Before PokemonGo, Jesus Said "Go" -- Matthew 28:18-20 (Wednesday Night Reflection)
Last year a game released for mobile phone and tablet users that has taking over the mobile gaming industry. In 2013 Candy Crush’s candy matching game took the lead as the most played mobile game, but it was quickly pushed aside over the past year by users in search of elusive little pocket monsters for collection and battle. It was July of 2016 that Niantic released PokémonGo…and changed the mobile game industry. As opposed to Candy Crush type games that you can just sit and play, PokémonGo was designed to get folks out and about. Landmarks, Museums, Churches (like HIUMC), and other places of interest were marked as either Pokestops (where gear to play can be collected) or Gyms (where battles are held). In addition to catching Pokemon in the wild, eggs can be hatched through walking with the game app opened up. The game was designed to get folks active while playing a game.
I will tell you that I was initially opposed to (mostly out of ignorance and judgment) and not interested in playing the game. That is until one day when I was sitting in my office at St. Paul’s. I noticed a car driving through the church parking lot, going back and forth at one point just a matter of feet. I went out to see if the young man driving the car needed some kind of help. He replied, “No, I just needed to catch the Bulbasaur in your parking lot.” After seeing the initial look of confusion on my face, he explained he was playing PokemonGo.
It was then that I decided if young people were going to be coming around the church doing that kind of thing, I needed to know more about the game, so I began playing…then Joshua started playing…and Anita, watching the fun we were having, started playing too…though the newness and excitement of Island life has curbed our playing a good bit…
However, Niantic was not the first to try and get a generation to get up off their rear-ends and get moving in the world around them. It was said before computerized technology was even thought of. It happened almost two thousand years ago. You see, before Pokémon said “Go,” Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
You know, each of the Gospel authors offers Jesus’ commission to make disciples in a different way…seeking to connect with their particular audience in a way that was needed. Most of the time we consider that the Gospel of Matthew was written for a primarily Jewish audience, particularly in light of the way it continually points to ways that Jesus said or did different things in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, however, part of me wants to consider that Matthew had modern day Christians in mind as he penned his understanding and experience of Christ’s presence in the world.
Why? Because somehow over the years since Jesus, something happened, even within our Wesleyan heritage. Somehow we have come to the point of thinking that all we have to do to fulfill the Great Commission is sit within the four walls of a given sanctuary and wait for folks to drop in and visit. We might even do a thing or two to try and attract new visitors to our church—special events, a different kind of music, a new pastor, catchy slogans on the marquee, ads in the local paper; or even Facebook posts and tweets. There’s nothing really wrong with any of those things, particularly the new pastor ;), however they all seem to be based on things that could be accomplished sitting in these pews or the recliners in our living room. They are all initiatives that potentially involve us waiting for folks to drop in on us, for folks to come to us.
The words of Jesus, in response, say to us, “Get up off your posterior and go out those doors…make disciples of all you meet…without regard to nationality, ethnicity, political ideologies, language, social or economic status, physical, emotional, or mental disability, or any other factor”…”Go,” Jesus says, “Go…Baptize them into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…then sit with them, work with them, and teach them…teach them as I have taught you….”
“Go,” Jesus says.
“Why,” we might ask.
Because, as 2nd Peter 3:9 suggests,
God intends to “catch us all.”
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
1) Why do you think when Jesus says “Go,” we have a tendency to stay put and wait for folks to come to us?
2) Do we take seriously that God asks us to go into ALL the world…meaning we reach out making disciples of folks who aren’t necessarily like us?
a. What causes us to hesitate to do that?
3) How can we begin to “go into all the world” right here on Harkers Island?