If your “nerd radar” (or “nerd-ar”) hasn’t been sounding off this past week like an alarm klaxon on the bridge of the Enterprise during a red alert, then I am not sure you are tuned to the correct frequency. (Obviously… it’s 140.15. If you didn’t know that, you never played Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 and you should probably remedy that. It’s a required part of the curriculum. There will be a test on Monday.) This week the windows of nerd heaven opened up and pretty much EVERYTHING we could have asked for from Star Wars is not only going to happen, but it is ALREADY ON IT’S WAY. From new spinoffs from the beloved Mandalorian franchise, a well-deserved live action series for Ahsoka, the return of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader with both principle lead actors returning to their roles… we are in for a Star Wars bounty the likes of which we have honestly never seen. But with all of the mentions of upcoming animated series and live action shows, there was one thing noticeably missing… where are the games?
Now to be fair, this announcement was about SHOWS, not video games. But other than the fifteen billionth Lego Star Wars game that is still coming at some point in the future, we don’t really have any idea what the future holds for the interactive realm of media for Star Wars. And a large part of the problem is the simple fact that Star Wars video games have been a mixed bag, to put it gently. Sure, the Battlefront series has been fairly consistent if slightly uninspired, but for every solid title such as Knights of the Old Republic, Rogue Squadron, or Jedi Fallen Order, we have also had to endure some rough waters. Don’t know what I’m referring to? Let’s take a walk down memory lane…
The early days of Star Wars games were pretty much the same licensed drivel that almost every other franchise was known for. The titles that were released for the NES and SNES weren’t necessarily awful… they just weren’t anything to get excited about and stuck to the already developed characters and storylines from the movies. But then the Star Wars gaming universe gets murkier than a swamp in Dagobah, as the franchise becomes known for some of the classic adventures in the gaming space… and some of the shovelware that would have been better off remaining buried. Games like the Jedi Academy series, Republic Commando, and even Force Unleashed attempted to build on the existing canon with fresh adventures that added new characters as well as depth to existing ones. But then we have poorly thought out cash-ins such as the impossible to enjoy Clone Wars, the mindless Jedi Power Battles, the disappointment of Bounty Hunter, and the sour crème de la crème… Masters of Teras Kasi.
How do you mess up a game that should have been AMAZING? And most importantly, how do you butcher it SO much that the concept is never even tried again? Well, here is the secret formula… take many of the characters we all know and love, mix it in a bowl with a one-on-one fighting game, sprinkle two teaspoons of hand-to-hand combat and LIGHTSABERS… and then make everything about the game so incredibly broken and awful that playing the game requires SIX controllers. No, not because the game requires them… because you will NEED that many after you will smash all of the rest in frustration. The game basically ignores your inputs and just kind of does what it wants to, which might work in a Sims game, but not so much in a fighting game. Do yourself a favor… DON’T track it down. You have been warned. Play something safer like Jumanji instead.
From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, the Star Wars gaming franchise has seen it all. It is a complicated legacy full of several titles that belong in the gaming hall of fame, a few poorly executed ideas that should have been great, and several gaming abominations that were doomed from the start. And many times, my life feels the same way. Sparks of greatness on occasion, a few well-meaning disasters that came from the right place, and a handful of truly dark and inexcusable paths I have walked that make for a challenging legacy of my own. But before I disqualify myself from finishing this article, I have a rugged, slightly worn old rock I would like to show you.
This particular rock has been through its share of storms. As a matter of fact, during one of those storms this rock found a brief amount of courage and tried to skip across the water. It almost succeeded… until it saw the wind and the water and remembered it was just a rock… then it sunk (Matthew 14:22-33).
This “rock” was also a highly intelligent rock. Wise beyond it’s years… or so it thought. This rock even tried to correct the Son of God in the middle of a sermon once because He had misinterpreted His own prophecies. It didn’t work out too well… but it seemed like a good idea at the time (Mark 8:31-33).
This “rock” wasn’t necessarily the biggest rock, but it KNEW it was definitely the strongest. And it let everyone else know it too… until one day it realized it had underestimated the pressure and was reduced to the dust it truly was on the inside (Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75). You MAY have figured out who I am referencing here, but let’s make it official…
Matthew 16:17-18 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Simon Bar-Jonah, who is more commonly known as Simon Peter, has about as complicated of a legacy of anyone who has ever followed Christ. Jesus Himself called him “Peter”, which is from “Petros”, the Greek word for stone, boulder, or rock. This “rock” had some pretty severe weathering on him though… multiple times he exhibited some of the worst characteristics of mankind… pride, boasting, envy, faithlessness, lying, cursing… and that’s just the ones that we KNOW. And the toughest part of accepting these flaws is that Peter not only KNEW Jesus but was ACTIVELY FOLLOWING Him when each one of these flaws revealed themselves. A complicated legacy indeed for the apostle who preached some of the most famous and critical sermons ever recorded just WEEKS after some of these “rocky” indiscretions.
Peter may have been LITERALLY named “the rock”, but his behavior did not always consistently demonstrate this characteristic before or even AFTER Christ became his foundation. Now you might say, “All of those mistakes were BEFORE Christ rose from the dead. Peter was a shining example of apostleship from that day forward, once the Holy Spirit was in him to keep Peter on the path.” I am glad you brought that up, because I have one of those “In case of emergency, break glass” Scriptures riiiiiiiight here… in an epic confrontation between the Apostles Peter and Paul in ApostleMania I…
Galatians 2:11-14 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I (Paul) withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
Oh snacks… did I read that right? Simon Peter, anchor of the church, foundational apostle, elite friend of Jesus, Peter “the rock”… he fell victim to not only peer pressure but HYPOCRISY and got called out by Paul in front of EVERYONE? Say it ain’t so Paul! Peter was WELL into his pastoral ministry, filled with the Spirit of God, doing miracles… and he STILL messed up. And not only did he fail, but he led many others down the wrong path temporarily until Paul put a stop to their error. So here is the brutal, obvious, but still misunderstood truth… much like Peter we ALL have a complicated legacy as new creations in Christ.
Some of us may feel like we compromised our mission before we got started, and others may feel that their mistakes DURING their journey have disqualified them… but here is the reality. We were ALL disqualified before we even got started running this race (Romans 3:23), and as Peter painfully found out neither knowing Christ, experiencing Christ, following Christ, nor even living in active service to Christ makes us immune to our rocky human nature. So what do we do when we have messed up? Do we stop? Give up? Hide ourselves under a rock? Well… why don’t we let ol’ Rocky himself (Peter) tell us what he thinks…
1 Peter 2:5 You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
According to Peter we are ALL stones… LIVING stones to be exact. Stones that are in the PROCESS of being built up into a spiritual house. This is not some “one and done” decision that requires no further action on our parts, just add holy water and PRESTO… no, it is a lifelong journey. Now, this does not excuse poor decisions or bad behavior. As we saw with Peter, our sins not only affect us but ALL of those who we interact with. So let’s look at one last verse and I think we will be ready to blow this Death Star up and head home…
Romans 6:12-13 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
THERE we go… did you see it? I hope so. In our last verse Peter called us LIVING stones, and here in Romans we see what that means. We were previously dead stones… lifeless, inert, and stuck right where we were dropped. But this verse is telling us to present ourselves as not merely living stones, but as DEAD stones who are now ALIVE, a critical distinction. If rocks and stones were ALWAYS alive, then not only would this illustration make no sense, but the world would be a very strange and perhaps much more dangerous place. But because every rock or stone I have ever met is NOT alive, it is no longer a liability but instead becomes something suitable for use in tasks such as building roads, walls, and homes.
As living stones, at any point in which we retake control of our lives from the hands of the Builder we unfortunately become a liability to ourselves, our friends, our families, non-believers, and even other believers in Christ. And those selfish decisions can cause real and permanent damage to those homes that are being built. I am sure none of us would appreciate any parts of our current homes suddenly becoming alive and deciding they wanted to do their own thing. It would be pretty destructive to say the least. But BECAUSE we are living stones we get to CHOOSE to be part of this spiritual house that is being built… by yielding ourselves, our desires, and control of our lives to the Master Builder.
Star Wars has some pretty nasty gaming skeletons in its closet, but I STILL want to see Knights of the Old Republic 3… or at least a remaster of the original adventures. And honestly, as bad as Bounty Hunter truly was, I really would love to see a fully realized version of this game played out with a few of our new favorite Mandalorians, especially with the technology that is available now. It would be unfortunate if we never got another Star Wars game again simply because some of them were no good. Similarly, you and I are living stones being built into ONE spiritual house, and unfortunately my sins and failures affect you just as yours affect me. But this does NOT mean we stop building. We have our most important roles ahead of us.
None of us has a perfect legacy, but the Lord knew we wouldn’t… just as Jesus knew Peter was still less than solid when Christ called him a “rock” way back in Matthew. Peter’s sins were still in his past, present, AND future… but he wasn’t chosen because of his perfect legacy. He was chosen because even as a flawed stone, Peter still recognized that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and he would spend the rest of his life following the Lord. Did he fail after that choice? Absolutely. But as a living stone, he placed himself back into the Builder’s hands and allowed the Lord to use him as the load bearing stone he had been designed to be. Our legacy may not be what we want, but we can’t change that no matter how much we wish we could. But as Peter tells us, we can STILL present ourselves to the Lord as living stones to be used according to His purposes exactly as we are. There is still a house being built and I need you as much as you need me. I don’t know where the materials came from that built the building I am sitting in right now… honestly I don’t really care. I only care that they are committed to being part of the building now. Wherever you have been, whatever rocky road you once were on… we are now being used to build His Kingdom. Join me as we build this home on the solid rock of Jesus Christ… the ONLY perfect stone in this whole building.
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