Recently, I was given a new figure for my desk. Yes, I’m a pastor, but I’m also a geek. My desk reflects that. I’ve got a little Star Wars on my desk, so yes, there are pieces of inspirational Christian art, but they sit alongside a Stormtrooper helmet as well. I see nothing wrong with that, as metaphorically, that’s a pretty good reflection of my mind.
Anyways, the figure was from the old Taito game, Space Invaders, originally released in 1978. That game is older than me, and maybe, it’s older than some reading this. Still, some of you may remember when it came out, and if so, I tip my hat to you in respect! Still, even though it’s been released on virtually every gaming platform in various forms, it is still one of my favorites. Talk about a core gaming experience. You control a laser weapon at the bottom of the screen behind defense bunkers lined across the screen, and you move it horizontally while firing at aliens that descend from the top of the screen. Each row of aliens move back and forth as they advance down the screen. Points are earned by shooting the aliens, and as most old-school games go, the aliens move faster as you go along. The loop of aliens never ends. The aliens, also, fire back as they approach, destroying the bunkers gradually and aiming to hit the player. In some versions, a ship may move out of formation, leading to extra points if shot down. The basics behind this game are also observed in other games such as Galaga & Galaxian, among many others. It ranks up there with Pong, Pac-Man, and Tetris in being recognizable across pop culture, so being given this piece of geekery wasn’t my first exposure to its iconography. Still, when I thought about it, I was struck by how the concept of the game made me think about sin.
Genesis 4:7 (NKJV)
…Sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.
You see, sin isn’t a game, even though many flirt with it as if it was one. No, sin is devastating and relentless in its effect and threat. Just like the game, it may bombard us in waves, and for moments in our lives, we may feel a bit of reprieve, but we must know that as we continue living, it will continue attacking. Sometimes, we think we can recognize it, but it weaves around when we couldn’t see that move coming. It’s tricky and deceptive, and the enemy excels at finding new ways of keeping it coming. Satan isn’t called our adversary for nothing. Sin will advance and encroach upon our lives, and yes, it will invade…if we allow it. It will fill every crack and crevice in our heart, and we can be completely consumed by it. You see, Christians: prior to Christ, we had no bunker ,and we had no way to shoot back. The invasion began, and there was nothing to fight it back. We were lost in our sins, and because of it, we see so many in the world enveloped in it without a thought otherwise. Yet, with Christ as our Savior, we have a defense. He, the one who knew no sin, looked the adversary in the eye and withstood temptation. Following Christ’s lead through the Holy Spirit and His Word, we can beat back temptation as well. The enemy cannot be the victor when we truly allow Christ to lead our lives. Still, many believers forsake the defenses afforded by Christ. They “go their own way”, and it leads to ruin. Their name is sullied, as is the name of Christians everywhere when sin wins in the lives of believers. We all are facing battles, but we must endeavor to win, being led by Christ in those efforts, not our own sense of willpower.
1 Peter 5:8-9
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
This doesn’t have to be. Know that sin is not a game. Know that it will invade if you allow it. Stay vigilant against its rushes at you, expected or unexpected. Just as Christ used the Word to dispel the enemy, use it to show sin only has the power we allow it to have. Be proactive in viewing sin as an ever-advancing temptation and threat. Basically, be alert! Just like you would be in Space Invaders, pay attention to what’s headed your way!