Like most people in our blessed community at Geeks Under Grace, I grew up as a geek. Looking back, I could say it’s because of my older brother. Back in 1993, my brother was 5-years-old and I was 3, and this was the first time I was introduced to anything geek-related: the original Sonic the Hedgehog for Sega Genesis. I was immediately mesmerized by the beauty and complexity of the game.
As I grew up, I played more Sega Genesis games, then the Nintendo 64 came out, the GameBoy Pocket (I never had the original GameBoy), the GameCube, and original Xbox. I played some games on the PC here and there such as DOOM and Bungie’s Marathon. Then I started getting into manga and certain anime like Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z, I collected Pokémon cards and Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and many other geeky pursuits.
In the 90s, geekdom was still a fairly new thing, so as geekdom was becoming a part of how I identified myself, I got bullied because of it and for other reasons unrelated to it, such as racism (even in the 90s, it was hard for some to accept biracial people). Besides that, my parents didn’t like how involved my brother and I were getting into video games, anime, and manga. They’re not terrible parents; they’re wonderful parents. It just took them a long time to learn that geekdom was a legit culture and accept that we identified with it. In fact, they both love what I do here at Geeks Under Grace, in bringing Christ to fellow geeks.
Anyway, this is my way of saying that growing up as a geek is not easy. Perhaps some of you know what I’m talking about. It wasn’t easy growing up as a geek and even now, as an adult, it’s hard being a geek because people who aren’t geeks have a hard time understanding us. They don’t understand why we love our geeky things, they don’t understand our references, and they especially don’t understand how it makes us so happy.
In explaining it to people, I usually draw similarities between geekdom and sports. Sports enthusiasts dress up as their favorite athletes; some of them even put body paint on themselves of their favorite team’s colors. They spend many hours watching sports throughout the week, they can’t stop talking about sports, and they spend endless amounts of money on sports merchandise. Likewise, geeks dress up as their favorite anime or video game characters, spend many hours throughout the week playing their favorite video games and/or watching anime and/or reading manga/comics (or whatever it is they’re geeky about), can’t stop talking about our favorite geeky things, and spend endless amounts of money on geek merchandise. Sports enthusiasts are geeks, too! Sports are just more popular than geekdom and so people are more likely to understand it. Sports are a huge part of culture. Geekdom, not so much. So as geeks, we are bound to be misunderstood.
As geeks, we grew up being bullied (at least some of us), and sometimes even the media bullies us. Because of this, I grew up thinking that God hated who I was and wanted me to be someone else. I thought that in order to be a Christian, I had to give up everything that became who I was (not just geek-related stuff). Of course, none of that is true. But sometimes our thoughts of God reflect our thoughts of people. Because people couldn’t accept who I was as a geek, I thought God couldn’t as well. This wasn’t a justified thought; I came to this thought in my sin, but people certainly didn’t help either.
Sometimes we think that if people are a certain way, then God must be as well, and we do this because of sin. “If these people hate me, then God must hate me too.” Or, conversely, “These people really love me, so God must love me too” (this was my thought when I experienced the love of Christians for the first time, which led to my conversion, because God was loving me through His people). Or even, “Since there’s so much murder and poverty in the world, God is hateful and doesn’t care about people.” In our sin, we bring God down to our level. We either think He’s like us or we want Him to be like us, rather than recognizing that we ought to be like Him and that He is nothing like us (thank God!). These thoughts are sinful thoughts, but sometimes they’re a result of how a majority of Christians act. If a group of Christians are hateful and judgmental (e.g. the Westboro Baptist Church), is it surprising that people think God is hateful and damning? And when Christians are loving and compassionate, is it surprising that people discover that God is truly loving and compassionate?
In Jesus’ prayer for all believers of all time, He said, “I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15-17). God has sent us into the world for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), but we are not to be of the world—that is, we are not to be defined by the world. Rather, we are defined by Christ, and in this definition of Christ as He sanctifies us and keeps us in the truth of His Word, He sends us out into the world to advance His kingdom. This can be best understood in the parable of the ten minas:
As they heard these things, He proceeded to tell a parable, because He was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’
When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’
And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’
Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and I reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'” (Luke 19:11-27)
The nobleman is representing Jesus, and the servants are representing His followers. Just as the nobleman sent his servants into the world to do his business in order to advance his kingdom, so Jesus sends us out into the world to advance His kingdom. When the servants came to the nobleman, notice that he didn’t ask how they did business; they simply returned with results. Likewise, when Jesus sends us out into the world, He doesn’t care how we advance His kingdom so long as it’s done in His love, grace, and mercy. Beyond that, He doesn’t care about the method. God has given us multiple resources to do this. Whether we advance His kingdom through sports, music, poetry, writing books, or certain things belonging to geekdom, He doesn’t care what we use so long as we return with results.
Don’t be like the third servant who was afraid of taking risks and so in his timidity did nothing. This third servant also shows us that God will be to us what we expect Him to be. This is actually a continued theme from the Pharisee and tax collector in the respective parable (Luke 18:9-14). The self-righteous Pharisee expected God to be harsh against the tax collector, and so God was harsh against the Pharisee. The tax collector expected God to be gracious, and so God was gracious to him. So this parable also shows that we are judged by the God we expect—either gracious or harsh (Luke 19:22). The end of the parable is more eschatological (in fact, the entire parable is). We are sent into a world that wants nothing to do with Christ (19:14, 27); but even though the world rejects Him, we are still able to use our resources to turn a few to Christ, and the two faithful servants show that. Those who have used the resources given to them to advance His kingdom will be given more at the end (what that entails, we don’t know). And those who still reject Him at the end will be destroyed, which is strongly depicted in Revelation.
Using this parable is a long way of me saying that nothing in this world is inherently evil (unless, of course, it was specifically designed to be against God’s will). St. Paul said, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the Word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Now, we need to be careful when using this verse. In the context, Paul was speaking against a certain people who were commanding others to abstain from marriage and certain foods (e.g. forced celibacy and demanding a vegetarian diet; these things, if done, are gifts granted by God, but they are not to be commanded). By understanding this context, then, we can healthfully apply it to other areas of life. So this does not mean we can apply it to literally everything, such as using cocaine, other illegal drugs that harm your body, orgies, whatever (after all, these things and many others are perversions of God’s will, not what God created).
We can apply it to things like geekdom, however. As Paul says, “it [the thing being received with thanksgiving] is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” This, then, makes what Geeks Under Grace does a holy cause for God’s will. Our very mission statement says we aim to, “Educate Christians on how to safely consume pop culture from our worldview, evangelize geeks with the message of the Gospel by building bridges between Jesus and the geek community, equip Christians and churches to reach geeks with the Gospel, and encourage Christians as they grow into a deeper relationship with Christ.” And as we work hard to serve the GUG community in this way, a lot of prayer is involved. And it is evident that what we do for you guys is received with thanksgiving.
Therefore, God loves geeks. He loves that we use geekdom to honor and glorify Him. We often think that geekdom is a new thing, but it’s not! King David was a geek! I relate a lot to David as a soldier, musician, and poet. Yes, David was king, but he was also very geeky. He wrote music and he wrote poetry! Those are pretty geeky things, even today. Classical musicians and poets aren’t exactly honored by society much these days, and as a classical musician and poet growing up, I got bullied for those things too. As a classical musician, “band geek” was used as a derogatory term as well as “band fag,” and because I write poetry people would question my heterosexuality. (Apparently men have to be gay to write poetry?) But God loved David even in his geekiness.
David served King Saul by playing the lyre for him whenever he was ill, and it raised his spirits (1 Samuel 16:23). This is basically what I did in the Army bands; we played music to uplift the morale of our fellow soldiers. And, as we know, David wrote a bunch of poetry and hymns known as the Psalms. Back then I highly doubt that David’s sexuality was questioned because he was a poet, but having the skill to write (even during New Testament times) was a very serious thing. Only educated people knew how to write; it was not nearly as common as it is today. In all his geeky activities, David used his geeky talents to honor and praise God.
And so, as you use your geeky talents and interests to praise and honor God, He loves you too. It’s not your praise and honor that causes Him to love you; it is because He loves you that He gave you those talents and interests. And so we respond by giving Him all the glory in all that we do, fulfilling Paul’s exhortation, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).
Garrick Sinclair "Ricky" Beckett first started his Christian writing on a blog titled "The Lutheran Column" where he hires proficient Lutheran writers to convey biblical truth. Along with the blog, he also writes poetry, string quartets in music composition, enjoys doing photography, reading, and playing video games. Ricky is a graduate from Concordia University-Ann Arbor from the Pre-Seminary program with a major in Christian Thought and a minor in Theological Languages. Currently, Ricky is a seminarian at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis as he works on his Masters of Divinity to become a pastor in the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod).
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