Recently, Pokemon Go (a mobile game app described as a “free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game”) was launched. This has viralled into a global craze of over 20 million daily users, with the app designers reporting earnings of over USD$200 million in revenue, with an average of USD$10 million a day. In Singapore, you might have noticed in the past 2 weeks, crowds of children, youths, and even adults staring at their mobile devices playing this game whilst walking, commuting, and even driving (dangerously). 2 young men were arrested for fighting allegedly due to the game, and the police were called in when residents complained of hordes of cars and crowds congregating in a public housing estate carpark in the middle of the night, causing much disturbance and noise, with the only aim of “catching” virtual monsters.
Worldwide crazes and phenomenons have come and gone. Years back, it was the Hello Kitty collectibles from McDonald’s. I’m sure many of our young people in church have no doubtedly downloaded and are currently playing Pokemon Go. In and of itself, it’s just like any other computer or mobile game that is out there in the market. Parents and young people will need to exercise wisdom and discernment on whether or not it is advisable to play. I think the challenge is moderation, and when one crosses the line towards addiction and excessive playing. Also, we need to be mindful of how our behaviour changes when we are playing. Do we become reckless, foregoing safety, such as playing whilst crossing the road, or worse, when driving and suddenly pulling to the side and stopping abruptly just for the sake of the game? Or do we even become aggressive, anxious, depressed, and experience withdrawal symptoms when not playing or not being to get ahead of our friends or others in the game?
Romans 12 begins with the warning, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world.” Instead, Paul exhorts us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Many might laugh off this Pokemon Go craze as something trivial, but what are the other challenges, pressures and temptations for us to follow, to “conform” to worldly trends, patterns, thinking and behaviour? Are we only Sunday Christians, but the rest of the week, when we are out there in the world, no one can tell the difference between us and non-believers? Do we ever struggle with standing up to our biblical convictions, and risk being in conflict with our colleagues, our bosses, our companies, our schools, our friends, or maybe sometimes even our family members?
As we celebrate Young Adults Sunday today, my prayer is that God will continue to raise up faithful generations of young people who are rooted in God’s Word, filled and led by the Holy Spirit to be living sacrifices, godly examples and influencers in all spheres of society. May we truly be a community of spiritual support that loves sincerely and serves selflessly as we grow towards Christlike maturity, building each other up towards service and leadership, for the glory of God.