Getting Ugly? Xbox, Sony, Call of Duty, and the Challenging Truth About “Blessing Our Enemies”

Well… that didn’t take long. Microsoft’s massive acquisition of Activision Blizzard was not expected to endear them to Sony, but since the relationship between the two companies has typically demonstrated a level of professional respect and decorum over the years, we were all hopeful that this dramatic announcement wouldn’t upset the delicate status quo too badly. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has been openly complimentary of many of Sony’s exclusive franchises, and Sony was generous enough to acknowledge Microsoft’s success with Halo Infinite’s launch. I mean, sure… Call of Duty is a massive franchise with very few equals in the realm of gaming, and the news that Microsoft would be bringing these titles as well as the rest of Activision Blizzard’s releases to their Xbox Game Pass service on day one of their release was never going to make life easy for Sony. But now that the future of Call of Duty on Sony platforms (or the lack thereof) is beginning to become a little clearer, the relationship between the two competitors is starting to reveal some very real stress fractures.

While we still don’t know ALL of the details of this industry changing negotiation, it is apparent that these conversations are taking a turn for the ugly… typically this kind of information doesn’t find its’ way into the public’s eye until it is legally required to be disclosed. But with both Microsoft and Sony intentionally letting parts of their private conversation leak out to gaming journalists in an obvious attempt to demonstrate that they are the only ones truly negotiating in good faith, this has the potential to get a lot messier before all is said and done. And the funny thing is that neither of them are the true “villain” in this story… Microsoft made a fair purchase of Activision at an exceptionally high cost and has the right to develop and publish titles on whatever platform that they choose to once their current contracts are fulfilled. On the other hand, Sony has a vested interest in keeping the Call of Duty franchise available to their consumers and are simply seeking a fair opportunity to negotiate this deal privately and equitably. The “cold war” between Sony and Xbox is about to heat up very quickly… unless cooler heads prevail.

As followers of Christ, we are frequently caught in places of conflict with others in a variety of places and for a plethora of different reasons. These can range from inconsequential encounters to serious points of disagreement that can alter the course of our lives… and HOW we approach these interactions is just as important as WHAT we do with them. Many times, we may find ourselves in a position of being unable to resolve the discord we are in, and as a believer that can be challenging to reconcile with our faith. How do we balance our pursuit of peace with others without failing to be true to ourselves, our beliefs, and the needs of others in these moments in which a “middle ground” cannot be found? How do we protect ourselves from being continually hurt by those who are making decisions and taking actions that negatively impact us in unacceptable ways? Whether we find ourselves playing the role of Microsoft or Sony in these tense points of contention in life, we need some answers.

Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

It is clear from both the words of Paul as well as Christ Himself that the pursuit of peace as well as the intentional act of “making peace” is an expectation for those who follow the Lord. But that can be a lot easier said than done… despite our best efforts at both making and keeping the peace in the world around us, we can often find that our tranquil approach to the day can be broken within minutes after opening our eyes in the morning. Whether it is that first notification on our phone, the moment we step through the door at our places of school/work, popping into our emails and social media, or simply the act of rolling over in bed to face the day, conflict FINDS its’ way to us. And finding a way to manage these conflicts in a way that faithfully represents Christ is not something that comes naturally to ANY of us… from the very beginning of human history, the way we have approached interpersonal conflict has been problematic to say the least. The first time Adam and Eve found themselves in a marital conflict, the blame games started IMMEDIATELY…

Genesis 3:11-12 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The first sibling rivalry? That one ended in cold-blooded murder (Genesis 4:8). Humanity has demonstrated an inability to manage conflict from our inception… a predicament that Christ came to save us from. And in Christ’s very first recorded full length sermon, He took on this problem directly and with finality…

Matthew 5:43-47 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 

Praying for our enemies is probably something that we have all heard a few times over the years… but if I am being honest, my prayers for my enemies aren’t exactly something I would be proud of saying out loud. Similar to the tense negotiations between Microsoft and Sony, my prayers sound a little less like Christ’s prayer from the cross when He said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” and a little more like “Lord, speedily avenge me against my adversaries”. And as hard as it may be for me to reconcile this concept, I am essentially asking my Heavenly Father to CHOOSE between two of His children… two children that He loves and sent His Son to die for (John 3:16). Those who I am currently at odds with… He LOVES them. Even when we are behaving poorly towards each other, He loves us with an eternal love and has a will and plan for EACH of us that is designed to do GOOD things for us (Jeremiah 29:11)… so how can I possibly pray something evil or negative towards those I am in conflict with and expect that prayer to be answered? The thought process of blessing those who persecute me or are engaged in conflict with me may run counter-intuitive to my emotions, but it is not merely a recommendation. It is an expectation.

1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Microsoft and Sony may be on the opposite sides of a deal that will change the landscape of the gaming industry forever… but they will make the choice as to whether this conflict makes the gaming world stronger and reinforces positive competition, or acts as a divisive moment that hurts each other, the Call of Duty franchise, and the gamers who have followed this game across multiple platforms over the last twenty years. The reality is that what is in the best interests of Microsoft and their newly acquired Call of Duty franchise is to continue to grow and expand their audience… even if it is being played on platforms other than an Xbox console. And if they choose to take the high road, negotiate in good faith, and do what is best for their fanbase as well as their opposition, they may find that the most lucrative part of this partnership still lies ahead of them. And in our personal lives, these points of contention that we find ourselves in don’t have to DIVIDE us… if we allow the Lord to use them, even the most challenging and conflict-heavy portions of our lives can be used to grow us, refine us, and accomplish the Father’s will in ways that simply could not happen without them. What is good for PlayStation in this situation is ALSO good for Xbox… both stand to gain from the peace that would benefit all of us. And this principle is true for us in our day-to-day conflicts, battles, and disagreements… if we truly desire what is best for those who we find ourselves at odds with, we will often find that the path to our own happiness and peace comes from genuinely seeking the happiness and peace of those who are currently opposing us.

The truth is that we are at our most Christ-like when we PRAY for our enemies… but WHAT we pray for them is just as important as the ACT of praying for them. If we are praying for their punishment, judgment, or demise we have completely missed the point. Are we praying GOOD things for them, such as their forgiveness and redemption the way Jesus demonstrated from the cross (Luke 23:34)? Do we truly seek their happiness, health, and restoration the way the Good Samaritan did when he saved someone who would not necessarily have reciprocated that act of generosity (Luke 10:25-37)? Do we choose to forgive our debtors the way Christ commanded us, even though they never actually made things right with us (Matthew 6:12)? Or do we hold private grudges, set them up for failure, and feel secretly satisfied when our opposition “gets what is coming to them”? Just as Microsoft and Sony are finding in their increasingly acrimonious battle over Call of Duty, many times in life we will find that we are placed in points of conflict that we would prefer to avoid… but how we choose to navigate and respond to those challenges will share and show more of Christ’s love and compassion than a million sermons ever could. Let’s choose to respond to every conflict, great or small, the way that Christ both commanded and demonstrated for us… publicly AND privately. Jesus didn’t just “pray” for His enemies. He BLESSED them. He did GOOD for them. And if we choose to see others the way the Lord sees them, we will stop seeing them as our opposition… no matter how pronounced our disagreement is. We will see them as equally precious souls that He came to save. So, let’s bless our “neighbors” here on earth… even the ones who aren’t behaving very neighborly right now. We may be sharing a zip code with them on the other side of eternity 🙂

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