It’s Not A Game

As I was leaving Sunday School at my old church back in my hometown, the teacher made a remark that sometimes we treat Christianity like it’s a game. It’s one of those statements that I’d heard before but there’s a part of me that when I hear such a statement, I want to say “If only we did so.”

Ironically as I was looking last night through C.S. Lewis’s “The Four Loves.” Not for anything for the blog, but just because I wanted to glance through. I had a number of parts highlighted and maybe you’re like me that when you go through a book and see highlighted parts, you want to find out why they were highlighted. (It’s also interesting when you get a used book from somewhere else and you see what the reader highlighted and wonder why he highlighted that.)

On page 90, this is what I found:

It is one of the most difficult and delightful subtleties of life that we must deeply acknowledge certain things to be serious and yet retain the power and will to treat them often as lightly as a game.

I believe Lewis is on to something. I do see Christianity as serious of course, but I often think it would be good if we treated it as a game. I know many people who love to play a game and when they play that game, they take it very seriously, and this includes myself. They want to do the best that they can and they practice. Most people don’t have the same sort of enthusiasm for their jobs.

Would it do us good if we saw Christianity as a game? We often speak of Lewis and Tolkien and how they wrote stories that were meant to point to the greatest story of all. It’s a shame that we love those stories so much, yet so often we fail to enjoy the story that we’re in.

Go out and find the average person on the street. Make a movie out of their life story. If you make it true to their life and know how to write, direct, produce, etc. you will have a blockbuster film no matter who it is. Real life is interesting.

Do we play our lives as if we want to win the game? Do we even see it that way? If you’re playing a game, you do the best you can do at what you do. You don’t want to lose. You don’t want to be defeated. If there comes a challenge in the game, well that makes the game all the more enjoyable. In fact, you go out there and you expect that there will be challenges.

Peter Kreeft once said that apologetics is as close as you get to saving the world. Of course, someone already did that 2,000 years ago, but imagine seeing yourself in your Christian life as playing some role in the plan of God. Now I’m not talking about finding God’s will for your life. I believe there are many possible roles you could play. You have great freedom to ad-lib. However, you are to play a role. 

If only we could really grasp that and I would love to see the church do that. To realize that we are on a mission and maybe we’d fulfill the role of the church better. Now not everyone is in the apologetics field extensively. I realize that. I think everyone should have some skill, but not everyone is going to make this study the basis of their lives. That’s fine. It doesn’t mean my work is completely independent of yours.

I am thankful for the counselors and encouragers of the church and the role they play. I once had someone who regularly told me at my church when he saw me “Be encouraged!” He stopped doing it and that’s too bad because it was always good to hear. There’s something nice about getting a message out of the blue and knowing that someone appreciates you. We’ve all got that (I hope!) at some time in our lives.

What would that mean if we played the game right? If we realized we’re all in this together? There really are things out there that are evil and we really are called to stop them. We are told to be salt and light. We are serving the most awesome and glorious being that there is and he has sent us out there to redeem this world for good.

Stop and think about that. If you’re a gamer like me, consider your favorite RPG for instance. (As I type this, I just finished up awhile ago Final Fantasy IV, The After Years.) You do enjoy playing it and the focus of good conquering evil and maybe you’d like to be the hero of the story. (If you can rename the hero in the story and put in your own, this works even better.) In some ways, you are. This story has multiple heroes however all playing different parts and when we get to eternity, we’ll find out what we did and what rewards we had and they will be based on how well we played the game.

Prayer is not something just nebulous then. It’s talking to the one who is in charge and the one who has the power to help you complete your task. The Bible is not just a lifeless book. It’s a book that can essentially unlock the secrets of ultimate reality to you and by studying it and learning, you can be better equipped. Gaining knowledge is the quest to uncover more of the divine truths the creator has placed in the universe be it in the area of science, philosophy, history, literature, mathematics, etc.

Christianity is not a game. No. It’s serious. Yet maybe we should follow the advice of Lewis and treat this serious object lightly. Maybe we should actually enjoy what we do and realize that serving God is not meant to be a misery as we can often paint it out to be, but a great joy.

Go play!

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