Google has updated its algorithm. The reason given in the CNET article I read about it is that
Search engine optimizers had learned how to game the earlier algorithm to make low-quality writing more visible than quality content. Instead of preparing Web pages designed to benefit readers, SEO-focused content farms were writing for search engines.
I like the word and concept of “gaming.” It succinctly describes something that it seems to me we are wired to try and do. Those who gamed Google found ways to get the search engine to prefer their websites to others.
In my observation (of myself and others) we try to game God. We tend to want to find the way to get by on as little as possible and still get the prize we believe God is holding (usually referring to as eternal life in heaven after death here).
In a conversation I had with several young people over the weekend, they were, as so many are, focused entirely on “what do I have to do to get to heaven?” Finally, I asked them, “If you had to give up your free will but in return received an absolute guarantee you’d make it into heaven, would you do it?”
They looked at me very seriously and said, “Yes!”
Oddly, this is more than God requires, and each of the youth immediately said they would gladly give up their free will. (The irony is, of course, a decision to give up one’s free will is a matter of free will.) The sticking point to this is one cannot actually give up one’s free will once and for all, but would have to do so at every turn.
On the contrary, what God requires is a giving up of our claim to free will rather than giving up our free will itself. This is the “dying to self” that Jesus calls us to, and without which Jesus says we cannot follow him.
It turns out our attempts to game God deny or avoid the very thing that God seeks with us; a relationship. Gaming God reduces life to “getting to heaven” or ” not having to go to hell,” or, even more simply, a list of rules to follow.
Relationships are not about lists of rules – though there may be rules involved. Relationships, rather, are about all levels of interaction in which trust and intimacy are built and shared.
Tired of gaming God? That’s a good thing, because gaming God won’t work; cannot get you what you want. Interested in a relationship with the One who created and is the source of life? That’s what God wants, too.