What’s Your Story?February 7, 2018
The Connecting Point: We are natural storytellers and every moment we are writing the story of our lives. So, what’s your story?
Christians like to claim that “history is really His Story written in the lives of human beings,” but more and more history is recorded by those who don’t believe there is a God and therefore do not recognize nor record God’s presence or actions as a part of the storyline. The selfie culture has elevated the personal story through Instagram and if you don’t like the story of real life there’s virtual reality and gaming where your avatar can be whatever you imagine.
The Disconnect: #IamwhatImakeup is a Covergirl ad campaign which reflects the post-modern idea that a person is whatever and whomever they imagine themselves to be. That self-made character is then projected into the world. The story they are telling is “whatever you make up, whatever story you tell, whatever narrative you project, is who you are.” Nothing could be further from the Truth and therein lies the lie.
The truth continues to be that which aligns with actual reality. In reality, God is and God has spoken. In reality, God created all things and in Him all things hold together. In reality, the storyline of history is His Story and we are each and all created by Him and for His glory. So, I am not what I make up, I am who God made me to be; I am who God saved me to be; I am who God calls me to be; I am who God sends me to be. I am who I was when the Great I am conceived of me in His imagination before the foundations of the earth. I am who I was when God knit me together in my mother’s womb, fearfully and wonderfully made. I am who God remade me to be in Christ Jesus in whom I am a new creation. I am now an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven and I am on a mission. That’s my story, what’s yours?
The stories we tell and the story we’re living is literally making history which is one reason video gaming is so powerful. The ability to be someone you’re not, write your story, and live in a world of your own creation aptly describes video gaming. Video gaming is not only big business and a consuming threat to those who become addicted, it is also a ministry opportunity. So, with the rise of virtual reality, the designation of gaming addiction as an official mental health disorder, and statistics which reveal some people are literally being lost in video games, what do Christians need to know in order to engage games and gamers in ways that honor Jesus?
The Reconnect: God gives meaning to life. Jesus says that He literally came from heaven to earth in order that we might have life and have it to the full. He entered into history in order to change our eternal destiny AND the reality we’re living in right now. God can give people what they’re digging for in Minecraft – a creative, meaningful, life in community. What gaming can never yield, God freely gives.
The recent movie Jumanji is a good place to bring God back into the gaming conversation. In the movie, real people enter into a video game and have to figure out the storyline, how the game works, how to work together and how to “win” before they die (not just in the game, but in reality). Life is not a game but many of the gaming principles can be translated as applying to real life – an essential bridge for the Christian to build if hardcore gamers are going to leave VR for the real life God offers them.
So, how do those of us living in the reality of the world reach those who are lost in the virtual reality of video gaming? The theological word for it is incarnation, we have to enter in.
Connecting Faith Everyday (or how to keep the conversation going):
Have you ever heard of Jeremy Smith? He’s a Christian vlogger who is building relationships with gamers and seeding the virtual reality of Minecraft with the Gospel. His vlog is “Minecraft Theology” and it was recently written up in the USA Today and it’s a ministry model into a mission field you may not have considered.
A few years ago Jan McGonigal wrote the book Reality is Broken. In it she says, “Gamers want to know: where, in the real world, is that gamer sense of being fully alive, focused and engaged in every moment? Where is the gamer feeling of power, heroic purpose, and community? Where is the heart-expanding thrill of success and team victory? While gamers may experience these pleasures occasionally in their real lives, they experience them almost constantly when they’re playing their favorite games.” Christians have really good answers to those questions! So, if gamers are searching for meaning, belonging and purpose, why don’t we share with them how to have those qualities in real life?
If we don’t engage, if some of us who are well suited for the call to enter the Mine don’t go, then McGonigal’s dim forecast may in fact become reality. She says, “Unless something dramatic happens to reverse the resulting exodus, we’re fast on our way to becoming a society in which a substantial portion of our population devotes its greatest efforts to playing games, creates its best memories in gaming environments, and experiences its biggest successes in game worlds.” That’s not real life – that fake world half-life is exactly what the Enemy wants people to settle for!
Jesus came that we might have life, real life, and have it to the full. How can we help reconnect that eternal truth with temporal people lost in the storylines of virtual reality? Tethered securely to Jesus, knowing who we are and understanding the role we play in history, we enter into the virtual realities of our day and we invite people to join us on the greatest adventure that could ever be imagined. A real King, a real Kingdom, real riches, real fellowship, meaning, purpose, joy and home, forever and ever. And yes, the reality of a life beyond the one you lose.