I have a castle. My daughter has one too. For those who aren’t aware, there is an incredibly addictive video game that has been dominating records for the past several years, and I’m not talking about Pokemon Go. I’m talking about Minecraft. Admittedly, I’m late to the game on this one, but my oldest daughter is now old enough to manipulate a video game controller, and poking about in the pixelated world in which the game is set, has become one of our joint pastimes. Now lest you think I’m allowing my children’s’ minds to be corroded by the digital play boxes of Xbox, I’ll have you know that, thanks to my wife, they have a robust homeschool education that ends with fantastic Bible stories every night. Before that, though, we game.
Minecraft is a bit like playing with Legos, except on a flat screen television. Well, it would be like Legos if you had to use a pickaxe and a chemistry lab to gather ingredients and then formulate the Lego blocks before being able to build with them. Rather than opening a bag and dumping out a huge collection of plastic bricks, in Minecraft, one must first dig through the virtual world to find the ingredients needed to build . . . everything. This actually includes the pickaxe you intend to use. However, this is not a review of Minecraft.
With our television screen split into two sections, my daughter and I work in the same environment from our own perspectives and function as a team. I gather ingredients, then she constructs the items necessary for building, then we plan and build our own structures. We had actually developed a pretty expansive property, complete with bedrooms, a kitchen and a couple of guesthouses. It’s a real bonding experience. Seriously. Then it happened.
One of Jolie’s friends came over and informed us that we were wasting our time digging, crafting, building, digging, crafting and building –again and again. All we had to do, she informed us, was switch the settings to “creative mode.” There players are given infinite materials. Everything that one could possibly build in the game was immediately accessible and would never be depleted. No longer should we be bothered with the menial tasks of peasant workers. We could have it all . . . NOW!
I became drunk with power. In short order I had created a regal mansion of stone. Then I reconsidered the lowly grey appearance and covered much of it with silver . . . no . . . GOLD! I then built a massive throne room. Meanwhile, Jo was building a ten-mile roller coaster because . . . why not. Yet, after an hour, we both reached the same conclusion. Jolie uttered the words, “Daddy, it’s not the same. It’s . . . not as good.”
We weren’t working together anymore. We weren’t working at all. The dopamine rush that hits the brain, when that tiny chunk of iron ore is finally discovered at the bottom of a cave, was gone. We didn’t need each other anymore to complete the tasks, and because there was no threat or lack of resources the game had lost its value and soul.
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus delivers the famous saying,
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
Unfortunately, because we all immediately think of Sunday school songs about this teaching it is common enough to read over it thinking we know the meaning already. However, the words are preceded by the terrifying revelation, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Not even those who have prophesied, cast out demons or worked miracles will necessarily enter in.
Building a house is a huge investment that must be taken seriously. Building on sand, therefore, is foolish. Man’s entire life is like an investment. Each decision contributes to the building of that house. Every choice should be weighed, because every choice is a brick in the edifice being built. On your deathbed, you will have spent your last coin, as it were, and then you will find out if your investment has been good.
In our world of on-demand everything, people can have any song ever written in thirty seconds. Almost anywhere in America, they can travel twenty minutes from their homes and have a variety of world cuisines. Movie rental is antiquated, in an age where we can have any film in seconds from our couches. We are an On-Demand society.
In our excess it is easy to switch into “creative mode” and build our own realities on sand. But the text is speaking of false prophets and those who listen to them. Indeed, and many of those are encouraging a broad path of sand that leads to destruction (not to mix metaphors). Yet, that world is tasteless, and lacks value. It’s like old chewing gum that’s lost its flavor.
In the end I found myself sitting in a vast kingdom of gold on a pixelated 8-bit throne. My daughter was in her own kingdom far away in another land. We decided to go back to our simple life of work and community. I left the castle behind.