Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Little PvP

In the video game world, PvP stands for Player vs. Player. This kind of gameplay involves two or more humans in competition inside the game world. The goal is usually to kill or destroy the opponent(s) often tied in with other objectives similar to capture the flag. The other type of gameplay is PvE or Player vs. Environment. In this style, a player will battle computer generated challenges either solo or with a group. The objectives are varied. Sometimes the two types overlap but more often than not the skills and tactics applicable to PvE are very different from PvP. Some games include both types of gameplay while others are exclusively one or the other. But enough about computer games. If you're reading this it is because you think I'm going to make a point sooner or later.

Imagine this scenario. You are talking with a friend and during the discussion you mention that you go to Such and Such Church of Christ (we'll stick with CoC here because that is what I know). Your friend says "Oh, that's the church that does..." what? When an outsider generally unfamiliar with that group thinks of them and tries to put it into words, what do they say. Let us assume that they have a general idea about the religious tribe, maybe they even associate with a similar group meeting at another location. What is the first impression or reputation of your group?

While this may seem hypothetical, it is very real to me right now. We have been visiting another local congregation, just feeling things out and trying to determine God's will. When we are conversing with our friends at our current church and the topic comes up, guess what they say about the other church? I'll tell you what they don't say. They don't say "Oh, that's the church that feeds the homeless people in downtown Austin every Wednesday morning." "Oh, that's the church that runs a large food pantry working together with other Austin churches to feed the hungry." "That's the church that visits sick people in the hospital." "That's the church that supports the children's home." "That's the church that preaches Christ's grace and love to anyone that will listen." They don't say any of those things. Because this is the church that is a little too progressive on "letting" women participate in their worship and classes. This is not a hypothetical, it is part of a conversation we have had several times in recent weeks and the next time I will be responding quite differently (yet still in love...I hope).

If someone looked at your church what would they see? If someone looked at you what would they say? What would be the one sentence answer for who you are? It is a shame that we do not see like Jesus sees. Where were you when I was hungry or thirsty or in prison or sick? Did you visit me? Did you feed me? Or were you too busy making sure that you did everything just right so that you never had time to do the things that really mattered? Or maybe you were too busy making sure everyone else was doing everything right? Or maybe you are doing what you can, but you just cannot let go of those few prejudices that keep you from working with the church down the street. Whatever the case is...STOP IT! Focus on what is important and when all the work is done, we can argue about who has the better doctrine.

Back to gaming, Christianity is a PvE game, not PvP. Our battle is not "against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Let's stop the PvP. PvE is challenging enough. And I have never been good at PvP.
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