I got an X-Box for Christmas from my in-laws. My bride despises video games because it seems to have the power to bring out the worst in my two boys. There is some truth to this. When we got a Wii a few years go, our oldest son quickly became known as the “Wii-wolf” because of the darkness of his video game playing persona. So despite my bride’s protests and my son’s history of outbursts, we received an X-box. One might think the new fangled “Kinect” would be the hit of the party. No, the real draw for me and my two warriors, is HALO.
HALO is your typical shoot-em up, kill everything, kind of game. Mom wasn’t real happy about the violence, believing that much like food–you are what you eat. I had seen my sons pour out violence after playing Super Mario brothers. The truth is, boys are violent. They make guns out sticks and grenades out of balled up socks. They punch each other in love and laugh when they kick each other in the junk. That is what boys do because God made them to be warriors. But, as far as “violent” games go, I appreciate HALO more than some of the more realistic military games because you’re killing ugly aliens instead of slitting the throats of men. And though the Wii-wolf rears his head every now and then, we have thoroughly enjoyed fighting together on the imaginary planet Reach. So, what does this have to do with Jesus?
The Wii-wolf and I were studying the gospel of John recently. The study asked us to empathize, or at least understand, how the “radical” ways of Jesus must have really made the Pharisees VERY uncomfortable. Much of their discomfort was rooted in how Jesus rocked their traditional beliefs, ones they held for centuries. The Old Testament had proven that God was serious about his laws–the ones that were given with Thunder and Fire. The ones that when broken cost people their lives. The ones that they would do anything to not break. Dishonoring the Sabbath, for example, was serious. Jesus didn’t seem to care at all about their traditions (he didn’t) and such sacrilege could cost them their lives. His point was that the image of Jesus John provides is SURPRISING.
Back to HALO. When my son and I were discussing this, I asked him what he though Jesus might do today that would surprise us. Of course, the traditional answers for adults are that Jesus would be hanging out in bars or casinos, you know, with the “sinners”. The boy couldn’t come up with anything really solid, so I asked him if he thought Jesus would play HALO. Without hesitation, he said, “No way.” When I asked him why, he didn’t know exactly, but he had never view Jesus finding HALO fun (at least that is not the Jesus mom taught!).
I told him I thought he would, because it would be the very thing that would surprise us. Yes, Jesus is dirtier than we think. It seems we like to talk about the radical nature of Jesus, as long as it is the radical Jesus of “back then.” We don’t seriously expect or want Jesus to surprise us (it might reveal our own self-righteousness). If Jesus played HALO, I can guarantee there would be protests from all kinds of certain Evangelical groups, decrying Jesus’ example of what Christians do. In the process, they would end up denying the savior who revealed himself “dirtier” than the clean-cut version they had built in their mind. And just like the Pharisees, they would miss the point of it all, and crucify Him all over again.