We have all observed it so many times… that game in a series that inevitably lets ALL of the fans of a beloved franchise down. Mass Effect was a beloved trilogy of games that captured the hearts and imaginations of gamers worldwide… then Mass Effect Andromeda came in and completely pooped the bed. I think it even got on the COUCH. Fallout was riding a high of acclaimed release after release, until the broken mess that was Fallout 76 completely soured even the most ardent fan from adventuring in the desolate wasteland sandbox it presented. While even the best franchise can have a critical misstep or two (Metal Gear Solid 2 was just… it was just WEIRD), these epically unloved offspring from well-known franchises such as these carry a burden that can sometimes be a little less than fair. Let me explain.
Let’s take Mass Effect Andromeda as our first example. Sure, there were some very unfortunate and comical animation issues that made some already less than stellar characters even less engaging, but I am going to be honest. If this game had NOTHING to do with Mass Effect and was not released by an acclaimed developer such as Bioware, it would not have received anywhere NEAR the backlash that was heaped upon it. There were such impossibly high hopes for it to live up to that a letdown was inevitable, and when it came out of the oven half-baked it was savagely torn apart, meaning it is unlikely we will ever see a conclusion to the cliffhanger ending it presented. And this is only one example… many games that we have shrugged off as unworthy successors and “bad games” would have likely had a much more forgiving reception if it was the maiden voyage of a brand new studio.
Being honest… if some random studio made a game that was simply called “Andromeda”, and it was a stand-alone sci-fi adventure we would have all praised it for presenting solid gameplay and an expansive universe to explore, while acknowledging the flaws as opportunities to improve upon. As a matter of fact this HAPPENED… the game was called “No Man’s Sky”. It wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t deliver on all of it’s lofty promises, but it was given a much wider berth to find itself in the marketplace. What was the difference? No Man’s Sky was the first major game release for developer “Hello Games”, and even though we didn’t get a fully realized version of the game until a few months ago this title was still played, appreciated, and accepted. The burden to carry a franchise wasn’t present, so it was widely understood that this new studio would experience some growing pains while attempting to unleash their vision to the world. As a result, No Man’s Sky is currently being sold at a fair retail price of $29.99… and Mass Effect Andromeda sits in the litter box of gaming retailers and can be found for $4.99 or less quite easily.
It can be hard enough to live up to a legacy that you did not personally choose and were “born” into, and when the world around us expects us to successfully fill the shoes of inherited expectations, that just adds to the pressure. There is an exceptionally relatable Biblical figure that you may or may not be familiar with who experienced this EXACT dilemma, and honestly… he fell into the trap that many of us do. This guy ABSOLUTELY had the whole franchise on his shoulders… and he didn’t just poop the bed when it was his time to shine. He ordered an entire dump truck full of manure and delivered that directly into his bedroom… and then reversed the sewage lines into the home for good measure. His name is Rehoboam, and while that may not ring a bell for you, his inherited legacy certainly will. His grandfather? Just a simple, quiet shepherd boy named King DAVID. His daddy? Oh, you know… some guy who happened to be the wisest, richest, most powerful king who has ever lived… King SOLOMON. Two of the most iconic figures in Biblical history as his father and grand-father… the royal lineage of the throne… and don’t forget this also happens to be the eventual line that leads to the Savior of the human race, Jesus Christ Himself. That’s a LOT of expectations to be born into… let’s see how Rehoboam handled it.
1 Kings 12:3-5 Then Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” So he said to them, “Depart for three days, then come back to me.” And the people departed.
So here we have Rehoboam, the new king of Israel, tasked with handling his first major speech to the people. Solomon was a tough act to follow, an it would take a strong leader to keep the people together after his death. Clearly, Rehoboam didn’t inherit the wisdom of his father, so he did what most of us do when we are in over our heads. He looked for advice.
1 Kings 12:6-7 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”
Looks like pretty good advice… and these guys had SERVED King Solomon, they had read the room, and they had a pretty good grip on the situation. Will Rehoboam follow the wisdom of these veteran counselors? You might want to get your shovels ready, because I hear the beeping sound of a dump truck backing up and heading towards the bed…
1 Kings 12:8-14 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?” Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’ ” So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had directed, saying, “Come back to me the third day.” Then the king answered the people roughly, and rejected the advice which the elders had given him; and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!”
So… yeah. That happened. And the reaction was NOT great. I’m not sure what he was expecting, but I think we can all agree that as opening speeches go, that one was HORRIBLE. But before we start judging Rehoboam, we MAY want to look in the mirror first. I know that there are MANY times in my life that instead of turning to God in prayer or opening up my Bible, I jumped into a text message thread or a phone call with a friend to ask what THEY thought about my situation. And once I received enough opinions to validate my terrible ideas, more often than not I have acted on those impulses instead of availing myself of the wisdom of the Eternal. It’s not my friend’s fault. They are probably just trying to be supportive and doing the best they can to provide advice based on their limited view of my situation… information that they received from me that was probably already skewed by my perspective in the first place. Rehoboam fell into the exact same trap that ALL of us have at some point or another… and he paid a heavy price for it. The kingdom was split in two, with ten of the tribes of Israel following Jeroboam and only TWO tribes remaining loyal to the Davidic line and sticking with Rehoboam as their king. Tough first day on the job.
Can you relate to this level of bed poopery? Maybe not with these high of stakes, but if we are being honest with ourselves I am confident we have ALL been there. A combination of high expectations, a lack of preparation, and allowing the wrong voices into our heads all combine into one massive mistake that is NOT going to wash out of these sheets despite our best efforts and all of the Oxi-Clean detergent in the world. The question is not IF we have experienced this, it is WHAT do we do once we have done this. As believers in Christ, we have the LARGEST sandals to fill on this planet. We are LITERALLY naming ourselves as followers of the one and only Jesus Christ, and there are some massive expectations that go with that. Everyone we interact with is watching us through these glass walls to see if we live up to that pedigree, and when we fail it doesn’t just damage our testimony, but it can stain their perspective of Christ Himself.
What do we do? We are still flawed humans who will still make mistakes, and as we saw with Rehoboam those mistakes can be QUITE costly and have massive long term ramifications. The answer to this dilemma does not lie with living a PERFECT life, because even the best of us will fail at that challenge. The answer lies in being transparent about what living our life in service to Christ actually means, including the reality of being in a PROCESS of being perfected… a process that will last until our final breath. As we see from Paul in his letter to the believers in Philippi…
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
I hope you caught that… He has BEGUN a good work in us, and it is still in the PROCESS of completion. We are perfected in His eyes because of the price Christ paid on the cross, but until the day of Christ’s return this work will CONTINUE to be completed on this earth. We are followers of Christ, but we are still potty-training. It’s a messy process, and bed sheets are going to pay a terrible price on more occasions than we want to admit. But those issues become a lot less common when we stop listening to ourselves, our own desires, and the validating opinions of well-meaning friends and turn to the wisdom of the Omniscient God who has all the answers. As we see in James, He has PROMISED to answer us…
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
How does He answer us? Through His provided Word, through prayer, and the wisdom of those who have walked this path before us. The truth about Rehoboam is he was absolutely in over his head and had a very challenging “franchise tag” to live up to. But if Rehoboam had taken those three days to seek out God, pray, review the Scriptures that were present at that time, and listened to the wise counselors who had the advantage of perspective, he would not have lost the kingdom. As a matter of fact, the “No Man’s Sky” version of a king of Israel happened a few generations later by following this exact same principle…
2 Chronicles 34:1-3 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images.
Josiah was only EIGHT when he became king… but that did not deter him from living up to the position that Rehoboam did not. He started seeking God at the age of sixteen, and by the age of twenty he started undoing the decades of idolatrous damage his predecessors had permitted and encouraged. This young king came from the same lineage, but at this point it was flawed. His grandfather was a wicked king who only turned to the Lord once he was almost overrun. His father was an even WORSE king who was so evil his people assassinated him. At the tender age of eight, Josiah had a pretty rough path ahead of him, even without all of the expectations. But by letting the Lord guide his path and turning himself completely to His ways, Josiah received this pretty lofty commendation…
2 Kings 23:25 Before him (Josiah) there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.
Whether the expectations that were thrust upon us were high, like the case of Rehoboam, or exceptionally low as we saw with Josiah, the path forward remains the same. If we choose to place the Lord FIRST in our lives as the FIRST One we go to when we have a problem, a challenge, or a question, we will live up to the challenging legacy of being a representative of Christ… a beacon to those who will never experience Him without our witness. It doesn’t mean we wont make mistakes, and as a believer those sins and poor choices can have larger ramifications simply because of the Name we are representing. But we cannot stop our journey and cease serving Christ simply because our flawed nature revealed itself and we failed to control it. Yes, we have big shoes to fill… but those shoes were never meant for us to walk in ALONE. When He gave us the “Great Commission” found in Matthew, He promised one VERY important thing… a promise that is part of the mission because we couldn’t FULFILL it otherwise. He is WITH us… ALWAYS… until the end of days. He is there to HELP us walk this mission… all we have to do is seek Him, listen to Him, and let Him lead the way.
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