I have been a gamer since I was a little kid. I can remember playing the original Mario game on the brick called the original Gameboy that I received on a beautiful Christmas morning. It was so long ago that you couldn’t even save your progress so if you wanted to beat a game you had to play it for hours and hours straight!(insert gasps of anyone under 20 here) My love for gaming continued through childhood with the Nintendo 64(what odd controllers those were) and countless hours playing sports games with friends through Junior High and High School. Video games are a big part of who I am. As I grew throughout these years in my journey with Christ, I wondered where gaming fit into the Christian life. There are some obvious possible positives and negatives about gaming but I wanted to focus on one of the many instances where I have learned something about myself and have been able to grow in my faith through playing video games.
Recently, I have been playing the finale to the fantastic Batman series, Arkham Knight. So many of the characters in the world of Batman are extremely interesting. One of the big take aways I have been able to glean is what made each the criminals in the story turn into the “bad guy.” In seeing what led them to do bad things, we can recognize those patterns in ourselves and cut them out of our lives. Let me give you the biggest example of this that I found in the game.
Two-face, whose real name is Harvey Dent, is a villain in the Batman universe that most people have at least heard of through pop culture, the recent Batman movies, comics or video games. Dent was an upstanding district attorney who partnered with Batman to dedicate their lives to putting the worst criminals in jail in a city rampant with crime and corruption. Sadly, Dent was driven insane after a mob boss threw acidic chemicals in his face during trial, leaving terrible scaring and disfigurement on half of his face. The event changed him from being a shining knight of justice to now one of the most notorious crime lords in Gotham.
As I was playing through this story line, I started thinking about how one of the biggest complaints about Christians is that we are “two-faced,” teaching one thing at Church and living a different way. Everyone has met a christian who acted like one person at church and completely different person elsewhere. I met one a while back that I couldn’t stand. I saw him all the time, couldn’t get away from him and avoided him as much as I could. The time I saw him most was in the mirror. Yep, it was me.
I was at a point in my life that I was very compartmentalized. There was “Church Taylor,” “Athlete Taylor,” “Student Taylor” and other variations of myself that didn’t seem to mesh with each other. It got to a point a few years later during college that someone told me something that rocked my world. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “Taylor, do you know what I like about you? You are one person at Church and a completely different person when it is just us.” This was the point where I had to stare at myself in the mirror and decide who I wanted to be.
I realized that no matter what happens, I am just one person and can’t be a different person in all of these different scenarios. I needed to let God and my life with Him permeate every single aspect of my life.
The Bible says that Christians will be known by our fruit. Instead of being fruit that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who see us as “two-faced,” I want people to be able to look at our Christian communities and see in us our love for God and His people. Love is attractive. The only way we will be able to be a loving community, a community that attracts others to a relationship with Christ, is to be connected to the Vine.
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful…Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” If we are going to bear fruit as God asks, we need to cling to the Father and cut away the parts of ourselves that are holding us back. God is never done working on us. He wants us to be “even more fruitful” and wants us to help Him in molding and forming us throughout our lives. What are the things that make you “two-faced”? What can you do to cut them out of your life so that you can be more fruitful?
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