Darkness, evil thoughts, and evil deeds surround us in our culture today. The media portrays negative acts nearly ceaselessly. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are increasing at rapid rates. My friends, it is not illogical to say that our daily lives are inundated with negative imagery. This negative imagery exerts a cost on some people. When your worldview only sees the worst humanity has to offer, it is easy for one to become cynical, jaded, and burnt out. For example, the paramedic who routinely sees negligence, hostility, abuse, and illness may start to believe that is all the world has to offer. No man or woman should exist in this kind of place. As gamers, we may use video games to escape such jaded feelings with the real world.
What do we do, then, if our video games also exclusively contain such negative imagery? How do we escape our negative worldviews if we just revisit the same issues in our downtime? Video games offer a great temporary escape that may reenergize a person and prepare them for the day ahead. That boost in our emotional states can’t occur if we choose to immerse ourselves in the same negative aspects. Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi about this very thing.
The book Phillipians in the New Testament is a letter from Paul expressing positive feelings and reactions towards the Church in Philippi. Paul uses this letter to press the Philippian Church to keep pushing forward in the faith and to continue to pursue the character of Jesus. Chapter 4 briefly highlights how Christians should act in the face of stress and anxiety, finishing with a verse on what we should set our eyes on.
“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.” Philippians 4:8-9
Why should we focus on the good? Throughout the book of Philippians, Paul encourages the Philippians to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Paul states multiple times that by keeping our focus on God, we give ourselves a sense of peace and knowledge that we can do anything God wants us to. Our focus on God helps us to push through all of the darkness we see in the world today with the undying light of God’s glory.
The Games We Play
I want you, dear reader, to think about the video games that you play. What kind of imagery do they contain? Do you exclusively play games that glorify evil deeds, or do you also play games that glorify heroics and honorable deeds? I know there aren’t too many games that purely glorify evil. There are plenty, however, that allow the player to do evil deeds, should they want to do so. Do you steep yourself in the same negative things that you encounter in the real world?
My friends, I implore you to not do this. I’m not here to say you can’t play games like Grand Theft Auto, but we are called to set our sights on good things, and gaming has tons of opportunities to focus on good things. There are games such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Kingdom Hearts that let you do heroic things and help comfort friends who are emotionally down. Other games, such as Minecraft, allow one to create and build great and beautiful structures. Finally, you can utilize your gaming time to even learn skills, such as computer coding or playing guitar.
Our focus on what is good is not merely limited to our single-player escapades; our interactions in multiplayer games must also show focus on the good. When we play against other folks, we may be tempted to lower ourselves to a toxic level. We may find ourselves making fun of our teammates and opposition, or saying crude and mean things to others. There is no honor in this! Instead, build up your teammates with your words and exhibit good sportsmanship towards your opponents. This fix will help us stand above the toxicity of some multiplayer games. Our actions may also help others enjoy the game as well! As Christians, we should stand apart, even in our online communities.
Time to step away from the games for a little bit. Gaming, while fun, shouldn’t constitute the majority of our time on this planet. Focusing on the good, interacting with positivity, and doing honorable things must extend from our video game choices to our real-life choices. After all, my brothers and sisters, life can be seen as the most complex massively multiplayer role-playing game in existence. We interact with others regularly, build skills, and fight our battles. How should we go about focusing on the good in our daily lives?
First, read the Bible. Find some sort of reading plan or study plan that suits your needs. God’s word is immensely comforting and regular time in His word helps shape a positive outlook. Next, apply what you have learned by reading the Bible. Paul tells the Philippians at the end of chapter four verse nine “— practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Finally, my friends, we pray. Pray to our God. He is always listening. I can’t guarantee He will answer your prayers with what you want, but His answers are always the best. Even if we just take our concerns and anxieties to God, that alone can help the negative lens we have to dissolve away.
My brothers and sisters, we can take what we learn from Christ Jesus our Lord and apply them to our everyday lives. We can use our gaming time wisely to build us up, and not tear us down. We can overcome the darkness of this world with the light of God. I continue to pray for you as we keep marching forward in time, and may Jesus be with you all.