When I’m tired I find that I like to try to escape life’s problems. That’s not very husbandly, or manly, or positive in any way, but it’s true. In my life this is where video games can be a negative. Sometimes it’s just easier to unplug from real life and go on an adventure where none of life’s worries follow me.
Video games can be an escape. They can be a way I medicate from life’s problems.
I’m just three months into life with two boys in house: Our little two year old Owen was just joined by our new little bundle, Henry!
These last few weeks have reminded me of the importance of keeping Jesus as the center of my heart. I find that, as CS Lewis said:
When I’m tired I don’t suddenly act badly, I simply don’t have the energy to pretend to act as good as I’d like.
When I’m tired the real me shows up and God uses that weakness to remind me of how great he is. The real me often doesn’t want to deal with the hard parts of life; I want to feel good. One thing God has shown me about turning to gaming for happiness is this:
When I turn to gaming for my happiness:
at best, I’m using gaming as a drug
at worst, I’m using gaming as a god
Medication is anything we use to make the pain go away. The end result is usually feeling numb. People medicate with all kinds of life choices. Alcohol, drugs, relationships, porn; whatever makes the pain go away.
Anything we turn to in order to make us feel like we have a purpose becomes a god in our life. In fact, the true God addresses this and calls them idols. To paraphrase Tim Keller from his book Counterfeit Gods, an idol is anything set on the throne of our hearts that is intended for God. Looking to idols for satisfaction is where addiction comes in.
Without help from outside ourselves, gaming addiction becomes a cycle of addiction and self-medication.
We game because it takes us away from our problems. While we’re gaming we ignore important issues, so more problems arise. When we are forced to not game (due to our jobs, school, sleep needs, etc), we are in reality long enough to remember why we hate it and long even more to escape to our virtual world.
Gamers generally don’t have illusions about why we game. We also don’t have very many solutions. Keep gaming, hope something makes us feel happy. In this gamers are really more advanced than other parts of society. We understand that we game because it’s more fun than real life.
- Workaholics believe they’re being productive
- Alcoholics believe they’re being social
- Porn addicts are just expressing their sexuality in a harmless way
God loves gamers deeply. He doesn’t even need them to quit gaming. Jesus tells us “I am the way and the truth and the life“. God wants us to see the newness of life that is available in Jesus. This isn’t about religion, it’s about relationship. The God who made us wants relationship with us and has already done everything to restore it. In Jesus it means having hope in this life that extends beyond the next level, the next epic win.
The promise is for all of us: Quit seeking satisfaction on our own and seek it in the only one who has the power to provide. God promises:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
God calls us in Christ to a life that is more alive than any amount of gaming could make us feel. He promises us not simply numbness from our problems or distractions from life’s obstacles, but a heart that can actually love.
God doesn’t tell us to TRY to love. He doesn’t say “feel better”. He doesn’t say that we should just medicate because there isn’t any hope, or make up a new god because we’re too far gone to love.
God promises that in Christ he’s already done what is necessary to make us WANT to love.
In Christ God has ALREADY PAID THE PRICE, before we asked him to. He asks us to come to him in our brokenness SO THAT we can be made whole.
He’s a God who changes hearts, and that changes everything.
Photo Credit: Pablo GarciaSaldaña