The Prerequisite to “Playing With Power” (Part Two) – Finding God in Video Games

The imminent release of Spider-Man 2 is pretty exciting news for gamers around the world…well, as long as they have the right console, anyways. Just as the launch of Starfield was exclusively delivered for Microsoft’s Xbox console and the PC audience, Spider-Man 2 is a PlayStation exclusive… a PlayStation FIVE exclusive to be exact. And while that is not an issue for those who already possess a shiny PS5 system, it does leave those of us who have NOT made that console purchase yet on the outside looking in. And that includes yours truly… yes, as much as I hate to admit it, I have not jumped on the PS5 bandwagon yet. Partially because they aren’t cheap, but mostly because I haven’t observed anything come out on a PS5 yet that compelled me to purchase one yet. We have our Xbox Series X that has served us faithfully for most of the newest games that have come out, our Nintendo Switch for all of our Nintendo gaming goodness, and we have survived thus far with our PS4 for any Sony exclusives that we needed to play. And not just ANY PS4… we are proud owners of the SPIDER-MAN PS4 Pro model. So, the news of the new Spider-Man game coming out EXCLUSIVELY on the PS5 is a bit problematic for us, being that we are pretty big Spider-Man fans who don’t HAVE a PS5. Tough decisions need to be made here…

Here is my conundrum… I was a Sony fan LONG before Microsoft ever unveiled their first Xbox console. I have been a proud (and mostly satisfied) owner of every PlayStation console in existence up to this point… and that includes their portable systems as well. I suffered with them through their slow adoption of broadband internet technology, I dealt with multiple PS2 console replacements due to drive tray issues and faulty disc readers, and I faithfully bought each of their consoles to this point more than once (original versions, slim versions, and now Pro versions). I have been a fan through the thick and the thin (literally), I embraced all of their attempts at technological innovation such as the EyeToy and the Sony VR… but now I don’t even possess their most recent system. And that Spider-Man PS4 Pro console still sits in my entertainment center, but I can’t even honestly recollect the last time it was powered on. Over the years, my faithfulness to the Sony console family slowly started to dwindle as I felt my heart turn towards their competitors… and while I still retained a nostalgic appreciation for what Sony and their gaming legacy has meant to me over the years, I find myself exclusively spending time with my Xbox and Switch now. But since that beautiful looking Spider-Man 2 game isn’t coming anywhere near EITHER of those two consoles, I have a decision to make. If I want to PLAY the game and experience it for myself, I will have to restore my relationship with Sony, make the investment, and pick up a PS5 console. It isn’t a punishment… it is simply a prerogative for participation.

Now before we swing into part two of this series, here is part one if you would like to get caught up to speed…

Dealing with “prerequisites” like my Spider-Man/PS5 predicament is a problem I find all too often in my spiritual life as well… the Scriptures are full of beautiful verses promising that the Lord will “give us the desires of our heart” (Psalm 37:4), but there is typically a prerequisite to enjoy those benefits. And in a world that frequently pushes the false narrative that we can have what our heart desires without any sacrifice, it is easy for that same thought process to seep its’ way into our relationship with the Lord. Yes, while it is true that the amazing grace and unmerited favor of the Lord is a free gift that cannot be earned or bought (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:23-26), that does NOT mean that possessing this free gift gives us access to the benefits of a committed relationship with Him without our fulfillment of HIS prerequisites first…

Psalm 37:4-5 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

While our access to the throne of grace has been fully and freely purchased through Christ’s sacrifice (Hebrews 4:16), receiving the answers to our prayers in the timeframe or the manner we would prefer is not as simple as raising our voice to heaven and waiting for the Lord to send us what we desire through DoorDash. As a matter of fact, as countless saints have found through the years, the Lord’s responses can often come later than we had hoped (Daniel 10), differently than we had asked for (Deuteronomy 8:3), or answered with an undesired “no” or “not yet” (Acts 16). And while it is true that sometimes the Lord’s responses to our cries are delayed for a reason, there is also an area of responsibility that WE own to see the desires of our heart come to pass as found in both the Old and New Testament… to delight ourselves in the Lord and seek His kingdom FIRST. Not because following the Lord is merely a pathway to getting what we want, but because a relationship with Him IS our heart’s desire. As a matter of fact, it is more than just good advice for seeing answers to our prayers… it is a commandment. And throughout the Bible it is made clear that while the Lord delights in giving good things to His children (Matthew 7:11, James 1:17), He has an expectation of being placed FIRST in our hearts, minds, and lives… and without meeting that prerequisite, my prayers are as hopelessly misaligned with Him as me purchasing a PS5 copy of Spider-Man 2 and placing it into my Xbox Series X hoping it will load it. The disc itself has all of the capabilities of displaying and running the game it contains… but I can’t place it into a different console that runs on an entirely different operating system and expect it to work.

Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.

John 15:4-7 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 

When seeking answers to our prayers in life, we have an honest question we have to ask ourselves… are we trying to force a PS5 experience to happen in a different console simply because it is what we already possess and how we would prefer to receive it? The reality is that the Spider-Man series of games are not coming to Nintendo or Xbox now or at anytime in the future… they were designed for a Sony console by a Sony internal studio the same way that the Master Chief shows up exclusively on Microsoft and PC platforms and Mario only parties on a Nintendo console. There is a prerequisite to enjoying the ongoing adventures of Peter Parker and Miles Morales… I am going to have to accept the reality that if I want to play this game as well as any future releases in this series, I am going to have to get myself a PS5. And along those same lines, there is only ONE WAY to enjoy the answers to the prayers we are currently sending up to the heavens… we must be willing to exclusively play the game on the Lord’s operating system (John 14:6). This moves us beyond simply believing in Him and into truly PURSUING Him and possessing a real relationship with Him… not because that is a “means to an end” so we can receive the answers to our prayers, but because a relationship with Him and following His will for our life IS the answer to our prayers. And the omniscient Lord who knows our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7) better than we do can see into our deepest, hidden inner motives as well as through the end of our story to ensure that the “good gifts” that He gives us meet HIS criteria for “good”… a standard that is far higher than we can comprehend on this side of eternity (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The Lord isn’t preventing us from having good things when He doesn’t immediately snap His fingers and give us the answers to our prayer… He is simply following His promise to exclusively reward those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). And He isn’t punishing those who haven’t chosen to pursue Him by ignoring their cries for help… He is allowing those desires and needs to bring them to the place of realizing their need for a Savior and coming to Him so they can have the BEST things instead of simply settling for poor material substitutes of no eternal value (Matthew 11:28-30). Sony isn’t punishing or excluding anyone by delivering Spider-Man 2 on the PS5… they are simply enticing the entire gaming audience to upgrade with an amazing game that was EXCLUSIVELY designed to run on this platform. Sure, the initial investment will be steep… commitments usually are. And it won’t be the last investment we will have to make… sure the PS5 is here now, but there was also a 1, 2, 3, 4, in the past so it stands to reason there will be more in the future, all coming at a cost. But this is the same principle that Christ was speaking of when He told us to “count the cost” before choosing to follow Him in Luke 14:25-33… to receive all that our Father has for us, we must be prepared to accept it on His EXCLUSIVE terms and make the commitment to pursue Him with all of our hearts. So, if we truly want the answers to our deepest and most intimate prayers, the reality is that they can only be found in a deeper and more intimate relationship with the One who does more than simply answer our prayers… He IS the answer to our prayers. And when we are willing to lose ourselves in the pursuit of Him, it is then and ONLY then that we find EVERYTHING we were looking for.

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