Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and “Fine Print” Repercussions (Joshua 9)

Well… that turned sideways REALLY quickly.  Looks like the happy sound of “Kumbaya” playing over at the campfire Activision built was pretty short-lived.  Right about the time Xbox owners had placed a marshmallow on their stick and held it over the flames it started to rain some bad news… that sweet, sweet cross-play on Call of Duty that we are all about to enjoy together comes at a small cost.  The funny part is how it was all revealed so innocently, buried deep within Sony’s “State of Play” announcements this week.  We were all salivating over the exciting news on the release date for Last of Us 2, the new Death Stranding console, and fun tidbits on many other upcoming titles.   So much good news, so many exciting details, a few delicious surprises… and then THIS,  This oh so itty, bitty, teeny, tiny, seemingly insignificant bit of text on the bottom of the screen changed EVERYTHING…

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What?  You can’t read that tiny print WAAAAAYYYY down at the bottom?  That sentence that is BARELY visible? Maybe this will help…

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That’s right… a whole mode of the game will be exclusive for PlayStation 4 owners… not for a month… not even just a few months… but for an ENTIRE YEAR.  I am pretty sure that is the smallest font legally permitted to provide bad news.  To be fair, we have seen previous exclusivity windows for maps or other small portions of a COD game before.  But this unwelcome bit of news just a few short weeks prior to launch was truly unexpected and the length of time on this content being exclusive is simply unprecedented.  And the way it was oh-so-casually snuck in to the announcement trailer added the arsenic-laced icing on the previously delicious cake.

Just a few short months ago we were all lavishing praise on Activision’s newest entry in the Call of Duty franchise for firing a major shot at lowering the cross-play walls between rival platforms.  The ability for PS4, XB1, and PC owners to all be able to play Call of Duty together regardless of their choice of platform produced the internet equivalent of a “ticker-tape parade” for a series that sorely needed the positive vibes.  This new announcement was the equivalent of seeing Darth Vader donate a huge sum of money to open a new Jedi padawan training center, and then intentionally run over some Jawas as he leaves the parking lot.  They took all of the support and goodwill that they had just built up and flushed it down the toilet.

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I have no insight on what Sony offered/paid for this exclusive window for the Spec Ops: Survival mode, but I doubt anyone on either the Sony or Activision side of the agreement anticipated the pure, unadulterated vitriol that this created for players on every platform.  While Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will still undoubtedly launch to massive sales numbers and critical acclaim, it is truly unfortunate that the news headlines are more fixated on this one area of the game than all of the advancements that this franchise is making in other areas.  All because of one small, simple, seemingly innocuous sentence at the bottom of an otherwise excellent trailer demonstrating that in this one little place, Activision seemingly sold a piece of it’s soul.

Sadly, I have been duped by this many times and it’s a good bet you have, too.  No, you probably didn’t develop a video game and then auction off a component of it to the highest bidder.  But if you are anything like me, you have failed to recognize the “fine print” in a deal you have made in some form or fashion and paid the price for it.  It could be a relationship, a business deal, a schooling choice, or any number of decisions we make on a day to day basis in which we simply don’t see all of the dirty details until we are in too deep.  And each and every time this has happened to me, it is because I trusted in my own “gut instincts”, knowledge, and understanding rather than leaning and waiting on God for His infinite wisdom in prayer.

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Think about the worst decision you have ever made… maybe one you are still paying the price for right now.  Maybe it was an impulsive decision you made with long-term repercussions you didn’t plan for, or it could be a dream you pursued that left you high and dry when it was all said and done.  Odds are that is ALSO a time when we did not reach out to God in prayer for His guidance as well as WAIT for His answer.  Like a bad time-share deal we fall victim to the presentation, the hype, and the pressure to make a decision before it is “too late”.   And without giving the Spirit of God the opportunity and time to provide us with His answer, we failed to recognize the subtext that will later condemn us to serving the devil that was residing in the details all along.

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In Joshua 9 we see a precedent for this type of fatally flawed thinking.  Joshua has just successfully led his first few military campaigns into the Promised Land of Israel, and his enemies were rightfully concerned.  Many of them decided to band together to face him down in a glorious last stand, but one wily group recognized that they had ZERO chance to defeat him in battle.  But what they lacked in strength they made up for in subterfuge…

Joshua 9:2-6 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”

The Gibeonite ambassadors gave all the right answers to Joshua’s questions, looked the part, played the part, and their deception paid off in spades.  Joshua and all of his advisors fell victim to the scam, failed to read the fine print, and most importantly FAILED TO CONSULT THE LORD.

Joshua 9:14-16 Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them. And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them.

Three days later, the ruse was revealed and Joshua and the people of Israel realized they had made a huge mistake.  God had promised to give them the ENTIRETY of the Promised Land with victories in all of their battles, but His rules for conquest were very simple.  No treaties, no deals, no mergers, no subjugation… they were told to absolutely conquer every square inch of land and leave no quarter for their enemies.  And now they were in league with the group that they were meant to overcome and defeat.

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From the very beginning, this is how the devil has always worked.  Starting with Adam and Eve in the garden, he seduced Eve with the big promise of becoming like God.  Of course, he did this without revealing the nearly invisible fine print… that this one momentary choice would alter the course of mankind forever.  He doesn’t always try to conquer us… he would rather convince us to make a deal.  He knows that a full court press will often lead us running right back to God in prayer, which is the last thing he wants.  Instead he uses our pride, our friends, and our family to convince us to listen to our collective wisdom to make a decision… one that we can only blame ourselves for when the dust settles.  He delights in that because then we will not only continue to live with that decision, but we will also choose to carry the blame and the regret for it for the remainder of our lives when it inevitably blows up in our face.

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Once he has us buried in the pain of our poor decisions, we will continue to live there and make even MORE bad choices from that place of pain and shame.   He delights in convincing us of the lie that we have placed ourselves “too far” outside of the will of God, and we must hopelessly pay the price for this for the remainder of our days on earth.  Then he can sit back and relax as we become a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.  He makes us too ashamed to even ask God for His help because we “did this to ourselves”.  But don’t you worry… no matter where our misguided choices in life have taken us I have some AMAZING news.

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God did not give up on Joshua and the people of Israel, despite their massive mistake.  As a matter of fact, He took the mess that they made and it was used to serve Him as well.   The people of Gibeon were spared as Joshua had promised, but they became servants of the tabernacle of God. Wood cutting, water carrying, and other laborious tasks became their inheritance and in the next chapter we find Joshua moving on to his next campaign without looking in his rear-view mirror anymore.

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If you are a human, you have made mistakes.  And every one of those poor decisions was due to our failure to allow God to lead us in His wisdom.  But we cannot continue to LIVE there.  We still have a land to possess, and if we humble ourselves and place our decisions in His hands He will get us back on track.  You do NOT have to pay for your sins for the rest of your life… JESUS paid for them all in FULL, not in an installment plan.  And if you will stop letting the fine print that ruined your life to restrict you, you will find that even the negative decisions you have made and the consequences they created can be used to serve Him as well!

This year’s Call of Duty can still shrug off their “fine print” debacle, deliver an excellent game experience, and overcome this setback. And I truly hope for all of our sakes that they do. But it is of eternal importance that YOU shrug off whatever fine print you have gotten yourself into and get back into the game. I want to encourage you today to forgive YOURSELF for the choices you have made without God leading the way, but most importantly to STOP holding yourself back because of them.  That fine print owns as much of your mind and body as you choose to allow it to.  But as soon as you lay your burdens down at the feet of Jesus, even those that you believe you deserve to carry, something amazing will happen. You will find that even those old burdens and that nasty fine print that you thought owned you will begin working for Him as well.

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