Unless you have been asleep, unaware, or uninformed, a virtual reality game that’s played with your Smartphone called “Pokémon Go” is sweeping across America and now the world. I never understood the Pokémon playing cards my nephew played with years ago, so I am definitely out of the loop when it comes to understanding this craze. All I know is that a lot of people are obsessed with catching Pokémon. Like everything in life, there are plusses and minuses. This game is no exception. The plusses include the physical benefits of chasing after virtual creatures; the players are walking and running more, thereby, getting into better shape. Also, players are interacting with other players that they meet where Pokémon gather in order to trade, share stories, strategies, etc., and people are visiting places they normally wouldn’t visit, such as museums, landmarks, cemeteries, and churches. Yes, believe it or not, every church is a place where Pokémon can be found. The minuses are directly related to the biggest problem so far with the game: people are so engrossed in the game that they don’t pay attention to their surroundings. In fact, the game comes with a warning every time the app is opened to be aware of your surroundings. There is also a disclaimer agreement that states that the game company is not liable for any property damage, injuries, or deaths that result while playing the game. According to the Insurance Journal, there have been numerous instances where players were injured by walking into traffic, as well as distracted drivers causing accidents by playing while driving. There have been instances of cell phones being taken and people lured into robberies. Add to that numerous instances of trespassing, players being shot at by home owners who thought that they were intruders onto their property, and even a couple of players who fell down a steep cliff. Why, because the people were too busy focusing on playing a game rather than being aware of what was going on around them. As I mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of the game is that it is getting people to go to churches to catch Pokémon. One such church is St. Casmir Polish Roman Catholic Church in Toronto. The Pokémon Go meme for this spot is a life-sized statue of Jesus on the Cross located outside the church. The meme is called “Cross Guy” (see image). People are coming to this church and standing at the foot of “Cross Guy” to catch Pokémon. Many of the people don’t know who this “Cross Guy” is. They are just there to play a game. This reminded me of the day Jesus died on the cross. As Luke records the scene, at the very moment that Jesus cries out “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” soldiers are playing a game at the foot of the cross. They are engrossed in a game, unaware of what is taking place, and not paying attention to what this man on the cross was doing for them. To them, He was just another guy on a cross! Today, people are still playing games at the foot of the cross. People are so engrossed in their own lives, their own desires, and their own sinful nature, that they are unaware of what God has done for them. Jesus is just a guy on a cross to them, if they are even aware of Him at all. Even more sadly though, church members are playing church games at the foot of the cross as well. We can be so focused on our church games that we are unaware of the lost and dying all around us. It is my prayer, that we at RoS will be a church that stops playing the church game and engages our culture for Christ.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.