In my younger days, I played a lot of video games on my computer. (Anyone remember Commander Keen and its cutting-edge use of EGA graphics in the early ’90s?) The real drain on my time, though, came with the release of Wolfenstein 3D, one of the first FPS (first-person shooter) games to employ all three dimensions. Although it looked very cheesy by today’s standards, it was mind-blowing back then. It was also very addictive — I knew that I had stayed up too late the night before playing the game when I walked down certain hallways at work and would slow my pace as I approached an intersection.
As with all FPS games (at least back then), the basic scheme of Wolfenstein 3D was simple — work your way through various levels, killing the henchmen until you reach the ultimate battle against the “boss” (the head of the bad guys). Along the way, you could pick up items that would regenerate your health (if you had been non-fatally wounded), better weaponry, and random treasure. But the bulk of your points was earned by killing the henchmen. In some FPS games, if it took more than one bullet to kill a henchman, you would earn some points for wounding him, but then even more for killing him.
Fast-forward to 2013 and shift over to the real world.
A fairly prominent blogger has put out a couple of tweets recently that are salient to my (upcoming) point. The context is unclear, but — to be honest — it’s also irrelevant. Here are the tweets in question:
You know, there’s a reason it doesn’t say “put on the smoking jacket of God, and take up the tea cup of daintiness”
You know, there’s a reason it doesn’t say “put on the faculty lounge discussion group suit of God”
He’s obviously riffing off the Scripture that advises the Christian to “[p]ut on the whole armor of God”. But there can be — and in that blogger’s tribe, there often is — a problem with applying that verse incorrectly. Because if you look at the whole verse, you notice some elaboration (emphasis mine):
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
And just in case it’s not clear enough what we’re fighting, Paul goes on in the next verse (emphasis mine):
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
You see, hearkening back to my illustration, the devil (and his demons) are the “boss”. But you know who the henchmen are? They’re people.
Are they being used to achieve the devil’s purposes? Sometimes.
Are they even doing so with full knowledge and willingness? Sometimes.
Is every last one of them a person for whom Jesus died? YES! YES! YES! 1000 times YES!
(Note: even if you’re a Calvinist who would cite your belief in limited atonement to object to that last question, you still don’t know who the “elect” — in your usage of the term — are, so practically, the answer is still “yes”.)
The “boss” needs to be killed — and Jesus will do that completely and finally one day. And if our actions in the meantime can cause a wound or two on the “boss”, that’s groovy.
But this is real life. This is not a game. We don’t get any points for (ideologically) wounding or killing the henchmen. Jesus did not come to give us “life, and life more confrontational.”