Travel back in time with me to 2014. Back in those halcyon days, I was a part of a group of heroes who would regularly gather together to answer the Call of Duty and rid the world of brain-eating zombies. We had been doing this for a couple of years and were looking for something new to do. So, we tried a few other shooters, we tried some Left for Dead. Then, my brother-in-law, Ryan, got in my head. He kept talking about a new game from Bungie that he loved called Destiny. It was a hybrid between an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) and an FPS (first person shooter). I was skeptical, I dragged my feet. Finally, we were desperate for a game to try, so I went to a few different Redbox locations, and we tried Destiny. We were flummoxed by its fireteam system (why would you only have parties of 3?!), we were underwhelmed by its character choices and the fact you had to do a few story missions before you actually joined together, and trying to jump into PVP was just crazy. But one thing was clear: this game was cool, the enemies were interesting, and I was going to be hooked.
Flash forward to today. I have spent soooo much time and money playing Destiny and Destiny 2. Destiny has become a much, much bigger part of my life than I ever thought possible. And you know what? I'm okay with that. I never thought a shooter would be a dominant game in my life, but hey, Try Everything right? Just a heads up, there's going to be some jargon in this post. I'm going to try to have translations in parenthesis, but just in case I miss stuff, I'm sorry.
So, cool, Destiny. What does this have to do with living like Jesus? Well, while I was playing a couple of weeks ago, I had a thought. There was a big boss at the end of a Strike (a big mission that it takes three people to beat) that I was focused on just trying to burn down (kill quickly). I'm ridiculously OP (overpowered) for this activity (a thing you do in the game), so I just wanted to kill the boss and move on. I'm firing off my super (an "ultimate" ability each player has) and sniping away (firing a high-impact sniper rifle) when all of the sudden I died (it's okay, don't worry. In Destiny you play a space-super-hero that was dead and has been brought back to life by a "Ghost" and every time you die it just resurrects you again after a small delay). Shocked, I looked around to see what could have killed me. I looked and noticed that I had been overrun by the adds. That's when I chuckled at myself for ignoring the adds, and a light bulb went off for this post.
What Are Adds?
Adds (additional enemies) are small fry enemies. They are the stormtroopers, the pawns, the orc horde, the shadow heartless, the "filler" enemies. They die easily, and the hits they give are pretty easy to shrug off. In fact, for the most part, they exist in order to give you experience, items, currency, and ammo. They are the inconveniences that give you the boosts you need in order to go the distance against the boss.
Why Do They Matter?
If adds are so weak, what's the big deal? Well, adds are like the opposite of ninjas: if there is just one, it's not a big deal but if there are a hundred of them you are dead meat. I cannot tell you how often I have tunnel visioned on the mechanics (what you need to do other than just shoot bad-guys) of a mission or the crazy bosses, or the horrible jumping puzzles (jump from place to place and if you miss you die or get set back a lot) only to be killed by the adds that I had ignored. They aren't even a real threat? Why do I keep dying to them?!
Adds In Our Lives
I keep dying to them because I keep ignoring them. And the same thing happens in our lives. We can easily become fixated on the big boss (sharing the gospel with people, poverty, homelessness, wars, social and economic injustice) or the mechanics (finances, family, friends) or the jumping puzzles (what am I good at?, what should I be doing with my life?, where's the best pizza in this city?) of life, and we forget about the adds. What are the adds in our lives? They are the little struggles, the minor temptations, the daily grinds that we often overlook and think nothing about. An add can be how I am going to respond when I am tired and someone says something annoying. An add can be whether or not I am going to turn on the computer and look at something I know I shouldn't. An add is going to be whether I look at a homeless person with condescension or compassion. An add can be whether or not I snap at my spouse. An add can be whether or not to eat that next piece of pizza. An add can be whether or not I spend time reading the Scriptures or spend time in prayer. An add can be whether or not I hide my hurts and sins and shame, or confess to others and allow healing to come.
Why The Adds Matter in Our Lives
Adds can serve a good purpose. In video games, they provide experience, items, currency, ammo - the things you need to grow and get stronger. Grinding (beating foes or levels over and over to get the rewards) makes you stronger. It takes time, it's annoying, but it's how you get stronger. It's how something that seemed like a boss a month ago seems like an add today. The same is true with the adds in our lives. The trials, temptations, sufferings, and challenges that we face can help us grow. Fighting the adds in our lives can make us stronger. James says, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Fighting the adds in our lives can help us "level-up", or as Paul puts it, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." And fighting the adds in our lives gives us something precious. Peter proclaims, "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Wipe Them Out
The adds matter in our lives. Why do we have habits that are hard to break? Because the adds have swarmed us. Why do we find it so hard to overcome huge sins in our lives? Maybe part of it is because we fail to clear the adds out before taking on the boss. Let's take gluttony as an example. Year after year I say I am going to lose weight. And year after year I don't. Gluttony is a huge boss in my life. And I come at it hard. I gather all my willpower, I make financial investments, and I go after this thing. And then I get wiped (entire group or party killed). I ignored the adds in my life. I ignored the emotional-eating component and get wiped. I ignored the social-eating component and get wiped. I ignored the soda and candy component and get wiped. I ignore the spiritual component and think I can handle it. Guess what happens? We need to take every single little thing seriously. Each of these trials and attacks is important. By the grace of the Father, by the power of the Spirit, and in the name of the Son, we need to clear out the adds in our lives. Don't just focus the bosses - clear the adds. The adds matter.