Christianity is Like a Video Game. You’ve Got to Work At It Until You’re Good At It!   Leave a comment

For those of you wanting to be a deeper Christian, maybe struggling with to put good habits in your life, perhaps looking at others and questioning whether you’re serious or not, this article is for you.

sonicgreenhillzone

Sonic the Hedgehog on the Mega Drive/Genesis. I had to work on it until I could beat every level and win every emerald as well! (I wanted to show off by playing longer and take a picture later, but I thought you’d recognise this picture quicker.)

In 1998, my mother bought me a Sega Mega Drive for Christmas! Oh how I remember hooking that bad boy up to the 14 inch TV and playing Sonic the Hedgehog in all his bright, 16-bit glory! But I didn’t just have that to play, I had 5 other games to satisfy my gaming hunger. One game caught my eye – Super Monaco GP. It’s a racing game and I like driving games, so I gave it a try. The first race was in San Marino, and from the moment the klaxon sounded I flew down that course for the first 20 seconds. I could almost feel the wind in my curly Jamaican hair. A sharp left turn approached, so I pulled my car left and… crashed. Hardcore. I proceeded to do this about 1000 times for a few years, sometimes being lucky enough to survive, but for the most part I had died in several car crashes in the Super Monaco Grand Prix universe.

Fast forward to 2010 (roughly), and I still had my Mega Drive, and my copy of Super Monaco GP. I had been Born Again and busy with that for sometime, but I had some free days, so I picked up the iconic Mega Drive controller and began to play. And to my amazement, I finished the game. Top billing in both seasons, and completed all 32 races (even the baloney 17th and 18th races with that jerk G. Ceara), something I had never been able to.

You’ve seen the article’s title so you can guess what happened. Somewhere in-between ’98 and ’10 was a lot of playing, learning, and wising up. (Albeit not for 12 years straight, but work with me.) I worked at Super Monaco GP until I got good at it, even though I started out not being able to make it beyond the 1st few races. My Christian friend, you might have started out not being able to make it beyond some hurdles in your faith. Like reading the Bible everyday, or going to church consistently. Perhaps you find it difficult to stop boozing and partying, or watching pornography. Well, I want you to know if you work at it, you will become good at it.

Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.
2 Peter 3:18 (New Living Translation)

By working at it, I’m talking in part about feeding yourself spirituality so that you can grow. Did you know that you can grow spiritually? Nobody starts off a skilled giant in the lifetime walk of Christianity, it takes growth, and growth takes time and feeding. Have you seen a 6 foot tall baby boy in the new born baby ward at hospital, complete with a beard and a mortgage? (If you have, send me a picture and I’ll include it on the next Richie Rich Show.) It takes time and feeding to the child before he becomes a man. Similarly, the Bible talks about as new born babies (or new, young people in the Christian faith) we should desire the sincere milk of the word so that we will grow. It takes time and feeding on the Word of God before certain problems fall out of our lives, and we become spiritual grown-ups.

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment,
1 Peter 2:2 (New Living Translation)

If you want to pray more and for a long time, you’ve got to work at it.
If you want to understand more of God’s Word, you’ve got to work at it.
If you want to seek God on a daily basis, you’ve got to work at it.
If you want to win more souls in your workplace or school, you’ve got to work at it.
If you want to escape any strongholds or bad thoughts in your mind, you’ve got to work at it.
If you want freedom from substance abuse, pornography, or other addictive behaviour, you’ve got to work at it.

Work at it it, until you’re good at it.

This is Super Monaco GP - one of my favourite games to play. Look at those cutting edge graphics! (Note: compliment may contain sarcasm.)

This is Super Monaco GP – one of my favourite games to play. Look at those cutting edge graphics! (Note: compliment may contain sarcasm.)

As it relates to the video games, I had to kick about in the dirt, doing all I could with my limited ability. I crashed several hundred times on those sharp corners on Super Monaco GP until I learned that you have to take your foot off the acclerator before you turn your car. My car fell apart several times before I realised it is wise to pit in early and fix up the car, rather than risking the whole race on worn out tyres and low fuel. I learned because I refused to give up playing and I wanted to work at it. You will learn and grow as a Christian if you refuse to give up, and will work at it until you’re good at it. If you keep praying, reading the Word, loving your church and loving others, your connection to God will grow as much as you want it to, and He will help you through every trial and temptation.

I have a friend who used to drink and smoke weed. Now, you would never believe they were ever deeply into this lifestyle if you met them today, that’s how far they’ve come in Christ. They would describe their dropping of those habits as instantaneous as they desired more of The Lord. I used to wonder vividly, ‘why do they get to escape these problems so easily and I’m stuck here like a dog chasing it’s tail’? Maybe you’ve asked yourself similar questions. Well I soon learned this is not a good way of thinking because…

  • By comparing yourself to others you will think there is something wrong with you when there is nothing wrong at all. Looking at other people sometimes makes you think you are not a real Christian because ‘they are so good’. Take this person I mentioned, although these very obvious problems may have ceased quickly in their life, there were other strongholds that needed breaking down that are not easily seen. Here’s a truth about weaknesses: not everyone can see them, and not everyone can see them all the time. Never, EVER believe that ‘everyone around me seems stronger than I am’. The truth is everyone is weak but not everyone appears to weak at the same time. Some people in your church will appear very strong this Sunday afternoon, and Sunday evening sadly will appear very weak with no-one watching. This is a reason why it is not wise to compare yourself to others. (2 Corinthians 10:12) Go at your pace. In His time, He will make your life beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
  • When it comes to enforcing new Christian habits and fighting temptations, problems do not stop just like that. The fight of our lives as Christians is to firmly establish good habits like praying and reading the Bible, and to cut off the bad habits like lying, pre-marital sex, blah blah. Here’s another truth: it is easier to form bad habits than to shake them off. Most people with an addiction problem suffer from intense cravings in their bodies, even years after having grace to give it all up. Jesus does not wave a magic wand at your addictions and temptations and make them vanish. Even this person I mentioned, who I envied for a while for the grace in their life, went back to their vices once or twice, as they told me. You are forgiven by God of your sins through Jesus, but you don’t get off scot-free – you need to learn discipline your body. Start planning HOW and WHEN you will read the Bible, pray, fast, go to church so that you can grow. If you have an addiction, start learning about your issue formally (in support meetings, talking to your pastor) or informally (reading books on your issue in your own time). You can do it!
  • You have no business thinking about others – your priority is your own relationship with God. I’m not saying be selfish and don’t think about others. I’m saying that the Bible says examine yourself, not your friends. (2 Corinthians 13:5) If the thoughts you think about others begin with ‘why are they more’, your mind is breeding jealousy. Jealousy does not come from the Holy Spirit! If someone is ‘more spiritual’ than you, why do you care? Think about YOU! Christianity is not a rat race; we’re not trying to beat each other to the Lord’s throne. It is a relationship with God where you speak to Him, He speaks to you, and you live together connected. So look at yourself and ask yourself hard questions instead of envying others. If you know what you need to do to bring yourself closer to God, why don’t you just man up and do it?

This is where WORKING AT YOUR CHRISTIANITY comes in. You might be useless at resisting temptation now, you might think you’re rubbish at praying now, you might not understand a lot of the Bible now, you may not be able to keep up in church now, but LATER you will be better if you keep working at your Christianity. Never give up!

As I mentioned earlier, comparing yourself gets you nowhere. The key problem with comparing yourself to another person’s progress is that you don’t focus on your own progress. You will start thinking you’re not growing fast enough in God when actually, you’re growing just fine and even God Himself is pleased with you. Imagine that – the Creator of the universe delights in how much you’re trying to live for Him, and all you can do is moan about how ‘easy’ someone else has it. It’s not even true! It’s time to let your eyes look straight ahead and focus on where you’re going with your own life. (Proverbs 4:25)

Conversely, if you have been a Christian for a while and you don’t have much depth, you need to start asking yourself some hard questions. Why should a baby remain under 3 feet tall for 30 years? Is it not a disease? Is your Christianity diseased? ‘Going at your own pace’ is not code for doing what you want, when you can be bothered to do it. You’ve got some growing to do, which means you’ve got some feeding to do. What is your connection to with God like – frequent or in frequent? Why have you not upgraded from praying for 10 minutes every 10 days? Why don’t you understand any more or less about God’s Word than 2 years ago? And do you want to go to hell after calling yourself a Christian? Again I challenge you: you’ve got some growing to do, which means you’ve got some feeding to do.

With all that said, it’s not bad to take inspiration from those ahead of you. Inspiration is not the same as comparison – inspiration means to be aroused to do special or unusual activity. Look at your friends qualities and be encouraged that if they can be holy, you can be holy too. I’m comfortable saying that I now take inspiration from the person I mentioned earlier. What a fine person they are! What an encouragement their life and story is to me! :mrgreen:

I think it’s time to roll up our sleeves and work on our walk with God. What do you think? 🙂

How To Work At Your Christianity

I’ve been saying to work on your Christianity like I worked on my Super Monaco GP racing game. So, how do you do it? Where do you start?

Another Super Monaco GP shot. I remember all the frustrating times I had on this as a kid... Until I worked on it!

Another Super Monaco GP shot. I remember all the frustrating times I had on this as a kid… Until I worked on it!

I won’t give you a big elaborate answer because the battle itself is big and elaborate. If you’re asking me for a few bullet points on how to work at your Christianity, I will say it all lies in daily prayer, daily Bible reading, very regular church attendance and obeying what God says you should do. What should you cut off to survive as a Christian? According to Hebrews 12:1, any sinful nature and anything that puts a weight on your Christianity. There are very obvious things even a worldly person like lying, stealing, fornicating, blaspheming, drunkeness, jealousy, blah blah. Then there things you will only understand once God reveals it to you personally when you study his Word.

What should you work on first? It’s debatable, but look at your weaknesses and at least make sure you working on the biggest one. the biggest one. Also, make sure that whatever you do, don’t disconnect yourself from God. Yes, you might have watched some porn during the week but God is still interested in you. Don’t stay home from church, and don’t stop praying. God is still interested in you.

So go for it! Start implementing things one by one. The truth is you may not win every battle. As I write this article, God is working on so much in me. I’m far from a perfect craft, but here’s a quote from Every Young Man’s Battle:

Sure, you’re anxious to win. Sure, you want to put this stuff behind you. But it’s not as important to focus on some self-imposed deadline as it is to focus on where you’re headed. This is going to be a battle – a battle that will demand your time and patience.
Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker, Every Young Man’s Battle

The goal is to move closer to God. Whatever your methodology, whether you’re trying to increase your church going, trying to pray more or trying to cut off some friends and habits, keep that on mind. Every time things don’t go your way, get up and come back even stronger. Learn from your mistakes! For example, a large part of my battle for sexual purity is simply remembering where and when I fell, and religiously avoiding them in future. If you don’t make it very far in 2 months, so what? Don’t give in to the enemy’s lies, and persevere at holiness.

Most of all, it is the grace of God that allows. All the strategies and manoeuvres are just self-help tips without God’s input, and self-help always fails eventually. But the Bible says it is not he who wills or runs, but whom God has mercy on who succeeds. (Romans 9:16) The Bible says it is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit (grace) of God. (Zechariah 4:6) The Bible says commit your actions to the Lord and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3) Trust in God by praying and always involving Him in everything you do, and don’t lean too much on what you know. After all, what do you know anyway? (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Knowing the Word of God is crucial. When you feed on the Word of God, you are working at your Christianity. People say ‘you are what you eat’ – well, what does your spirit eat? Spiritual junk or spiritual food from the Bible? Some easy ways to feed on the Word of God:

  • Go to a Bible-believing church every week and listen intently to the preaching. Take notes of the verses. Take notes of the good sayings. Take notes of things you didn’t understand. Stop going on Facebook and reading messages. Stop sleeping during services. Church is not a dormant, inactive place to attend, tick a box with God and say, ‘I did it this week, alright?’ Church is where we learn from God’s servant by the Word of God. Use it wisely.
  • Be devoted to reading your Bible everyday. Have what some like to call a ‘quiet time’ or a ‘daily devotional’ everyday where you sit, pray, study some scriptures, learn from the Word, and let God speak to you. God will speak to you foundationally through His word – not Tupac, not EastEnders, not Justin Beiber, but the BIBLE. Get more Bible time in your life! If you are too busy to read the Bible, even just a little, you’re too busy! Sorry!
  • Read Christian books regularly, especially books at your level and books about things you are interested in. Being a new born baby and eating KFC is not a good idea – if you are a new Christian or in need of growth Christian, get fundamental books because your issues are foundational. (And a foundation is the most important part of a building.) Then read books on topics of the faith that interest you. I like biographies of men of God because I want to be a minister, so that’s what I buy. I can make you some recommendations if you leave me a comment.
  • Listen to sermons outside of church. Don’t be greedy for TV or YouTube. It’s a nice programme, but what does Britain’s Got Talent do for your spiritual growth? Bupkiss. Start buying and downloading preaching, start listening and fill yourself up with the Word of God. Study the Word of God on your own, with your own intiative. 90% of the things we hear are not kept in your brain on the initial hearing. You must hear it more than once, twice or 10 times if you want it in you!

In Conclusion…

I’m happy that at least before my Mega Drive croaked, I somewhat mastered Super Monaco GP. From not being able to get through the first sharp corner as a child to being able to top all 32 races as a man, it will forever be the example that proves my personal proverb – following Christ is like a video game. You’ve got to work at it, until you’re good at it.

I really enjoyed writing this article (and spontaeneously suspended video work), and I hope you’re understanding what the message is – don’t give in. Keep growing in the Lord. Got any questions or comments? Maybe you want some book or Bible reading recommendations? Leave me a comment below and let’s talk.

This is Mr First Class, and have a good 2014 y’all!

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