Pokemon Go has taken over. It’s all over the news and within a span of weeks has been the source of so much discussion (both good and bad). Because of Pokemon go people have found a corpse, have been robbed, and even been in car accidents.
What intrigues me as a Christian when looking at this game is how it reveals the the human capacity and need to worship. Yes, many are not playing Pokemon Go, but are worshiping Pokemon Go[d]. While I do think the Gospel allows for the Christian liberty to enjoy games and entertainment there is something fundamentally different about the extremity to which Pokemon Go has swept society. Here are several observations about Pokemon Go that indicate peoples love and worship for the game:
- People steward their resources to play the game. Players are willing to spend their phone bills (and articles have even been written about how to save data in order to play more!) or even gas money to play. They will even sacrifice their time as many sacrifice sleep and other commitments to play.
- People congregate to play the game. While many see this as a positive since it is forcing people to socialize instead of staying inside and streaming media, it is also a powerful testimony to share in what we worship. The one item uniting all these people is the game! Their shared partnership in the game causes them to work together in a committed fashion.
- People proselytize others. The sheer popularity of the game has been infectious. People are writing beginner guides on how to introduce new players to the ins and outs of the game. It’s amazing how people who were never interested in Pokemon have even jumped on to the bandwagon.
- People are passionate about the game. The joy and excitement among players cannot be denied. These people are happy when they play the game. There is no doubt that their happiness is driving them to spend resources, congregate, and proselytize others.
These lives are a testament to the human capacity to worship. The Scriptures say that only the inexhaustible God of Scripture can fill the void and satisfy the human need to worship (just read Isa 40-48). Redeemed believers ought to have an even greater passion for their Savior. After all, believers fully understand the reality of their sin and certain judgment upon standing before a holy God. After all, believers understand that the only means of redemption is through Jesus Christ. This Jesus, who Scripture testifies about as being the God-man and as the God-man has lived the perfect life and died a substitutionary death for those who would fully trust in Him. After all, believers know the immense joy of Christ’s sacrificial death and the breath of new life that they receive from the Holy Spirit.
It is believers who know and understand that their primary passion and zeal in life is not directed toward an object like a video game, but towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers steward their time and resources for the Gospel’s sake. Believers should congregate to worship Christ. Believers should proselytize the lost sinner to cast their faith solely upon Christ. Believers should be passionate about Christ.
The day will come when the glory of the Pokemon Go will fade. It will be obsolete. It will be outdated. It will be forgotten. When that day comes many they will focus their attention on some other distraction. Perhaps another game, perhaps a relationship or maybe material possessions.
Listen and be convicted by the words of J.C. Ryle:
“You have zeal, but it is misapplied. It is all earthly: it is all about the things of time. It is not zeal for the glory of God: it is not zeal for salvation of souls. Yes: many a man has zeal for the newspaper, but not for the Bible,—zeal for the daily reading of the Times, but no zeal for the daily reading of God’s blessed Word. Many a man has zeal for the account book and the business book, but no zeal about the book of life and the last great account,—zeal about Australian and Californian gold, but no zeal about the unsearchable riches of Christ. Many a man has zeal about his earthly concerns,—his family, his pleasures, his daily pursuits; but no zeal about God, and heaven, and eternity” (Ryle, pp. 192-93).
For the believer, “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).