Pokemon Go 'Away'?
I have a friend who has caught them all.
Well not exactly all of them; some are being held back by the developers for certain events. But all the Pokémon that are physically possible to ‘catch’ in the world today, he’s got them. Finding out this information, I felt annoyed, slightly jealous, and also concerned - well, mainly just concerned about how annoyed and jealous I felt.
We’ve experienced a unique ‘phenomenon’ in our society. Following the release of this highly anticipated game, people were suddenly out wondering the streets, new communities were formed, poke-stops were founded, and gyms were guarded. There was an excitement in pretty much every city as people young, old, short, tall, geeky, not-geeky, introverted, extroverted…(quite a range of people) found themselves in the same place, pursing the same thing, together.
I don’t know what your experience of the game is currently. For some, you might be deeply hooked, still playing the game every day, and currently reading this outside your local ‘gym’ ready to defend your position. For others you might be playing it occasionally, but not as much as you were when it first came out. There might be another group of you, who downloaded it, but didn’t really engage with it, and have since deleted the app from your phone. And lastly, there will be some who just haven’t been bothered by it at all! (and probably hoped the title of this article ‘Pokémon go away’ is all about why it should be banned…)
I think this phenomenon fascinating, because as much as Pokémon Go has been something brand new in its game design, the audience response follows the pattern of so many things in life. Check out this pretty-straight-forward, but hopefully useful graph I made (the first in a bridge article, may I add).
So most trends and social situations have what could be called ‘tipping points’ - where something moves from a position of relative obscurity to significant prominence in people’s lives.
Now we could easily use the trend and ‘tipping point’ of Pokémon as a commentary on society, but I don’t want to talk about ‘society’ in general. I want to talk about you and me. How does this reflect our life as a Christian?
You see many of us have already had those ‘tipping point’ moments in our faith. We’ve encountered the incredible story of Jesus - one of barrier breaking love, and freedom flowing grace. Our relationship with God moved from a place of self-generated obscurity to a place of rightful significance in our own lives. We decided to explore it for ourselves and we found some answers. It ‘tipped’.
It’s often described as the point where we ‘give our lives to Jesus’.
For some this was a dramatic, surprising, and radically transformational moment. For others, the tipping point was gradual and steady, culminating after a number of years and a number of experiences.
If you look at the diagram, many all start at the same place once they’ve downloaded the app - they’re in, they’ve signed up, they’re out giving it a go. This is their ‘tipping point’. As a result, the game led so many people out to new places, new people, and new experiences.
And this is so true in our walk of faith; Jesus didn’t call us to a static, stagnant experience of life, but rather one of adventure (John 10:10), that takes us ‘outside of ourselves’ to our schools, our colleges - the communities around us. And so after giving our lives to Him, we catch the excitement, the buzz, the leading of that invitation in our own personal tipping points.
But our paths can start to change after that point. I’m going to use the graph to show you what I mean.
Yellow - For some, Pokémon was tried, it was enjoyed, but it was put down. It didn’t quite fit with schedules or plans, it didn’t do everything that someone wanted, it wasn’t ‘enjoyable’ enough - it got deleted.
And this can be so true for some of us too in our faith - we move to Uni, we meet that girl/boy, we start a job, and suddenly, that faith, that following, doesn’t quite cut it anymore. It’s not that it just isn’t used often, but it’s something we don’t want to be associated with anymore. It’s not just ignored, it’s deleted.
If the yellow is you, then don’t fret. Life can get like that. Stuff falls away and we end up missing the most important things. (Luke 15 v11-32). The awesome thing is, even though you’ve ‘deleted the app’ - it doesn’t mean the app doesn’t exist. It also doesn’t mean your account is gone forever. In this moment, God might be inviting you to rediscover the love and joy of your relationship - one of life and abundance paid by Christ’s sacrifice.
Green -For some, the Pokemon journey started strong but then they began to lose interest. It’s still there, as an app on the phone, but it just isn’t really used. It’s sometimes thought of, and it’s picked it up when others around are playing it - but other than that, it’s kind of just ‘one of many’ apps sat on the phone.
This can also happen with our Jesus-following too. It becomes a passive piece of our lives, one we turn to when others are around on Sundays, but apart from that - it sits the rest of the week untouched. It doesn’t go away like the yellow, it’s still there, but it’s just simply not a priority.
If the green is you, then don’t fret. So many Christians can find that faith becomes an afterthought in times or situations and begin to lose sight of the love that leads it (Revelation 2:4). God isn’t a teacher having a go at us, He’s a Father wanting to embrace us. He wants us to discover daily what it means to follow him, and he has so much still to show us. Maybe for you, this is a time to rediscover that life-giving love on a daily basis.
Blue -For some, the journey continues strong. My irritating friend is an example of that. The game hasn’t lost its appeal or its interest, there’s so much to explore, so much to do. This wasn’t just a silly sign-up, it was a complete commitment to ‘catch them all’.
In this similarity, we discover the aim for our faith. A total commitment, a complete pursuit of Him. An understanding of the depth of faith he has called us to, and the ways that is worked out in our lives.
If the Blue is you, then don’t fret. You’re on the path! It’s hard, there are slips and trips, but keep on moving forward (Hebrews 12 v1-2)!
So if your reading this and you’re not feeling like you’re on the blue line with your faith, and it’s not where you want it to be… how do we turn it around? Can we turn it around? What does it actually look to follow Jesus, even when the hype has died down? In Part II we’ll use my irritatingly successful friend as an example to find this out together.