I’m not a ‘gamer’. I’ve never been interested in playing computer games. I’ve been able to force myself in the past but I’m just not that interested in playing in a fictional digital world. With all that said, this Christmas I downloaded a game onto my iPad, which has got me hooked. The game is one of those build-a-city kind of games based around pirates who have to go off and find treasure at my command. I tell them to build me houses, workshops and taverns.
At first I loved it but gradually I’ve become incredibly bored playing. Partly because it’s taking too long to complete but also I’m finding it irritating that I have to constantly tell my little pirate workers what to do. I mean after four weeks of playing, I would have hoped that they could now start to use a little of their own initiative. When the boat is ready to set sail or when someone is hungry, then some other pirate could get them some food. But all they do is wait for my response. Recently a crocodile appeared on my island; the other pirates stood and watched as it ate one of my prize builders. None of them budged and then they walked off when the show was over.
All I want them to do is think for themselves and solve some of their own problems, but I realise what they want me to be is a dictator. I want my pirate army to know how I think and then put that into practice without me having to tell them what to do each hour of the day. What I am looking for are some pirate partners in the work of building my pirate empire.
I wonder if this frustration is how God feels about me. I often see an issue and pray for God to resolve it; often I wait to be told what to do next without using my own intuition, often I rely upon my creator to give me my orders like some cosmic gamer in the sky. I believe that God didn’t create us to simply bow down and worship Him, although worship is good. I also believe that He created us to be partners with Him. Often we behave like God is some distant command giver rather than a present partner in a big resurrection project.
This has to be why the gospel writers tell us that when Jesus had the problem of feeding 5,000, rather than just solving the catering problem on his own, he asks his disciples what they thought he should do. Jesus already knew how he would deal with the starving public, but invited his creation to work out the response with him.
I wonder when there are people starving in Africa, families struggling to pay their rent or people grieving the loss of a loved one, how often we are asking God to solve the issue but Jesus is saying to us: “Be the answer to your prayers.”
Jesus asked his disciples how they thought the catering issue should be solved; Jesus got them involved in the process of bringing about change and I think he does the same with us today.
We see there is a need and Jesus invites us to be his hands and feet.
My island is still going. My pirates and I have built a lot and saved a number of princes in distress. But imagine how much more we could do, if they were willing to partner with me rather than be controlled by me.