The PlayStation “X” button controversy: Why a Name Matters (Acts 4:9-12)

Well, congratulations humanity.  We have done it.  We have found a way to inject controversy into one of the oddest possible places on the planet, the proper name of the ‘X” button on the PlayStation controller.  If you are a somewhat normal person, you probably didn’t even know that this problem just happened.  But in a debate nobody even knew existed, Sony finally ended the discussion (that had never actually been started by anyone) and formally announced that the “X” button is actually called the “cross” button, not “X” as most of us have been calling it all these years.  Mind… BLOWN.  All this time, over all of the consoles we have owned and played… PS1, PS2, PSP, PS3, Vita, PS4…. we have all been saying it WRONG and had no idea.  And now, somehow, we all have to pick up the pieces of a world that exists differently than it just did moments ago.  I feel like this is the Avengers Infinity War “SNAP” all over again… only this time everyone is still here and it is our video game controllers that have changed.  PS4 controller, I feel like I don’t even know who you ARE anymore.

61KtkywXdqL._SL1500_-1814 Maybe I am laying it on a little thick, but it is definitely amusing to consider that this button has been called the wrong thing for decades and nobody corrected us on it until now.  I remember when I first started adapting to the PS1 controller many years ago and had a massive amount of difficulty with how the buttons were mapped on the controller for certain games, because most would map the “confirm” or “action” button to the “X” spot and the “O” button would most often act as a secondary button or move you backwards in the menu.  That all changed one day when I walked up to a PlayStation interactive in a retail store and decided to try this really cool looking new game that was being demoed inside… Metal Gear Solid.

metal-gear-solid-1It may not look like much now, but it was positively amazing at the time.  And as a massive gamer, I was eager to try this game out regardless of who was watching.  That would prove to be an unwise decision.  I struggled to even start the game because in this title pressing “X” would send you back to the main menu, and only the “O” button would confirm your selection.  But once I moved past that minor issue I was certain I was about to put my mad gaming skills on display for all to see.  Multiple people were watching the screen to see what I did as well as plan for their turn on the interactive, and I was determined not to disappoint them.

maxresdefaultAt the beginning of the first level I had my first opportunity to engage in combat.  Time to show off the SKILLZ.  Guards were patrolling the area and in order to successfully pass them I would need to sneak up behind them, knock them unconscious, and move their body out of the patrol routes.  Should be a cake walk.  (I think whoever made up that saying has never actually walked across a number of cakes in succession before.  It’s actually quite complicated.  AND a waste of perfectly good cake.)  But because I have been accustomed to pressing “X” for action in most of the games I had played previously, my instincts took over and I did the same here as soon as I walked up behind my enemy.  I snuck up behind him, pressed “X”… and began crawling on the ground right in front of him.  He was quite unimpressed.  Startled… upset… but definitely not knocked unconscious.  And he began letting me know that with his weapon right away.

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In my panic I continued to try to attack him as the noise was attracting other guards.   But I kept hitting the wrong button and instead of grabbing him with the “O” button I kept alternating between kneeling, crawling, and standing as I pressed the “X” button over, and over, and OVER.  At this point those who were watching my pathetic attempts at combat made some very pointed observations about how my current method of dispatching this enemy was woefully unsuccessful.  Apparently, crawling someone to death is not an effective strategy.  It’s been many moons since then, but I seem to recall that these remarks were quite direct and unhelpful.  I am sure you can imagine some of them.  As I heard the mournful cry of “SNAAaaaaaakkkeee!!!” during my character’s demise, it struck me that perhaps I had been pushing the wrong button.

wzun9qn7s1e21  While this experience was a short-lived embarrassment, I would eventually go on to purchase the game, master it, and to this day it remains one of my top five all time favorite titles.  But with this new “controversy” regarding the name of the “X” button on a PS controller, it occurs to me that in our real world many of us may make a similar, but much more critical, error in our approach to God.  I have heard many people say they believe in God, that they serve God, and even that they “love” God.  But when pressed for their beliefs on Jesus Christ, things suddenly get awkward.

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It is fairly easy to believe that there is a Divine Being who created all that we see, because there simply is no other reasonable, scientific explanation for the universe existing (we can debunk the unscientific “faith” of evolution at a later time that completely ignores the basic scientific laws of cause and effect and chooses to promote an effect without a cause as “science”).  And when we are truly looking closely, we can see evidence of the Architect in all of the living things that surround us.  Whether it is in the intricate details of a flower, the incredible conception and growth of an embryo into a baby, or the vast expanse of a galaxy that we can’t even begin to explore… it is simple and moderately common for people to believe that there is a God of some kind who is responsible for all of this.

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What is MORE difficult is choosing to believe that this Creator sent His Son to this earth to live, die, and be resurrected.  That sentence alone can create a lot of discomfort.  Many people will say they believe in God, actors will thank God while winning an award, athletes will point towards heaven and exclaim that “God” was with them when they scored that last touchdown… and there is nothing wrong with any of those things.  But if we fail to actually read what God has said about Jesus, we are asking to be saved by the wrong name.

In the book of Acts we see this principle in play.  Shortly after Jesus’s death and resurrection, Peter and John, two of His disciples, were arrested for performing a miracle.  That sounds absurd, but the problem was not the miracle they did, but the NAME they performed it under.  The Jews who arrested them had no problem with miracles being done in the name of God… but as soon as Jesus was brought into things it became a pretty big issue.

Acts 4:9-12 “If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

There really isn’t a lot of negotiating room in that statement, is there?  Pretty direct.  And just in case we are discounting the words of Peter and John, we have a couple of other pretty critical witnesses who make a very similar statement.  First, from the mouth of Jesus Himself…

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

And finally, the Apostle Paul drills the point home in his letter to Timothy…

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus

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What you choose to believe about Jesus MATTERS.  It is clear in these three Scriptures that simply believing in “God” does not gain any of us entry into heaven.  Jesus is our mediator… He is the bridge that we “Cross” to gain access to the Father.  Believing in Him, His purpose for coming to earth, and what He has done to free us from sin is not something we do for “extra credit”… it is the whole course.  Accepting Him as the way to heaven is a prerequisite for entry.  And those who have not made this decision but still believe in “God”  have missed the entire point of the Gospel.

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I know this was a heavy topic.  What we choose to call our buttons on our controllers is  humorously divisive and treated with tongue fully in cheek.  But it is much more serious that we share the understanding with others that belief in “God” is NOT synonymous with choosing Jesus Christ as our means of salvation.  In this area of our lives, the name TRULY does matter.  If you have friends or loved ones who profess belief in God but lack the connection to Jesus Christ, I hope these verses help you with showing them “The Way”.  In this game of life, there is no “X” that marks the spot on how to get to heaven.  There is only a CROSS.

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