Written By Meliana Dewi, Indonesia
If you haven’t heard by now, Pokemon Go is the latest craze in town—it’s all over the Internet and media, and is dominating many of our conversations.
Basically, this mobile game involves the trainer (that’s what the player is called) going around his neighborhood or city to hunt for Pokemon (short for pocket monster) using his mobile device. When a monster pops up on his screen, he catches one by “tossing” a virtual ball at it.
Many amusing stories have arisen because of this viral game. Apparently, one player got his mother involved in hunting for Pokemon with him, while another rented a taxi just so that he could catch Pokemon more easily.
Seeing the hype surrounding the game, I was intrigued—so I decided to try it out.
The result? Well, not only did I grow to love the game, believe it or not, I also learned a few spiritual lessons from it:
LESSON 1: Be strategic. Know what you need and where to find it
After playing the game for some time, I realized that the way to catch ‘em all is not to wander about aimlessly. It’s all about being strategic. Know which Pokemon you need and where to find them. For example, water Pokemon can usually be found near the sea, lakes, or other water bodies. Soil Pokemon, on the other hand, can easily be found at parks, on the streets, or near grasslands.
Likewise, when it comes to our spiritual lives, we need to know exactly what we need and where to find the solution. If I’m spiritually drained, for example, I should go to places that will help me grow spiritually—places where I can read the Bible, talk to God, or even fellowship with people who have this same desire to grow. If I need spiritual rest, I should find quiet places to take a day of rest in God’s presence.
Placing myself in strategic places will enable me to receive what I need. What do you need and where can you find those things?
LESSON 2: Learn to give up something for something better
One aspect of the game allows trainers to trade their Pokemon with Professor Willow (the head trainer who teaches players about the game and specializes in Pokemon habitats and distribution) in exchange for candy or stardust. Candy causes Pokemon to evolve while stardust helps strengthen Pokemon. By training and improving the abilities and strength of your Pokemon, that’s how you earn your stripes as a Pokemon Master.
There’s a similar concept in our spiritual lives. Only when we give up things, will we be able to receive something better from God. That means sacrificing things of this world in exchange for God’s blessings and intimacy.
The greatest exchange for any Christian involves giving up our lives to God and inviting Him into our lives as Lord and Savior: we give up the authority over our lives to God to receive His grace, power, and guidance. It may be difficult for us to let go of our fleshly desires and things we have been living with and relying on, but His eternal blessings are of more worth than whatever we’re giving up. He does not shortchange us.
Lesson 3: Know that results take time and effort
To hatch Pokemon eggs, the trainer needs to “walk” for it. Literally. There are three walking distances: 2km, 5km, and 10km. The farther you walk, the better the “quality” of the hatchling.
It’s the same thing in our spiritual lives. The Bible tells us that we need to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). The Christian walk requires work. If we take shortcuts on this journey, we will limit what God can teach us and prevent ourselves from growing to our fullest potential. The only way to grow something precious is to work hard for it and invest in it. Growing closer to God and in Christ-like character requires faith, perseverance, hard work, and time.
As I continue to play Pokemon Go, I’m mindful that ultimately, this game is only a game. What decisions I take or mistakes I make in the game doesn’t matter in real life. How I choose to live my life, on the other hand, matters for eternity.
And while I’m not making a call about whether we should or should not play this game, I believe that it’s always a good thing if our hobbies and interests can teach us life lessons at the end of the day.
Happy playing and happy growing!