As a proud member of Generation Y, I am an avid video game player. True, with work, school, Kingdom work, and a family, I’ve got such precious little time for it these days, but you can bet if I can find a free moment, its going to be spent in a virtual world hacking some dragon to pieces.
Recently, however, I’ve been doing some self-analysis. Why do I play video games? There are many healthy reasons, but I am convinced the main reason I play them any chance I get is quite unhealthy.
The reason I play video games so much is because I believe my life is insignificant and will always be that way.
I chose to live vicariously through the fictional lives of men I believe are far more interesting and whose lives (though fake) are far more significant. In a video game, I can be someone important and do something important. In the real world, I do not believe I can do anything of the sort. Real life to me is a boring, routine existence.
Now for many of you, it might not be video games. It might be sports (either watching or playing), or hunting, or fishing, or some other activity which in and of itself has little long-term significance. For example, many people watch sports because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves, something that has honor and significance, and their real life does not have that.
I’ve targeted this mainly at men, but women have their own versions of escape. Romance novels and Soap Operas are but two that spring to mind, and of course there are the rare female gamers as well.
This is not to say that playing games, watching sports, or outdoor activities are bad in and of themselves (though some content might). Every one of these can have meaningful applications (yes, even video games), and can be useful to us. The problem arises when these things take precedence or gain too lofty a place in our lives. Some may become idols, or false religions, all by themselves.
If not interrupted by the power of Christ, life will indeed seem hollow and meaningless….because it is. Without Christ, life has no meaning. You are born, live a life filled with troubles, then you die. Life is just a routine of rituals designed to keep you and others alive.
But with Christ, life is eternal, and there are things to do and experience which have eternal consequences. The Greek philosophers said that nothing is worth having unless you can have it forever, and they were right. In Christ, you can have some things, the good things, with you for all eternity. Christ said He came to give us life and life to the fullest, filled with meaning and significance. Christ offers a life of adventure, full of danger and victory, if we will but follow His example and His plan.
So why do I and many other Christians believe our life is dull and in need of pick-me-ups from fictional sources? Because we have not embraced the full-life that Christ has given us. We have not stepped out in faith into the mission Christ has handed us. Make no mistake, each person in Christ has a sacred mission only he or she can fulfill. As Galadriel told Frodo in Lord of the Rings “This task was appointed to you, and if you do not find a way no one will.”
Now make no mistake, God’s plans do not fail on the will of men. God will accomplish His task, but if you do not take up the mission Christ gave you, then you will not experience a full and meaningful life and much good that could have been done will be lost as well as the glory God could have received. Our little missions are part of the great Mission of God to save Mankind person by person, and if we do not do our part the Mission will be hindered and souls could be lost.
What could be more significant? What pursuit could be greater in life? Even the hero in the game could not save lives forever, but only for the day. With the power Christ has given us, we can lead people to His name, which has the power to save fully and forever.
Am I going to stop playing all video games forever? No. But each time I’m tempted to take up a controller, I am going to think long and hard about why I am doing so. Is it to escape reality, to receive significance and gratification from something other than my Savior? If so, I had best leave it alone, and ask God what assignment He has for me instead.
I encourage you to do the same with whatever distraction you have set up in your own life.