It…. Has… ARRIVED. And with all of the publishing delays we are seeing on title after title this year, it is refreshing to see the Final Fantasy VII remake launch successfully to the delight of both new and original fans alike. But the question we are here to answer is whether or not it is a worthy remake of this classic masterpiece. This game certainly takes some liberties with the source material, and some of these changes are quite literally “game-changing”. We will steer far clear of any new spoiler territory in this article, but suffice to say if you THOUGHT you knew where this story is going, you are in for some SIGNIFICANT surprises. You have been warned…
If you never played the original release or simply aren’t sure what all the fuss is about, let’s correct that quickly. This was the DEFINING role-playing game for a generation of gamers… epic in scope, universal in appeal, and with a massive variety of unique characters to integrate into your party. It may not have all of the modern innovations of characters with voices or a real time battle system, but with this new remake all of that changes. Gone are the quaint, sprite-based characters with their “Popeye” arms, blocky faces, and jagged hair… these have all been replaced by photo-realistic characters in dynamic lighting who can actually TALK. The futuristic city of Midgar looks even better than they way we imagined it back in the day, and with this new coat of paint it seems like EVERYONE wins here.
I could not be more excited to see all of the upgrades to the visuals, the sound, and the enhancements to the battle system. But beyond that, Square Enix has fully fleshed out the city of Midgar by taking about the first five hours of the original game and expanding it into approximately forty or fifty hours of new and fresh content. While this gives more texture to previously minor characters and allows us to get to know our favorites even better, this has given the writers an opportunity to make some significant changes to the story in ways that may alter the entire dynamic of this narrative. I absolutely won’t spoil anything here, but after seeing some of the creative decisions that have already been made in this first segment of the FFVII saga, I am curious if some of the future chapters will diverge even more from the original story that many of us already know and love.
This is always the challenge when remaking or remastering a classic… there is such a massive temptation to go back and change parts that you imagined unfolding differently and simply smooth out old wrinkles that did not age well and erase what may have been perceived as mistakes. A chance to wipe out old problems, start with a clean slate, and maybe take some creative liberties to generate a narrative that fits the way you wish it had always been. Eliminate characters that you didn’t like, give more screen time to some fan favorites, and rewrite history to fit this new version of the original, slightly flawed vision. And while this can make for some exciting narrative departures that makes playing through these old stories much more exciting, the reality is that many of us take the exact same approach in our real-world lives and we may not even be aware of it. You may not see this yet, but give me a few minutes and I will show you exactly what I mean.
As we grow through each phase of life, we experience changes that give us the ability to remake/remaster ourselves. We move to a new city, start a new school, take on a new job, start and end relationships, get married, divorced, and so on. And each time we experience a significant life change this provides an opportunity for some “re-invention” of who we previously were. A chance to run away from dumb choices we have made, escape from the horrors and pain we have experienced, and cover up the physical, emotional, and spiritual scars that these experiences have written across every inch of our bodies. And this temptation to hide who we have been, cover up what we once were, and pull the sleeves down over our scarred arms is a critical mistake that we must avoid at all costs.
Have you truly considered the reality that we serve a Savior who remains in an INTENTIONALLY SCARRED state? Think about that for a minute. Jesus Christ was crucified, killed, and buried in a tomb with massive scars in his hands, feet, and side. When He returned to life He came back in a new, glorified body that could disappear (Luke 24:31), reappear (Luke 24:36), eat (Luke 24:41-43), and even disguise Himself as He saw fit (Luke 24:13-16). He could have come back without a single scar if He wanted to… He CHOSE to keep His scars. And if you are wondering why, He made that abundantly clear when He met with Thomas after His resurrection…
John 20:24-29 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus kept his scars so He could change unbelieving eyes into believing hearts. He kept His scars because they are not only proof of where He has been, but what He has OVERCOME. Now I want to make a very direct comparison to each of us here. Whether the scars you carry are physically written on your flesh or deeply ingrained in your psyche, they are not something to be ashamed of. They are to be worn and even SHOWED OFF to guide others to the saving knowledge of Christ. We were not called to hide our scars, but to use them to reach others. Our testimony is not one of shame, regardless of the life we once lived… it is actually how we overcome the enemy.
Revelation 12:10-11 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
Ponder that for a moment… the only weapons that can take down the evil that the devil has planned for each of us is the blood of our murdered Savior and our personal testimony of how He saved us. Jesus’s blood did NOT save us when it was safely flowing through his veins… it saved us when His body was broken and His blood was spilled out, creating the scars that He still proudly wears to this day. Similarly, our story cannot save ANYONE if we choose to scrub it down, sanitize it, and keep it nice and safe inside our bodies. It only has relevance when it flows out of our wounds, our damaged places, and our victory is shown off through our scars.
Our scars are NOT an indictment of who we were… they are a trophy of what we have overcome. Perfection has never saved ANYONE. Think about it… Jesus’s perfect life that He lived on earth did NOT save us. If it could have, He would have never gone to the cross. His perfect life wouldn’t have saved anyone but HIM. It was through His traumatic, scarring death through crucifixion and his dramatic resurrection that we can be saved… those things that left Him scarred but VICTORIOUS. And He is now proudly wearing the scars of a beaten, bruised, broken, and damaged body at the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:19).
The Christian life is not the absence of struggle, but the scarred evidence of painful, powerful victories earned in blood, sweat, tears, and prayers. The life we have lived is not a cautionary tale to be left in the past, hidden from sight, and rewritten to suit a better narrative. It is our TESTIMONY, and these scars are proof of our Savior lifting us above our flaws, out of our sins, and carrying us through the storm to the other side. Jesus does not hide His scars… why would we hide ours?
I pray that this emboldens every soul who reads these words to recognize the power that we have been given in our scars to bring others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It does not matter if we have struggled with or been victimized by suicide (Acts 16:27-33), demonic possession (Mark 5:1-5), adultery (John 8:1-11), divorce (John 4:1-29), abuse (Luke 9:37-42), stealing (Luke 19:1-10), or any other of the long list of sins and strongholds that can etch scars on our bodies, hearts, and souls… He has used and continues to use each and every one of these type of people to serve Him in His kingdom. I know this because I am one of these people, and so is every other believer in Christ that I know. Our struggle, our scars… our STORY is the testimony that the devil fears the most and allows us to use our pain to reach a world that desperately needs to hear from YOU. Not to glorify these horrible sins or bring attention to those we have harmed or those who have harmed us… but to demonstrate Christ’s power OVER each of these wounds.
The remaster of FFVII is beautiful, elegant, and almost completely perfect. But it is the original telling of this tale, in all of its pure, unadulterated, pixelated glory that changed the world of RPG’s as well as the lives of many gamers forever. It didn’t need to be perfect to become one of the greatest games of all time… it just needed to tell its story. And in much the same way, you might feel like your life’s story resembles a cartoon-ish, poorly rendered, incomplete and imperfect narrative that you would prefer to hide until your scars have disappeared and you are ready for a thorough inspection. But if Square Enix had waited until the technology was ready to deliver on their masterpiece, the landscape of gaming would be completely different than it is now. Many game developers who are actively producing games point to FFVII as the REASON they decided to make games themselves. Not because it was perfect, but because even in its imperfection it still inspired them. And you are a masterpiece of God just as you are right now… scars and all. And if you will allow Him, He will put those scars to use in growing His kingdom. After all, He’s got the whole world in His hands… His hands that REMAIN damaged and nail-scarred… the scars that saved each and every one of us.
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