Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dead Rising and the Urgency of God's Work

Capcom's "Dead Rising" was one of the first games to hit the Xbox 360. It was released well before zombie survival games became as common as they are now. The series has a few factors that distinguish itself from it's fellow brain-eating franchises but one of of the most significant ones is the in-game countdown clock.

From the time the game begins the protagonist Frank is given a task and a time limit. He is told to record a zombie outbreak in a California Mall, and report back to the roof in three days to get picked up. Once the player gains control, the time starts and the days pass by within the game as you play it, regardless of how far you advance the plot. Because of this, you can finish the game without accomplishing your task. Each side mission in the game also has a time limit, and if you do not complete it within that time limit, the mission is lost and can never be completed. This means you can play through the entire game and accomplish nothing, yet doing so would be completely fulfilling. Every one I have hear talk about the game did the missions. Nobody spent the entire three days wandering aimlessly because that would be unfulfilling, and quite frankly boring. Though goofing off and mindlessly saying zombies is fun for a time, eventually players return to the task at hand because that is how you have the best game experience.

Our lives as Christians are the same way. Once we become new creations through our acceptance of Christ, we are given a task: "Go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." We also have a time limit "Man, who is born of woman, is short lived and full of turmoil...Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You[God]; and his limits you have set so that he cannot pass." On an even smaller scale, God places people in our lives so that we can help them grow closer to him, yet those people will only be in our lives for a limited time.

As Christians, we could live our lives simply seeking our own desires, or worldly successes, yet they will leave us unfulfilled and wanting more. Dianne Roffe, an Olympic gold medalist said this about winning the gold medal "There s a big bucket of melancholy athletes can fall I am struggling with the masses to make ends meet, get school done, seeking that exceptional feeling again. I really struggled." (NBC News). Even accomplishing something as amazing as winning gold at the Olympics is not fulfilling. Only by serving God's purpose can truly live life as we were meant to.

But we know that. Every Christian knows that. But the mistake we so commonly make is we put doing God's work off. We use excuses like "I am not wise enough to teach" or "I don't know enough scripture to spread the gospel" or "I am just too busy right now. Later once I graduate/get-time-off/finish-this-business-deal/retire I will do what God wants but until then I just can't." Or maybe we even tried to minister to someone, but got rejected so now we feel inadequate. When I played through Dead Rising, a similar thing happened to me. I had just finished a story mission, and the follow up mission was available for me to do. Yet instead of trying to beat the mission, I decided to just goof off in the game for a while. It was the second day, so I still had a whole day left to get everything done. What could possibly go wrong?

Then, things went wrong.

At the end of the second day in the game, everything changes. Due to government involvement in the zombie outbreak, the military comes in to clean up the mess. Now instead of wandering around the mall facing easily avoidable zombie hordes, I wandered around the mall dodging combat drones and swat teams that shoot on sight.  The story mission that I had put off because I could get to it at any time was now almost impossible to reach.

In life, things can go wrong at any moment. You  could lose your job, have a serious injury, many things could happen that will make serving God a challenge. Not only that, but people who God has placed in your life so that you can impact them could be unexpectedly gone in an instant. "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes ought to say "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."

In Dead Rising, if Frank returns to the Helicopter having taken no pictures, and nothing to show for his time there, he would be a failure as a reporter.

Don't let life pass you by without doing the task that God has called us to. Because on judgement day, when you stand before God and he asks you what you have done for his kingdom, you don't want to have to say you were a failure as his servant.