who won’t play any of these games.