“Dang it! I just threw the cake on the ground, now I have to break it, pick it up and… uh. I wish I could walk-place-walk-place-walk-place like dad was doing. It would be so much easier than trying to line everything up just perfect. If only I were a programmer…” I sat and listened to my beautiful wife as she spouted out seemingly unrelated phrases, that without context were absolutely hilarious. “Matt, you can fly inside your eye! So cool.” Any thoughts as to what in the world she is talking about? Minecraft. If you have a son or daughter, maybe niece, nephew or grandkids, you have probably at least heard the name before… maybe too many times. Depending on your experience with this online video game, you may be emotionally stirred in a couple of different directions.
My first introduction into Minecraft was simply a lightweight description of the game’s tools and basic structure of gameplay for the sake of context on why this 12-year-old needed to be enrolled in resident treatment because of it. Not a very positive experience right off the bat—addictive, drawing kids to spend money on creating an alternate reality for themselves to escape in their minds, becoming less and less attached to reality. Jen’s first exposure was learning about the games ‘creative mode’ which enables players to explore their imaginations and build virtually anything they can think of. It taps into the very building block of the periodic table, just more kid-friendly and challenges the mind to craft new elements and explore new worlds. If you want to learn a little bit about computer programming and how to function in a technological culture, it almost feels like a must!
Have I struck a chord yet? Today is my oldest son’s 7th birthday. He wants a Minecraft theme as he has recently discovered the game. Like any kid in today’s world, you put a screen in front of them and they seem mesmerized for hours on end. Everything is Minecraft right now. Part of me wonders, “How can this be? My kids barely watch TV, Jen and I don’t do phone games or computer games as rewards or even the for occasional moment of peace and quiet…” Jen has been showing me the incredible potential for learning and exploration the game contains and I have to admit, the possibilities are endless! As parents we are creatively developing plans to play this game with Silas, make our own characters and build with him, using its full potential for imagination. Minecraft will not be a daily event or a ‘go play Minecraft’ in our home but I can see how easy it would become that without parental boundaries.
I just finished the book of Leviticus in my bible (track with me here). It’s not the most enjoyable book I’ve ever read, nor does it seem like it daily impacts my life in 2020. But let me share the closing verse, a couple thoughts then let you be on your way. “These are the commandments which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai” Leviticus 27:34. Forty days Moses hung out with God on that mountain, and I think he took more than one forty-day trip if my studies serve me well. Moses received instructions, commandments, laws, whatever you want to call them. These commandments were meant for protection, guidance and how to connect with God personally. Leviticus 26:3-4 give us this big clue… “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” That is great news for an agricultural culture! My point is this, Minecraft is not evil, politics are not evil, music is not evil, phones are not evil, bacon is not evil, wine is not evil, mosquitos are not evil, the internet is not evi… well, maybe the internet is evil (the jury is still out on that one!). God gives us instructions and commandment on how to live our lives and if we follow His plans we will enjoy our time with Him and in fellowship with others, even talking politics in some cases! Minecraft has the potential to become an addictive, unhealthy drug in the mind of Silas if he chooses to not follow his parents instructions, but if he plays with the guidance we have set in place, it can grow all of our imaginations, be fun for the family, a way to connect with others and a means of learning valuable lessons about the world around us. I end with this exhortation from God to the children of Israel, His people in Deuteronomy 30: 11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. 15 See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.”