Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Life, Gaming, and the Gospel: Here's a riddle for you...

Here's a riddle for you:
"A Man pushed his Car to a Hotel and lost all his Money.  A one word answer explains it all."

And here's the answer:
Just a little poll, by the raise of hands:  who here likes Monopoly?  It's a simple enough game, really, requiring almost no interaction between people apart from taking their money.  You start at Go, a brand new businessman with $1500 burning a hole in your pocket.  Now, all that separates you from fantastic wealth or crushing defeat are the odds of the dice, and who can buy and upgrade property the most quickly.  Every time you round 'Go' again, you get $200 salary.  Any other money you get comes from the other players, when they have the bad fortune to land on your property and have to pay you rent.

Now another poll:  Who actually likes Monopoly?  As in, if you had a choice of any board game in the world, who here would choose to play Monopoly?  It really isn't that interesting, and doesn't require all that much strategy:  You roll your dice, move your little figurine, and either buy a property, pay rent, or draw a card, and upgrade whatever you can afford to upgrade.  This is repeated for about three hours, depending on the game and any additional house rules.  Usually, by the end of hour two, I'm ready to blow my brains out from boredom and frustration.

Now, who here can see a relationship between Monopoly and the Gospel?  How about between Monopoly and life?  So often, we get caught up in the rat race of going around, getting money, screwing our neighbors, that we forget why we're really here.  It gets both boring and frustrating to play like this, and after a while you realize that you're back where you started.  Sure, you might win the game, and make everyone else go out of business, but by the end neither you nor anyone else playing is really happy.

So where does somebody find happiness?  It's not in the money.  It's not in knowledge, though knowledge is good.  Rather, happiness comes from living your life according to God's commandments.  It makes you feel happy, and it helps others. 

Let's take an example:  you see a friend who needs some help.  Let's say that they're moving and need your assistance.  After you've helped them, even if they don't pay, don't you feel good?

You're playing with your kids, and your kids break something.  Which makes you happier: to shout at and beat them? or to speak gently and help them to see that what they did was wrong?

God gives us commandments because he loves us.  They aren't a restrictive ruleset made up to make us miserable.  Rather, they are to help us live happily.  That's really all God wants us to do.  Live life.  Be nice to each other.  In the words of Bobby McFerrin,
(Just a postscript:  I wish I had that song on a CD.)

(Also, a postscript:  We played monopoly with one of our investigators a few days ago.  It was actually a lot of fun, though frustrating because people would skip past my almost two sides of property, and then land on my companions one block of hotels.  Oh well.)

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