Call of Duty MW2: A Dummy Disc in Disguise? Conduits or Containers

The annual launch of a new Call of Duty game has essentially become part of the gamer’s calendar year… and while the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft will potentially disrupt the status quo for this long-running franchise, this month’s launch of the latest incarnation of Call of Duty has shown no signs of slowing down. In only three days, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 has steamrolled to a whopping $800 million dollars in sales, overcoming mediocre campaign reviews and firmly reestablishing this franchise as a juggernaut with few equals in the gaming space. But in all the hubbub to get this game purchased and installed so they could get started “answering the call”, a curious bit of data was revealed that points to an interesting future ahead for not only Call of Duty, but other large titles that are coming to our consoles in the future. Call of Duty titles are always massive games in terms of data size, so it is unsurprising that this one weighs in at over 150GB of space. What IS surprising is that the physical disc inside of a retail copy of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 only contains 72MB of data… yes, you read that correctly. The disc itself acts as little more than an authentication key that gives the owner of the disc the ability to download the information from the internet… the physical disc itself does not contain the game in any way, shape, or form.

So… you may be wondering why is this a problem. I mean, most games require a major update prior to launching the game, so why is this mostly empty disc troubling news? Well, imagine you had just purchased a brand-new car… you ate the free hot dogs, selected the color of the floor mats, signed all the paperwork, and are ready to drive out of the dealership in your new vehicle when you read the fine print and realize you didn’t buy a car… you bought a set of CAR KEYS. Sure, the car keys in your hands power the vehicle you are currently sitting in, but you don’t actually OWN the car, just the means of accessing it. This would probably result in a trip back to the dealership to try to sort this out (and probably eat 1-2 more hot dogs). This act of selling a disc that doesn’t contain ANY game data sets a dangerous precedent… because like other fully online titles such as Fortnite, if the studio that is currently supporting the game is either unwilling or unable to do so in the future, EVERYTHING we have invested into that game disappears along with the game itself. Multiple popular games have had their servers shut down, ending the existence of those titles permanently and preventing them from ever being played again by gamers in the future. Every other copy of Call of Duty we possess can still be played offline, and the data that is stored on the disc will ensure that even if the company no longer supports the game digitally, it will still exist physically in perpetuity. But Modern Warfare 2 does not exist on a disc… only the means to access it does. And that means it can only connect us to the source of the code… it does not actually possess the code itself.

One of the largest challenges I have personally faced in my walk of faith is the struggle between acting as a carrier of the Lord’s grace or merely a conduit… while it is certainly true that we do not possess the power to do His work within ourselves without His Spirit empowering us, it is CRITICAL that we are full partakers of the grace that He has given on a daily basis, and not merely “empty discs” that can point the way to a Christ we are not currently “filled” with. And many times, I find myself “running on empty”, attempting to share the Lord with others through a variety of means without actually feeding myself from His fountain as well. This feeling of “spiritual burnout” can seem to come suddenly and without warning, but the truth is my internal “check engine” light has simply been glowing red so long that I became accustomed to it. Little by little, I convinced myself that as long as I was still functioning for Christ, I was “connected”. But like that Call of Duty disc that is virtually empty except for the connection it can provide to the full experience, I was only consuming enough to point others to the way… I was exhausted, worn out, and if I am being truly honest, starting to resent the mission just a little bit. So let’s take a look back in the Old Testament at a time in which another war was being waged and a different kind of “Call of Duty” was being answered… and maybe we will learn a little more about the importance of filling ourselves.

1 Samuel 14:24-30 And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food. Now all the people of the land came to a forest; and there was honey on the ground.  And when the people had come into the woods, there was the honey, dripping; but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath; therefore he stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his countenance brightened. Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed is the man who eats food this day.’ ” And the people were faint. But Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. Look now, how my countenance has brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now would there not have been a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?”

The war between the Israelites and the Philistines consumed the entirety of King Saul’s reign… and in the early stages of this campaign Saul, his son Jonathan, and the entire Israeli military were outnumbered, under-equipped, and exhausted. Saul had committed his entire army to serve him on an empty stomach until full victory had been achieved… but Jonathan had not been present when that command was made. Jonathan pointed out the exceptional futility of trying to fight such a critical battle without consuming what was necessary to sustain his vitality… and the reality that the victory would have been even greater if the participants had been full rather than empty. By following the misguided idea that their unnecessary suffering would lead to greater rewards, Saul had placed a burden on the people that the Lord had never asked him to do. And if I am being honest, I have been that same “empty disc” that the Lord never asked me to be more times than I care to admit, choosing to ignore the “honey” that the Lord placed directly in my path to consume because I was so bent on performing what He has placed in my heart to do. And in this spiritual place of self-initiated famishment, the reality is that while the Lord will absolutely use us as vessels of His grace to be poured out time and time again (Philippians 2:17), He is also faithful to FILL every one of us up as often as we will choose to stop and eat at His table (Acts 2:17).

Ephesians 3:17-19 That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

As followers of Christ, we all carry within our hearts the Great Commission that the Lord has called us to (Matthew 28:18-20). But this incredible responsibility did not come without the addition of supernatural empowerment from the Holy Spirit to fill us up and give us the ability to perform it (Acts 1:8, Acts 2). We are not called to be empty, joyless servants of the Lord acting as mere conduits of His grace to others… we should be overflowing with happiness and joy ourselves (John 15:11, 1 Peter 1:8, Romans 15:13), freely tasting the honey even in the midst of the battle like Jonathan did. Like those empty Call of Duty discs, we may be able to help connect others to the servers, but we are not merely here to be used as access points… we are meant to CONTAIN this data within ourselves as well (2 Corinthians 4:7). If we find ourselves exhausted, worn out, depleted, and feeling like we are “useful” but not truly “full”, it is time to take a break and get filled back up with the same joy, love, and peace that we are connecting others to. Let’s taste the honey and enjoy the goodness of the Lord for ourselves (Psalm 34:8). He commanded us to go and reach others… but He never commanded us to go empty 🙂

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