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Pokémon Go and the Christian Life

I'd heard about it. I'd read about it. I'd seen it on the news. And then I saw it in action.

Kids on my street were playing Pokémon Go, a new video game that allows players to "travel between the real world and the virtual world" finding and catching "more than a hundred species of Pokémon as you explore your surroundings."

Now, I've been out of the video game world for at least 20 years, but as I understand it, with any smartphone Pokémon Go players see what's in front of them (sidewalks, trees, cars, etc.) as well as animated Pokémon Go species. The object of the game, then, is to catch these Pokémon. The game is referred to as "augmented reality." This past week I've heard parents rave about its greatness, because it's gotten their children out of the home for hours on end!

I think Pokémon Go serves as a powerful metaphor for the Christian life. Throughout the Gospels Jesus questioned his earliest followers, "Do you have eyes to see? And ears to hear?" In other words, have you allowed the lens of faith to influence how you see the world? It also recalls Paul's instruction to the Ephesians: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

The July 6th release of Pokémon Go may serve an even deeper metaphor, too. You may have heard or read or seen on the news the dangers that playing the game has introduced. While distractedly looking down at their screens, numerous people have been injured while playing the game. Two men fell off a cliff in San Diego, a 15 year old girl was struck by a car in Western Pennsylvania, and a man's car was stolen as he distractedly left it to "catch Pokémon."

Perhaps these accidents speak to the challenge of keeping our eyes open to the things of God, while also remaining a thoughtful, engaged follower of Jesus in the world. As the saying goes, "Be in the world, but not of it."

Pastor Curtis

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