Question #1: Dear Bob, I'm still deep into your studies; constantly being enlightened and loving it. This thought seems to me to be a tad out in left field, but I wanted to share it with you anyway. So many young people today are addicted to video games. I have a young acquaintance who literally stays up all night on his computer competing on interactive games and does so to an extreme that is literally hindering his progress in life. A good many of the combatants in these games are reptilian in design. With the rapture and tribulation likely to be an event for this generation of youth, could it be Satan is preparing his army of human rebels via this medium?
Response #1: I am very pleased to hear that you are profiting from these studies. Thank you for the encouragement of your faith.
As to video games, et al., there is no question that they can easily cause people (of all ages I might add) to become obsessive. That and content are the two primary dangers to them, in my view. As you rightly point out, the times we live in are a factor, and the devil has a very definite interest in conditioning in advance and to the greatest degree possible everyone he can to the ideas he will so forcefully advance during the Tribulation. The melding of culture and technology we see today is unquestionably furthering his purposes in this regard. So I have no doubt but that you are correct that much of the content in these games is diabolically influenced. That is certainly true of all other cultural mediums like the internet, movies, and, oh yes, television.
Television has done a lot to warp the social fabric of this country and the world. As far as that medium is concerned, there is an obsession factor too (it is not unheard of for people to spend inordinate amounts of time in front of the tube), but TV is content heavy (even if that content is mostly banal), and is a very passive medium. Our generation had to learn how to deal with it - some have and some haven't. There are things one shouldn't watch; there are limits to how much we should watch; and there is a way to watch (i.e., if one is going to watch television, one has to learn how not to pay it too much mind). Like most mergers of culture and technology, the benefits (and, admittedly, there are definite benefits), are usually less than the dangers overall. We human beings are more emotional than we realize or are willing to admit, and are more susceptible to being influenced (and traumatized) by interaction with "art". Maybe it would be better not even to have a TV set, but isolating ourselves from the world entirely is not a realistic solution in the long run either.
Video games present a slightly different problem. They are highly interactive, but the interaction they provide, especially "instant-reaction" shoot-em-up video games (to distinguish them from games like chess or other strategy games which require a less manic sort of concentration), is a very dominating one. In any game or simulation, we are turning over our normal assessment of reality to the game and its parameters; the more engaging the game, the more deeply we can get pulled in. Intellectually, we may understand that it is just a game and ultimately unimportant and meaningless, but if it begins to affect our behavior, then like any sort of "art" we need to realize that we have ceased to control it and it has started to control us. Not to belabor the point or to sound too puritanical here, but whatever in life comes to command an inordinate amount of our time, our energy, and our emotion, dominating everything else in our life at the expense of things which ought to be more important, is coming very close to being something we are "worshiping".
Life is all about choices, and every Christian is going to be tested on his/her priorities. What we give our "juice" to is, in the end, what we really love. So while I would agree with you that the content in some of these games is troubling, the obsessive behavior they are prone to generate is even more of a danger in my opinion. Interestingly, the word "culture" actually comes from the Latin verb colo which means "to till intensively", like a prize garden that one is assiduously caring for. When our "cult" is the Word of God, we can't go wrong, but if anything else besides Jesus Christ comes to have the top place in our life, in our hearts, that is where we run into trouble.
So we are back to choices. As to your friend, I will say a prayer for him. In my observation and personal experience, young people often have to search through much that is pointless before coming to realize what really is important - that is far from an uncommon occurrence as you are no doubt very well aware (I certainly can validate the principle from my own experience). And, ultimately, the problem is never so much abstaining from what is not profitable as it is becoming committed to what is good and true. Once we truly and genuinely put Jesus Christ first in our lives, even if gradually and incrementally, everything else that raises itself up against the truth of the Word of God and our spiritual advance will be trodden down as the Spirit directs our consciences in the proper directions and we respond to the Spirit's prodding - that is, if we are truly determined to grow above the weeds of this world and produce a bumper crop for Him. These choices have to come from inside, and those who take that road all the way to the end are few (Matt.7:14). But if we are only willing to have just a little faith, small as a grain of sand or a mustard seed, our merciful God will be there to help us with every forward step we choose to take. Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who continues to pick us up and draw us to Himself in spite of all our mis-steps and stumbles!
Please see also:
Spiritual Warfare I
Spiritual Warfare II
In the Name of the One who alone is worthy of our love, the One who gave His life for us, our Master Jesus Christ.
After reading your letter I want to share that Jesus pulled me out of a very dangerous lifestyle when I was younger. Then I began reading the Bible and subsequently got saved, ending up in a program where I filled myself constantly with God's Word. As a result I left there on fire for God and all His ways. But the television almost destroyed all that. Little by little I gave more and more time to watching television and ignoring the prompting of the Holy Ghost to seek God's Word. And while I never went entirely back to my old ways, I was well on my way. It indeed became idol worship, something I chose to put over and above my Lord. But as you've pointed out, Christ will get your attention. Now I may watch the news or a craft show but I've definitely gone back to giving God the majority of my time. Between reading the Bible and partaking in the Holy Ghost inspired knowledge you've chosen to share, the fire has been rekindled and my relief just can't be described.
All this to say I agree wholeheartedly with your last letter....Thanks.
Thanks for your good words, and thank you for sharing your testimony. When I think of the messes I got into earlier in my life, I realize that I had to get to the point of needing God desperately before I would let Him get my full attention. In my personal experience, while it would be ideal to get off on the right foot with the Lord from day one and stay there, it is far, far better to be the son who said "no" and later changed his mind than the son who said "yes" and didn't really mean it. We who have a lot to be forgiven often better understand just what we have in Jesus Christ. God is truly gracious beyond human conception - He brings those who really do have a spark of desire to know Him through whatever experiences are necessary in order to open up a door of humility to seek His truth and to seek Him in truth.
Thank you also for your example of persevering faith.
You might also find the following links of interest:
Christians Beware: Internet Frauds and the Need for Spiritual Discernment.
Christians Beware (part 2): Internet Frauds and the Need for Spiritual Discernment.
Mega-Churches, Emergent Christianity, Spirituality and Materialism.
Culture and Christianity I.
Culture and Christianity II.
In Him in whom we have all be washed and with whom we shall walk in white forever, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.