Many modern video games have, what the gaming community calls, a “levelling-up” system. A levelling-up system is the system that enables the player to make the character they control stronger, smarter and healthier. Most games require the player to utilize this system to enable their character to progress through the game. There are, however, some video games that do not require the character to be mightier in any way. Instead, the player will be required to equip their character with more powerful tools and weaponry as the game progresses. So in this case the tools and weaponry are “levelled-up” and not the character. In the video game Minecraft, for example, your character remains the weak blockhead that he starts off as. However, via proxy of the power of the character’s tools and weaponry, they can become mightier.
At the heart, Minecraft is a building and survival game. The point of the game is to build strongholds in order to survive against monsters. Players are also to live off the land. So the player is to plant crops to eat and farm livestock for clothing and food. However, in order to do this the player needs to have powerful tools. The player always starts off in a new world with literally nothing. They have to craft themselves a wooden tool by first gathering wood; then they have to use that wooden tool to dig up stone to “level-up” their “wooden-tool” to a “stone-tool”. They now can mine iron to make themselves “iron-tools”. The more powerful your tool or weapon is, the greater chance you have of seeing your character through the next day, alive.
However, crafting an iron-axe from a stone-axe which was crafted from a wooden-axe isn’t the only way a player’s tools are levelled up. There are many resources in a Minecraft world that cannot be mined, as is. If you chop down a tree you get a log with bark. So the resource you mine remains what it was before it was mined. A tree trunk with bark remains a tree trunk with bark after you have chopped it down. However, if you break stone you don’t get stone. Instead, you get cobblestone. This is fine if you want cobblestone but what if you want stone? You have two options. 1) Craft a furnace from cobblestone, mine some coal for fuel and smelt the cobblestone to turn it back into stone. Or 2) using an “enchanting table” (which must be crafted from rare resources) you can attach the Silk-Touch ability to your tool. With this Silk-Touch ability attached to your tool you can now mine resources that normally would not stay as is. Stone will now be mined as stone.
Needless to say, maneuvering around a Minecraft world is not simple. And neither is a conversation about sensitive subjects such as religion. Why? Many religions, such as Christianity, teach their tenets to be facts, not opinions. Many people throughout history have disagreed as they assert that the views of the Bible are not facts but are mere opinions. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God (cf. John 8:58). Many other religions, however, disagree. Christianity says that an active belief in Jesus as God is the only way to heaven, (cf. John 8:24; John 14:6); and every other religion disagrees. Christianity asserts homosexuality to be sinful. Secular society disagrees. Christianity and science both state that life begins at conception. Secular society disagrees. Christianity states that all human beings, regardless of any kind of difference, are equal in worth. Many societies throughout history have disagreed. Needless to say, maneuvering around many of our modern topics is not simple – especially when they are discussed from the Christian worldview.
However, Christians are called to advocate for these topics when they come up. It seems that no matter how careful a Christian may be in discussing such issues, when they are discussing them from the Christian worldview they are going to offend someone. How, then, can the Christian have these conversations so they can be effective? There are four ways:
- Engage: Engage the person in conversation. In other words, don’t not have it.
- Let Christ lead: This step should ideally share in first place with the point indicated above. In order to have an effective conversation about ones Christian faith they are to ensure that they set Christ up as the LORD, in their hearts, (1 Peter 3:15a). As I stated above, this must be done first (right along with not backing away from a conversation about ones faith.) This means that the Christian is to step up to the plate and stand aside to let Christ lead. This sentence may sound contradictory, so let me explain via an example from Scripture. The apostle Peter is hauled in front of the Jewish authorities for preaching Jesus Christ as LORD. The Jewish authorities demanded that he stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Peter responded to their request. He did this by engaging them in conversation (step #1). He stepped up to the plate and not did cower away. However, he stepped aside and relied on Christ to lead him through the conversation, (Acts 4). He “[trusted] in the Lord with all [his] heart [and did not] lean on [his] own understanding,” (Proverbs 3:5).
- Be prepared: The Apostle Paul has a discussion about a “thorn” that was in his side (2 Corinthians 12:7-21). This “thorn” has been a topic of discussion among scholars for centuries. The debate is over whether this “thorn” resembles a real physical ailment or a spiritual battle. Regardless what this thorn is, it is crippling. And Paul’s attitude is the same. He writes that he is “content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake” (2 Corinthians 12:1a) and states: “for when I am weak, then I am strong, (my emphasis)” (2 Corinthians 12:10b). Paul admits that he is not strong, apart from Christ, (cf. Philippians 4:13). Unlike many video game characters, we will never be “stronger” as each of the days of our lives pass. That is, we will never be stronger outside of Christ’s impact in our lives. Instead, however, we are going to be stronger with Christ; as how my Minecraft character is dependant on the strength of his tools. Therefore, we are to prepare ourselves with Christ as the leader (1 Peter 3:15a); but also with knowledge in how to engage in the conversation. Why? So we are prepared to give our responses, (1 Peter 1:13; 3:15b).
- Be gentle: Given the sensitivity of many of the subjects that are discussed, how is the Christian to approach them? Using a “silk-touch” ability. They are called to be gentle in their response (1 Peter 3:15c). They have to tell the truth; however, it is always best to be sensitive in their delivery. In Minecraft, when the player whacks away at stone with a regular pick-axe, they break the stone into tiny rocks, i.e. cobblestone. However, whacking away at a person with truth so their spirit is shattered into tiny pieces isn’t often effective and is often counterintuitive. When I am building a structure in Minecraft that is made of stone (not cobblestone), I need to whack away at the stone but I have to have the stone that I mine stay intact; otherwise it won’t be effective. As a Christian I need to ensure that when I tell the truth to someone it is done so that the lie they believe is shattered, but not their spirit.