The latest craze sweeping the nation is the smart-phone game, Pokemon Go. You have likely seen the groups of people wandering around Bridge Street and Big Spring Park, with their phones stretched out in front of them, completely oblivious to the rest of the world. Or perhaps you have heard the stories of people involved in car accidents or falling off of cliffs because they have been so encapsulated by it. If the game itself is a new concept to you, the basic premise is that it is an augmented reality game, using your phone’s GPS location to display a virtual world of little creatures, called Pokemon. The object of the game is to collect all 150 Pokemon by capturing them when they appear nearby. Some of the Pokemon are incredibly common, while others are exceedingly rare. But the point of the game is that you can’t play it just sitting at home. You have to be moving in order to find and catch new Pokemon.
You are probably wondering by now how I know so much about this game. Well, I have a confession to make. Inspired by one of our former youth group students, I have been playing the game myself. What started out as a curious fascination has now become an embarrassingly steady habit. Have a few minutes to kill? Walk over to Big Spring Park. Out to dinner with family? Pull out my phone and see what cool Pokemon may be around. In a matter of week I have gone from skeptic and scoffer to becoming one of “those people”.
One of the more fascinating things about Pokemon is that it is based in the real world, but it is obviously not a part of the physical realm, hence the term augmented reality. To the average citizen walking through the streets, everything appears as it always does. For the game player, there is suddenly a new reality that exists everywhere. The park is no longer a place to go to feed the ducks and fish, but it is a place where rare and exotic Pokemon show up.
It’s almost foolish to make the comparison, but, in this sense, Pokemon reminds me a lot of our faith. To those who are not believers, the world is just as it appears. It exists in the material realm, but nothing more. To the believer however, there is so much more going on than what we can see with our eyes. The second half of 2 Corinthians 4:12 reads, “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” What a great way to think about life and faith. The things that we can see, the material world, is nothing more than a temporary home. Earlier in the chapter Paul writes “we hold this treasure in jars of clay.” The treasure Paul was referring to was our faith in Christ, and jars of clay were the equivalent of plastic sandwich bags in the first century. They were good for little more than temporary storage. While they could keep things secured, the jars themselves were fragile and easily broken. The idea here is that our lives are those jars. We were not built to last forever in this world. For those who believe in God, this world is not our home, there is more to come. It is the things that we cannot see, the unseen things, that are eternal. We long for an eternal home and dwelling place that will make all that we have ever seen in this world pale in comparison.
To the unbeliever, a Christian is a lot like a Pokemon player. Wandering around, talking about an invisible God, a Savior who can not now be physically seen. Outsiders may struggle to understand, perhaps even mocking or scoffing for living our lives based upon the silly stories of a book of fairy tales, but for those who believe, for those who’s eyes have been opened to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no higher truth. C.S. Lewis eloquently wrote of ‘those people’ in Mere Christianity, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” Let us live our lives then not in the augmented reality of the physical world, but in the true reality of the world as it truly is: created by a loving Father, broken by sin, redeemed by the Begotten Son, and longing for the day of full restoration.