KOTOR 2: Finishing a Game with a Game-Breaking Bug? (Part 4: Smyrna/Rev. 2)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the buggiest of times. Mere days after receiving the exciting announcement that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 had finally made it’s way onto the Nintendo Switch, some pretty bad news followed. Well, I suppose “bad” is a matter of perspective. It is bad news if you planned on actually, you know… FINISHING the game. I suppose if you never planned on completing it, this would save you a lot of time. But for those of us who revere the KOTOR series and have been anticipating playing it, the inability to finish the story due to a game-breaking bug is fairly problematic. All across the gaming world, Star Wars fans raised their voices in unison to seek a solution to their problem… well, they mostly went on Twitter and Reddit and complained about it. And while the developer Aspyr has finally provided a temporary work-around via a cheat code, it is hard to understand how a game of this stature would make it onto virtual store shelves with such a massive and inescapable bug built into it that prevents players from progressing. Although to be fair, that sounds like a VERY Sith thing to do. Emperor Palpatine would be most pleased.

Nobody appreciates bugs in their games… few things pull us out of the joys and thrills of getting immersed into an incredible story like getting yanked back into the real world to try to troubleshoot technical problems. I mean, who would want to read a book and find that as you get near the ending MULTIPLE critical pages are missing, preventing you from ever knowing what happened? While the reasons for the existence of such game-breaking bugs are plentiful (human error, challenging working conditions, rushed launch dates, Cheeto fingers), the impact they all leave is remarkably similar… they make us want to stop playing the game. If we are one of the unfortunate souls who are stuck and can’t move forward, the long wait for a solution can be unbearable. And if we are one of the fortunate ones who either haven’t started the game yet or haven’t reached the game-breaking part yet, we may choose to never launch the game in the first place or at least quit while we are ahead. It is all too easy to decide to simply delete the game, discard the disc/cartridge, and completely disconnect from all of it. And this is a reality we all face in our non-KOTOR lives as well… game-breaking bugs that completely shut us down when we didn’t even do anything to cause them, driving us to a place of completely disconnecting from our original mission and choosing a different, less painful path.

We all face them at some point… unfair challenges in life that do more than merely impede our progress. They stop us cold in our tracks, robbing us of our hope, our joy, and our peace. While none of us appreciate facing the consequences of our own actions, in our most sincere thoughts we know that many of the problems that we face in life are the result of our own poor choices. But what about when they AREN’T? What about the times that we played by the rules, acted with pure and honorable intentions, did the right thing, and STILL faced a game-breaking bug that shut us down? When these times happen, that introspective look deep inside of ourselves and our motives doesn’t do us any good… we search and search through our emotions and actions to figure out what we could have done differently, we blame ourselves for events we couldn’t have possibly predicted or prevented, and in the end we still find ourselves stuck in the exact same place. No answers for what went wrong, no solution for how to get back on track, and most importantly no idea what to do next. In those moments, it is easy for us to want to simply “disconnect” from this unfair treatment and these unwelcome feelings. And fortunately, we are not alone when we find ourselves in these places of pain and persecution. Let’s take a deeper look.

Over the last few weeks, we have been taking a look at the messages that Christ gave to the churches in the book of Revelation… each one dealing with a different reason why that church was facing dangerous disconnection issues. If you missed those, feel free to jump into them before we proceed:

So far, every church we have taken a look at were responsible for their own disconnection issues… but Smyrna is a very different case. As a matter of fact, they hadn’t disconnected at ALL. This message was not a warning about what they had done, but about what was COMING… and they were about to face some game-breaking bugs that would threaten their connection to the Lord.

Revelation 2:8-11 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’

The church at Smyrna had done EVERYTHING right… and they were about to head straight into an undeserved game-breaking bug anyways. The message to the people was a warning… not because of anything they had done wrong, but because unavoidable persecution was coming from an enemy source. This wasn’t punishment or judgment… no mention of wrongdoing was ever mentioned. And this is a scenario I believe we can all relate to, more often than we would like to. Many times in our lives we can do everything right and STILL reach a place where the path forward is blocked… not because of mistakes we have made or as a result of our poor decisions, but simply because “the game” isn’t always fair. Just like in our Star Wars: KOTOR 2 experience, we patiently waited for the game to come out, dutifully purchased it upon it’s release, played it according to the rules, and still got STUCK. What gives?

To better understand the suffering we endure, we need to look to the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)… Jesus Himself. The only One who knew no sin was INTIMATELY acquainted with undeserved grief during His time on our planet…

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

What was the point of His suffering? There was no sin in His life, no evil in His heart, and He was here on a mercy mission of love (John 3:16-17). Well, the book of Hebrews reveals the answer to this question and unveils the secret behind the game-breaking bugs we face in life as well…

Hebrews 5:7-9 Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.

So… if I am reading this correctly, the purpose of Christ’s suffering was to learn “obedience”. And the end outcome of the obedience He learned was to become “perfected” so He could become the Author of our faith. This begs a simple question… why did the Son of God need to learn obedience? Why couldn’t He simply act as the “author of our faith” without enduring the pain? Much like our Star Wars: KOTOR 2 game-breaking bugs that lie deep within the game code, we will have to dig beneath the surface of these sentences to unlock the answers. Let’s start with the word “obedience”, which in the Greek is the word “hypakoḗ“:

hypakoḗ: from the root words akoúō, “to hear” and hypó, “beneath”) – i.e. obedience – literally, “submission to what is heard“, obedience as the response to someone speaking.

The suffering that Christ endured on the earth was not merely for our sake… it was for HIS. While that may be difficult to understand, the truth is that He LEARNED to submit Himself to what He heard from the Father THROUGH His obedience during these undeserved times of pain and trouble. And to what purpose? To become “perfected”, which in the Greek is the word teleiōtheis:

teleiōtheis: to consummate, reaching the end-stage, i.e. working through the entire process (stages) to reach the final phase (conclusion). 

Contains the root word “tel”, which means “reaching the end (aim).” It is best illustrated with the image of a telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength.

As hard as it is to accept at the time, the trials we are enduring are not always the result of our own mistakes or failures… but if we approach them with short-sightedness, we will fail to learn the lesson that these hard times were designed to teach us. The presence of challenges in our path does not mean we have failed the Lord or are unworthy of moving forward. Many times, it simply means there is a game-breaking bug in our path that is going to force us to be patient, grow closer to the Lord, and submit to His voice… even if the message we are receiving is to stand by and await further instructions. Through these struggles we learn to incline our ears to His voice and tune ourselves to His frequency through the challenges we face. The problem may not change… but our perspective on it will. The only way that we learn to truly hear and submit to the voice of the Father is by the same process Christ endured… and if we will use these seemingly unwinnable battles to grow our dependence on Him, we will gain a victory that not only frees us, but others as well.

The church at Smyrna was faced with a challenge and a choice… would they allow the upcoming battles to shake their faith and disconnect them from the Lord, or would they endure these circumstances and forge an even deeper connection? The challenge was going to be present regardless… like the game-breaking bug in KOTOR 2, the bug that crashed the game came to everyone, whether they chose the path of the Jedi, the Sith, or somewhere in-between. It couldn’t be avoided, only addressed. Do we quit playing the game forever because we are currently faced with an unmovable obstacle? Do we choose not to start because we have heard about the problems that are inevitable in our future? Or do we choose to take them on, knowing full well that our patience will be tested, but the endgame will be worth it?

The choice we face is the same in KOTOR 2 as it is in life… these troubles will come to all of us, and it is up to US to decide what we do with them. These things aren’t happening because God is “mad” at us, stopped loving us, or isn’t concerned about us… as a matter of fact, He said quite specifically that Christ did NOT come to condemn the world, but to SAVE it (John 3:17). We will all face times when we reach a place that has stifled our progress, and it may have nothing to do with choices we made or the actions we took. And in those moments, we can either allow these game-breaking bugs to make us stronger in our faith and reinforce our desire to finish the game, or we can permit them to disconnect us from the only One who can help us. He isn’t the Author of these struggles, but He IS the Finisher of them. These rough waves are coming to all of us (Matthew 7:24-27)… and we make the choice if we use them to make us into more skillful sailors. Let’s be patient and grow our faith in the midst of these challenges… the Lord didn’t send them to punish us, but He will still use them to perfect us. The weapons our enemy formed against us will not prosper unless we allow them to (Isaiah 54:17)… and as a wise old Jedi Master once said, in our enemy’s vengeful efforts to strike us down they will only make us more powerful than our adversary ever imagined 🙂

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