Derek: We, as Christians, need to be social. We need to get outside the four walls of the church and be in our communities in every way. If you love to game, get out there and game. If you love to play golf, get out there and play golf with everybody else. Don’t segregate yourselves. We have ghettoized ourselves as a community and we need to break down the four walls, get out there, and be Christians and love people. And let them know we are Christians. Don’t just be a nice person. Let them know that “I’m a Christian and I’m going to love and care for you.” Do it in our games and do it in our every day lives.
Dave: Two stories about that. Seven years ago, I was living in an apartment and got a new neighbor. I was at work, my wife was helping them unpack, and said “oh, Dungeons and Dragons books. My husband used to play that kind of stuff. Fantasy’s not my genre and D&D; is not what I usually play, but I thought, “hey, it’s a way to get to know the neighbor.” And what was nifty was that on a Tuesday night, around 8:30, put the kids to bed, knock on the door and say “hey, how about we play for an hour.” That was really convenient. We got to know them really well and within five months, he started coming to church with me and he and his wife were baptized. He asked me if I would be the one who would baptize him and I was really honored.
But, a sadder story, is that a year and a half ago, a friend of a friend, who had just joined my game, died in his sleep. He was just 25 and it was real obvious that he wasn’t leading a godly life. But I was never able to bring up the topic of God to him. And the opportunity was closed. I decided from that point that anyone at my gaming table was going to know where I stand and if there’s any way that I can help, I will do that.
How can people better develop a sense of discernment when it comes to gaming?
Dave: I suppose the same way you develop discernment in any category: you learn by making mistakes. The only way to get good is to start off being bad.
Andy: I think prayer is key in everything that we do. When we’re trusting God to lead us, I think God will do that for us. And I think God will give us discernment even if we’re not emotionally or spiritually mature enough to have that discernment. If we’re trusting in Him, I think He comes through for us.
Derek: I’d add to it get a good education. We have so many people who are woefully ignorant about the origins of things. I am an uber-geek. At nine years old, I read Bullfinch’s mythology. So I understood when I read the D&D; books that this was based off Greek mythology. Many kids don’t have a good, classical education nor do their parents. Being married to a teacher makes me say this as well. So get a good education, have prayer, and the Bible better be central to a good Christian’s life in that. There’s no pat answer, you just have to work at it.
In light of all of the “what would Jesus do?” slogan, would Jesus game?
Dave: I think he certainly would. He sat and ate with “sinners”. He met the woman at the well and spoke with her. There’s a book called God Loves the Freaks (it’s the book centered on the site FansForChrist.org). In it, he takes the approach that Jesus approached everyone differently. He walks up to Zaccheus and says “hey, I’m going to have dinner at your house tonight.” And he talked to the wise young ruler, who was not all that wise, and said “I want you to give away all that you have and then come follow me.” He didn’t have any pat answers or pat approaches. He used people where they are as a way to get into their lives. And if Jesus was trying to minister to a gaming community, he would sit down and he would start gaming.
Derek: I would say that there’s not an easy answer to that question. I’m sure Jesus played games as a child. I’m sure He played games and used his imagination. A great book that I read was Christ the Lord by Anne Rice. Of course it was a fictionalized account of Jesus’ childhood but I think she does a great job of talking about some things.
But I also view Jesus’ life as His vocation. Jesus came for a purpose. So while He is fully man and fully God, I think sometimes we try to bring Jesus down to our level and that negates His vocation. What would Jesus do? Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost. Jesus came to die on a cross to redeem an entire world that we might be resurrected and have new bodies and have a new life for all eternity with Him. When we ask ourselves those questions, we miss the central part of who Jesus is and that is the Redeemer of the world.