In life we have many hard choices to make. Paper or plastic? Coke or Pepsi? Target or Wal-Mart? Taco Bell or an evening without diarrhea? (That last one was a trick question. The answer is clearly to enjoy your beef supreme chalupa from Taco Bell and accept the consequences of your actions.) And in our video games we often face a similar predicament, as most of our shooter options fall into one of two camps… First-person shooters such as Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield, and third-person shooters like Gears of War, Ghost Recon, and The Division. Which one is better? I suppose it is all a matter of “perspective” (yes, that was an intentionally bad pun. And I stand behind it.)
Many gamers prefer the immersion of a first-person view, stripping away everything but your hands and whatever weapons or items you are holding. You truly feel as if you are inhabiting your character, seeing the world around you through their eyes. Titles such as Gears of War espouse the third-person viewpoint, giving you a larger view of the battlefield around you and clarity as to whether or not you are truly protected by the cover you have chosen to hide behind. But this perspective unfortunately removes you from “being” the character and makes it obvious that you are merely observing their story rather than fully experiencing it.
If you had to name ‘THE” defining characteristic in the Gears of War franchise, there are at least two or three that jump immediately to mind. It could be the physically larger-than-life characters that look like they took the exact same “vitamins” Hulk Hogan was taking back in the 80’s to achieve that completely natural physique. Or maybe its the epic chainsaw guns that are PERFECTLY designed for cutting through gigantic, unwelcome bugs that still have not been effectively replicated in another franchise. But from day one, the one thing that always made this franchise stand out from all the other “shooters” out there was the “stop and pop” cover mechanics that is only truly possible from the third-person point of view.
In our video games most developers make the choice between third and first-person view for us, leaving us with little to determine other than which titles we prefer to play. But in our every day lives, we make the decision as to which perspective we choose to embrace in our relationship with our Creator. Perhaps that transition seems a little odd… let me explain.
When we make the choice to commit ourselves to God, it is a life-long commitment. But often times we choose between a first-person or third-person relationship with the Father based on our specific needs or desires at that juncture in our life. God wants a direct relationship with each of us… nobody else in between, no complicated doctrine separating us from Him, just one-on-one intimacy. But many times, either due to misunderstanding or personal discomfort, we place our pastor, our parents, our spouse, or our religious doctrine in between us and God, placing us into a third-person relationship with Him.
We ask our pastor to tell us what God has to say instead of reading the Bible to find out for ourselves. We expect our parental figures to demonstrate the perfect relationship with our Maker, or we allow our spouse to do all of the praying and heavy-lifting when it comes to the things of God, as if we are in some kind of a package deal. And most often, we make the mistake of defining our standing with God based on our adherence to doctrines, rules, and performance and completely miss the point of all of these commandments… to remove any obstacles that could damage our intimate relationship with Him.
This is nothing new of course… this idea has it’s roots all the way back to the beginnings of humanity’s interactions with God. And it is spelled out quite clearly in the book of Deuteronomy, as Moses recaps the mistakes of the people of Israel with specific emphasis on their decision to choose to have a disconnected relationship with the Lord.
Deuteronomy 5:23-27 So it was, when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, that you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. And you said: ‘Surely the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives. Now therefore, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? You go near and hear all that the Lord our God may say, and tell us all that the Lord our God says to you, and we will hear and do it.’
I hope you caught that. The people didn’t want a direct, first-person relationship with God… they wanted MOSES to act as a “go-between”, keeping them one step removed from directly interacting with their God. They wanted to keep the blessings of God in their life and benefit from His guidance and provision… they just didn’t want the responsibility and the pressure of dealing with Him one on one. And this decision to keep God at arms-length would have disastrous repercussions, as none of the adults (with the exception of two) who were present at this point would end up entering the Promised Land. Not because God was punishing them or judging them for this one particular choice, but because their choice to serve God from a third-person perspective kept Him from being a truly integral part of their lives. And as a result, they were easily shifted away from Him when their third-person view kept their eyes on the obstacles in the environment rather than focused solely on Him.
In our lives, it is easy to either intentionally or accidentally find ourselves shifting from a first-person to a third-person relationship with God throughout our lives based on how convenient or accessible we want Him to be at that moment. Need a job? First-person prayers are getting sent up immediately. Health concerns? We are looking at Him eye to eye. But when everything is going well, or maybe when we don’t feel we want or need His input on a decision, we shift very quickly into seeing our relationship with Him as if it is something we are observing rather than a relationship we are inhabiting.
So what is the solution? How do we avoid the third-person conundrum? It’s as simple, AND as difficult, as choosing to do what Moses did. Rather than follow the crowd and keep His God at arms-length, he made the first-person choice…
Exodus 33:11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
And we can do the same… by responding as Moses did and choosing to speak to God as a FRIEND… a partner… and understanding that He is more than simply a GPS in the wilderness and a provider of the morning meal. He isn’t just there for answers to prayers… He is who we share the journey with, step by step, day by day. He wants us to live WITH Him, not just FOR Him. Moses understood this in a way that few people have… He didn’t come to God when he NEEDED God… he simply came to God each and every day to converse and commune with Him without an agenda. He didn’t live vicariously through other’s relationships with God… He chose to live his life in first-person view with the Lord. And when we choose to get out from behind the cover of our third-person view and embrace a one-on-one, personal, intimate, daily relationship with the One who loves our souls we can enjoy the position of being a “friend” of His as well!
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