Home > Unlikely Teachers of Spirituality > Unlikely Teachers of Spirituality: Video Games

Unlikely Teachers of Spirituality: Video Games

After writing my Simply Church post entitled Confession, a lot of people responded with surprise at my vulnerability. I was surprised by the surprise. For me, talking about myself and my character flaws is pretty easy. They are numerous and I’m well aware of them. In my mind, it is much more scary, requires much more vulnerability, and is much more anxiety inducing to write an interpretation of Scripture and put it on the internet. Scripture simply matters so much more than me. Getting that wrong feels much more negative than letting people know I’m still in the process of being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, much like everyone else. Yet, people seemed to like it, so here’s a brief series about me that’ll probably include some of that vulnerability stuff.

It’s been a long time since I’ve played Halo 3 with any consistency. I used to play online a lot and I loved it. Do you know what I remember from that game? I remember all the cool moments. I remember all the times I would take over a game and really be the factor that won it for my team. I remember the moments when I should have died, but in a flash developed a strategy and executed it so well that I survived. I remember ridiculous runs where it seemed like I was truly invincible. I remember it being fun. I remember all the things I did well.

Do you know what I remember from the rest of my life? It’s mostly the moments I failed. I mostly remember everything I didn’t do right. Most of what sticks in my memory are not life’s highlights, but my lowlights. It takes a tremendous amount of effort for me to remember anything I’ve ever done to bring light into the world, and even when I can remember such a thing, the memory is overshadowed by… shadows. Sometimes memories flood my mind as if a dam holding reminders of my multitudinous failures burst open. What I have done wrong, big mistakes and little, aren’t only things that take little effort to remember, but at times it takes tremendous effort not to focus on them.

The way that I think about video games is a lot better way than the way I think about most life events. The truth is there are probably many times in my life when I actually have brought light into the world. The truth is I’ve done some good things in my life and there have been moments when I’ve made others feel loved. I definitely believe it can be important to think about past mistakes in order to learn from them, but focusing on them continuously is very counterproductive and incredibly discouraging. More important than being counterproductive, giving my mistakes power to define me requires that I live in a self-deluded world.

I have to forget the forgiveness of God in order to believe that my sin has any business defining who I am. Scripture’s imagery used to describe what God’s forgiveness does to our errors makes living controlled by past failures seem quite silly. Forgiveness cleans us. No one washes the dirt off their hands and thinks their hands are still dirty because they used to be dirty. Forgiveness removes sin from us as far as the east is from the west. Our sin has been placed on another and that sin has died, and the sin is no more. Nothing is more powerless than something that is not. The way I look at video games is way more real than the way I sometimes look at the rest of my life.

The more that I think about my past, present, and future the way I think about video games the better off I am. If I’m just a giant mistake maker, then I’m probably going to avoid doing things where mistakes are probable. If see myself as someone who’s done a lot of awesome things (like in Halo) and happened to make some mistakes a long the way, then the chance that I’ll make a mistake is far less likely to prevent me from engaging in an activity. I will be far more likely to engage in more risk-taking activities and pursue more arduously difficult things worth doing because if I screw it up, it won’t be another mistake to add to my mistake cesspool, but rather just something that happens sometimes while trying to be outstanding. Still, my default is ruminating on the cesspool, but the mistake of sometimes ruminating on the cesspool is just something that happens sometimes on the journey of being a superlative new creation in a tired old world.

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