Should Christians Play Pokemon Go?

Finding the Balance between Distraction and Opportunity

The more I hear about the new Pokemon Go app, the more it makes me think. I’ve seen the game act as a distraction and also as a ministry tool. My question: do we have to worry about balance?

pokemon-go

For those living outside of the Millennial/Gen Z craze, Pokemon Go is a new game played on your smartphone.  In its simplest form, you have to walk around, with your device in hand, looking for Pokemon (cartoon creatures) to catch.

This might sound a little obscure and silly, but so do many games until you start playing.  In fact, games can become highly addictive. A little silly game can quickly consume large portions of our time and conversation.  Candy Crush is a great example.

I’d be the first to admit that I spend my fair share of time playing silly phone games. I’d also be the first to admit, that it doesn’t help me grow in my Christian journey.

I’ve started to re-ask myself a very basic question, “If Jesus were here today would He be trying to ‘catch ‘em all?’” It might be a complicated answer.  There are two questions we have to keep in mind: 1) is it a distraction; and, 2) is it an opportunity?

Pokemon Go as a Distraction

There are many things that can distract us from what is actually important in life.  Games, in general, definitely make that list.

Actually, “distraction” might be an understatement. Pokemon Go has caused car crashes, people to walk off cliffs, and otherwise completely disregard all forms of basic humanity.1

Games like #PokemonGo have the potential of distracting a whole generation from the #gospel. Click To TweetIn writing to Timothy, Paul warned him to avoid “youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace…” (2 Timothy 2:22). The phrase “youthful passions” is often debated, but it’s fair to view this in a general sense.  It’s a tendency to be lured into “immaturity” and the “new thing” and distracted from what’s important – “righteousness, faith, love and peace” (ie. the gospel.) 2 Games like Pokemon Go have the potential of distracting a whole generation from the gospel.

Paul also understood that we live in grace.  There are many things that we are free to do, “but not all things are helpful” (1 Cor 6:12, 10:23).  Paul was discussing specific issues when he wrote that, however, he was simply stating our freedom and responsibility in Christ.

We can participate, but is it helpful?

Pokemon Go as an Opportunity

Just like there are distractions, there are also opportunities.

Jesus made the most out of every opportunity while bringing people down the road of #SpiritualLife. Click To Tweet

Jesus connected with people in culture. In fact, he connected with them wherever he went. Jesus made the most out of every opportunity while bringing people down the road of spiritual life. Shouldn’t we aim to do the same?

Several local churches have made new connections with youth and young adults through the game.  Some have set up a charging station, put up a sign to welcome Pokemon trainers, and otherwise interacting with those running around their city or town.3

Check out this local church (their building happens to be a Pokestop):

Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).  That means, for the sake of the gospel, we sometimes need to engage with things in order to connect with people.  It’s not a call to avoid holiness, rather a call to relate. We are by no means threatening our relationship with God by engaging in Pokemon Go.  But, by participating, we may in fact connect with kids and teens for the Kingdom!

So What Do We Do?

Ultimately, we all need to distinguish between a distraction and opportunity for ourselves.  As I observe, however, these are my best suggestions:

  • Understand the game and learn why culture is so caught up with it;
  • Sign up for the game and try it out; and,
  • Interact with those around you; BUT,
  • Avoid becoming personally invested in the game; and,
  • Keep your attention towards relationship building and Kingdom growth.
#PokemonGo can help us engage w/ culture so we can lead others to what really matters – Jesus! Click To Tweet

I won’t say Pokemon Go (and other games) are “sinful” or “ungodly.” However, if God wants us to live our lives for His glory, the Devil is certainly excited to see Christians fully engaged in silly games.  If we’re not focusing on our spiritual journey, then we won’t be able to lead others to Christ.

If, however, we use games like Pokemon Go to help build the Kingdom, there are some great opportunities.  Pokemon Go can help us engage with culture so we can lead others to what really matters – Jesus!

On a physical level, there could even be some positive outcomes to playing such game (12 Surprising Health Benefits Of Playing Video Games).


Your turn…

Question: How will you engage Pokemon Go? …and other games? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

 

References   [ + ]

You Can’t Fight Hate with Hate; Respond With Love

3 Reasons Why Christians Must Respond With Love, Not Hate

The world is in bad shape.  It seems like every time I turn on the TV or read a news article online, I’m faced with another tragedy or senseless act. Even the local crime rate seems to have escalated.  As I read each story and witness the pain, I’m left to respond in some way.  It’s difficult, however, to find words or even manage emotions.  I’ll be honest, it’s easier when the tragedy or crime is at a distance, but the reality of the pain and the thoughts of a potential parallel situation, are difficult to absorb.

love-not-hate

Question: How do we process this? How do we respond? What if it becomes personal? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Jesus gave us a clear teaching: don’t fight hate with hate; respond with love.

Here are 3 reasons why:

Continue Reading »

The Elbow of Trudeau

It’s a joke, Canada has “Micky Mouse” politics.  While the country is discussing the serious matter of Bill C-14 and Medical Assistance in Dying and its implications, our government is determining the implications of the elbow of Justin Trudeau.

http://andrewholm.com/the-elbow-of-trudeau

I’m not going to lie, our Prime Minister doesn’t have the greatest reputation among conservative Christians.  That said, the House of Commons, and reaction as a whole, is a little off course.

If you haven’t seen this yet, here is some of The National’s coverage:

The Christian Forgiveness Model

I’m not about to hold Trudeau to Christian principles, but I will hold Christians to their response to his actions.

When we wrong someone (whether intentional or not), we are called to follow Matthew 18. Here are the basic points:

  • If someone wrongs you, go to the person and explain the issue;
  • If they don’t listen, bring someone with you;
  • If they still don’t listen, tell the Church; and,
  • If they still don’t listen, move on.
  • BUT, if the person asks for forgiveness, forgive them.

Some call this a “conflict-resolution model”, but I call it a “forgiveness model.”  Why? Because, as believers, we need to have a forgiving spirit.  When we go to someone who has wronged us, we need to already be ready to forgive them.  According to Jesus, there are no situations where we are not to forgive someone when they ask.

Mistakes happen…

Clearly, our Prime Minister took off his thinking hat, and quickly acted in the heat of the moment.  Did he use force?  Did he mean to use his elbow?  Did the NDPs try to get in the way?  Does it matter?

Trudeau realized he made a mistake and apologized.  In fact, he apologized several times – not only for his direct actions, but also for his failure “to live up to a higher standard of behaviour.”1

As believers, we need to accept that and move on.

Stop Making A Big Deal Of the Wrong Issues…

There are much bigger issues that we need to be praying and thinking about.  The issue of Medical Assistance in Dying is far more critical than the “swinging of ones elbows.”  This is a turning point in our history, and the right decision will greatly impact our moral obligations.

I have no doubt that this is the work of the enemy.  Up until a few days ago, much of the attention was towards Medical Assistance in Dying, and now we’re talking about “fear in the workplace” and comparing his actions to that of drinking and driving.  Where did that come from?

Stop Complaining And Start Praying…

No matter how you feel about Justin Trudeau, he is still our Prime Minister and our leader.  Pray for him, his Cabinet and their leadership.  Pray they make the best decisions and know that God has everything in control every step of the way (Romans 13:1).

Every time we focus on the wrong issues, we distract ourselves from what we should be praying about.

Let’s move on.

References   [ + ]

Don’t Worry, Christians Don’t Worry?

“Don’t worry, God won’t give you something you can’t handle,” said no Bible verse ever.  That’s right, that phrase isn’t found anywhere in scripture!  In fact, from my experience, the opposite is true – God regularly hands me situations that I can’t handle on my own.  Situations that I’m not ready for, too busy for, or otherwise just don’t want.  But God looks at me and says, “Get ready, I’m about to shape you! I’m about to give you something you can’t handle so you can learn to rely on me.”

worry

So if God is willing and able to carry us during times of stress, does that mean that Christians don’t worry?  Scripture can sound like that sometimes – almost a “holier than thou” picture.  The truth is: it’s not that Christians don’t worry, it’s that worry has no power over a faithful Christian.

I awoke with chest pain…

Last week chest pain got between me and my sleep.  It was significant enough to wake me up at 1:30am and for me to call a friend to ask to bring me to emerge.  The five hour ordeal left me with more questions than answers.  The good news, I didn’t have a heart attack.  The bad news, the doctor explained, the pain could be caused by nearly anything else (stress, lungs, pulled muscle, diet, gas, and the list went on).  I wish I could say I avoided the “educational” WebMD.com, but my questions required anxious answers.  A couple days later, my trip to the family doctor led to an x-ray and yet another anxious result three days later – negative.  My doctor has now narrowed it down to a muscular issue, or acid re-flux.  So the journey continues, and so does the natural human emotion of anxiety.  Unfortunately, the “unknowns” seem to always outweigh the positive news.  But let’s face it, we’re human and anxiety is a natural feeling.

To avoid anxiety seems impossible. Scripture, however, makes it seem obvious – “…do not be anxious about anything…”i Is that even possible?  The minute we all experience the unknown, our natural tendency is to think about the “what if…”  We may not call it worry, but asking “what if…” is simply worrying about tomorrow’s outcome.

So as Christians, how do we respond to worry and anxiety?

Both Matthew and Luke record Jesus talking about anxiety (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-34).  Here’s the message: you don’t have to worry about what you will eat, drink, wear, the condition of your body, or even how you will pay for tomorrow’s needs because: 1) worrying won’t change anything; and, 2) God provides for all his creation, so how much more will he provide for His children. So instead of worrying, seek the Kingdom of God, and all your needs will be provided.

The key to understanding this “peace of God” seems to be found in Matthew 6:33.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

I think we often misunderstand this verse. We are quick to ask God for help. But are we as quick to seek “the kingdom of God and his righteousness”? We are quick to ask God for help. But are we as quick to seek “the kingdom of God and his righteousness”? Click To TweetTruth be told, we probably pray for OUR WILL to be done long before we pray for GOD’S WILL to be done.  And yet Jesus told us to seek His Kingdom FIRST.

We probably read into the last part of this verse as well by interpreting “all these things” to mean whatever we are going through – be it our needs, wants, desires, or something else.  Jesus is telling us, to focus on His Kingdom and He’ll provide everything we NEED.

Paul put it this way when he wrote to Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”ii

The “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” is available to those who are abundantly Kingdom minded.  There is no promise that the feeling will NEVER happen.  The promise is that ANXIETY HAS NO POWER over the Christian who rejoices and puts their faith and work in Jesus and His Kingdom.

ANXIETY HAS NO POWER over the Christian who rejoices & puts their faith in Jesus & His Kingdom! Click To Tweet

Instead of anxiety ruling the situation, God takes these moments of being overwhelmed, and shapes us into who we need to be.  When we feel stressed, anxious, fearful, or otherwise overwhelmed, we have to remember that God wants us to grow through them and turn to Him for peace.

God has a purpose (even if we don’t see it) for every situation we find ourselves in.  James, at the beginning of his letter, said it this way:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”iii

So when I face worry or anxiety…

I need to keep quoting three scriptures:

1. Matthew 6:33– “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all [my needs] will be [provided].”

2. Philippians 4:6-7– “in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, [I can let my] requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [my] heart and [my] mind in Christ Jesus.”

3. James 1:2-4– “the testing of [my] faith produces steadfastness… [so that I] may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The feelings of anxiety will still come my way, but the power of anxiety is decreased when I increase my dependency on God and seek God’s Kingdom first.  Quoting scripture is a beautiful way to remind ourselves that this truth is indeed a reality.

If we seek the Kingdom FIRST, pray with THANKSGIVING, and remember each situation SHAPES us, anxiety has no power over a faithful Christian.

 

Your turn…

Have you ever experience anxiety? Have you experienced the peace of God? If not, put your faith in Jesus and the power of anxiety will lose steam!


[i] Philippians 4:6a (ESV).

[ii] Philippians 4:4-9.

[iii] James 1:2-4.