Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Virtual Lives

(Proverbs 6:9–11 NKJV)  How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
The movie "The Matrix" has come true! 

The premise of the movie is that machines have taken over the world and only keep human beings alive as a sort of biological battery that generates electricity. The humans are actually kept in dark drawers - asleep - hooked up to life support - in huge subterranean automated complexes.  People experience life in a virtual world - the Matrix - while they in fact are lying in their drawer generating electricity for the machines.  It seems real, but it is really a plugged in experience that happens over the phone lines.

Isn't this true for many people?  Don't vast numbers of people spend hour upon hour plugged in to machines?  Isn't it true that many people have more interaction with a virtual world than they do with a real world?  People are known in the virtual world by their "nicknames."  They are concerned about their avatar as much as they are about their own appearance.  They experience life vicariously in on-line games - and in many cases care more about success in that world, than they care about relationships and experiences in the real world.  They devote hours of effort earning virtual credits for accomplishing virtual tasks in a virtual world in competition with other gamers who they will never know outside of the game world.

So what's the problem? 

Virtual life is not life!  It is a substitute for the real thing.  It is at best a dream, and at worst a delusion.  Virtual life is very attractive - maybe even addictive.  There are less risks in the virtual world than in the real world.  You can do incredible things - fight epic battles - do magic - leap, shoot, jump, kick, flip and maybe fly.  And you don't even need to stretch first.  You will never get a bruise or bump or a torn ligament.  You will not be embarrassed in the virtual world - nobody really knows it is you.  Go ahead and shoot and steal and kill and maim in the virtual world - it is all pretend anyway!  You might even get killed in the virtual world, but you live again a few moments later!

But the fact that it is not life does not make it safe.  It is certainly entertaining, but it is not profitable.  At the very least it is eating up people's lives.  Instead of really living life, they are pretending to live life while their time on earth slips past.

Real life involves real people in the real world.  There are relationships to develop and maintain through person to person interaction.  There are real life tasks to be accomplished that take our physical presence and effort.  In the real world our actions affect other people's real lives for good or evil.  We might be genuine heroes - save a life, comfort the distraught or help a little old lady across the street.

Real life has real risks and benefits.  A real life workout will improve your health, but you have to put up with the sweat and pain.  A real life conversation about spiritual realities might lead a person to an understanding of the truth about eternal life, but it also might result in rejection.

Jesus Christ said that He had come that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly.  (John 10:10)  When we face Jesus and give an account, will He be interested in the level of success we had in our virtual games?  Will He be disappointed with the hours we spent entertaining ourselves when we could have been living a real life in His service?
(Romans 13:11–13 NKJV) And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

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