The recent Pokemon craze has swept Phoenix, and probably most of the world that has access to smart phones. One recent Sunday morning, the normally empty park behind the community center where the church meets was full of gamers braving the summer heat, looking down at their phones, attempting to find treasures in a game that combines virtual reality, fantasy and community.
My barber related a story how a customer jumped out of his chair, while his hair was being cut and sprinted outside the barber shop to collect a “rare” find that was outside the front door. The enthusiasm for this game is unmatched in recent technological history. The stock for Nintendo had risen 17 billion dollars until investors realized the company owned only 32% share in the Pokeman product.
While I personally do not have any real desire to become a game participant, the game has certainly grabbed the attention of players of all ages. Young children to mature adults in their forties and fifties can be seen very engaged in the game. What is it about the game has enraptured so many people so quickly. The game provides identity, community, and a momentary escape. The participants can assume the identity of a character and that character can perform activities seemingly connected to the real world of the gamer. The game utilizes the camera of the phone and integrates the camera with the characters of the game. Quickly an ordinary trip to the grocery story can be transformed into a treasure hunt where virtual prizes are found. Gamers can meet other gamers and connect, forming community with former strangers.
Interestingly many of the aspects that make Pokeman Go desirable and captivating to the public are deeper realities already enjoyed in reality by followers of Jesus Christ. In Christ, we see a deeper purpose to every day life, the hidden reality of the majestic glory of God. We understand there is something more there than what we see with our eyes and touch with our hands. The battle we are engaged in is spiritual, our enemy very real but unseen (Ephesians 6:11-12). However, our triune God wields ultimate power and authority. Through the death and resurrection Jesus demonstrated the power of God over all earthly and spiritual opposition, (Colossians 2:15). He empowers believers to face the enemy with hope and confidence (Ephesians 1:19).
In Christ, we share community with His people. No longer are we strangers in this world, but we enjoy camaraderie and real love rarely known and experienced (Ephesians 2:5,12-17). No masks to hide are needed, no alternate identities need to be adopted, for Jesus has changed our identity, adopted us and calls us His friends. Believers are one in Christ, and are regarded and beloved as children of God.
So the next time you witness a crowd of people seemingly lost in a game, consider what the game represents and the reality of all that God has done in your life and the life of every believer, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then let us enthusiastically share that reality with others around us.