Faith & Fandom
Final Fantasy XV: Community, by Timmy Martens
Timmy Martens is someone who has been in my life in various roles for many years now. He started off as one of the most annoying 7 year olds I'd ever met, to being someone I would entrust anything to. I'd proudly take credit for my part in his spiritual growth, as well as his induction into the geekier aspects of the world. Timmy wrote the Fire Emblem chapter for book 3, as well as helped edit it. Timmy now serves as a missionary at CBM Camp Grace in Fairmont, NC. - Hector
If you’ve played any amount of video games, you will know that often times, the main characters are prone to experiencing tons of hardship in their lifetime. Noctis, the main character from our most recent installment of the Final Fantasy world, is no exception. When I began playing FFXV, I half expected that the main character would be some angsty teenager who was grappling with the weight of an arranged marriage and his eventual ascension to the crown. However, I was not expecting the sheer volume of crap to hit the fan once the game started rolling. In a single night, Noctis loses his father and his kingdom. We’re also unsure of the state of his wife-to-be, who Noctis is very much not opposed to marrying. The only thing that he has left are his three friends and protectors (Ignis, Gladio, and Prompto) and his gorgeous car called the Regalia.
So then what do you think happens next? If you are like me, you would probably assume that the next portion of the game is going to be spent embarking on this epic quest to gain enough power to take back your kingdom and save your fiancé, all the while with your friends there to support you and back you up. That is, for the most part, true, but the way that Final Fantasy portrays it’s main character and his relationships was something that I could not have predicted, and this made me think about my own personal community.
I really thought about it when Gladio, the beefy and macho protector man with the big sword that follows you around, aggressively approached Noctis about his sour mood. Even though all of this horrible stuff is happening to Noctis, Gladio straight up says, “I’m sick of your endless whining!” Then, taking Noctis by the collar, he reminds him that, “You’re not the only who’s having a tough time. We’re all on edge.”
I was particularly wowed by how direct Gladio was being, but I also realized in that moment just how much Noctis’s sorrow had been weighing on his friends. It reminded me of the scripture in Galatians 6:2, where it says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” There’s also the passage in Romans 12:15 where we are commanded to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn. All of this plays a big role in living together as a community of believers, and I thought to myself, “How many times have I avoided being around someone because they were mourning?” It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help them, but more because I wanted to give them space so they could work it out on their own.
That isn’t community living. That’s independent and selfish living. We’re not called to give people enough space for them to figure it out on their own, but to do live together with our brothers and sisters in the faith. It means having some tough conversations, because the truth is that when we are together, our actions don’t just affect ourselves anymore. That’s how community works.
I love how in Final Fantasy XV everyone has their own roles, and they fit them perfectly. Noctis likes to fish, and truth be told, I rarely used his skill. Ignis is the cook of the group, and he knows how to cook up a storm to give you and your mates awesome buffs to help in the coming battles that day. Gladio is good at survival skills, and he’s the one who loots everything after a battle. Finally, Prompto is the resident goofball who takes pictures during the game, and at camp each night you can choose to keep a couple to save for later.
In your own personal community, you have a role that you fill. Maybe it’s not the most glamorous one (like Noctis’s fishing), but communities work so much better when everyone uses their skills and abilities as they fight toward their common goal. As Christians, we should all be fighting to make Jesus’s name great over all the world, and we do that by taking God’s passions that He has planted in our life and nurturing them with God’s Word within our community. We see this demonstrated in 1 Corinthians when the author gives us guidance in how to use our talents and abilities together in the church. Everyone is essential in doing their own part so that the body of Christ can function.
The game unfortunately does not get any happier. About two-thirds into the story, your fiancé sacrifices herself for your cause. She dies in your arms, and it’s actually pretty awful. You also find out that your follower, Ignis, lost his eyesight. The group then decides to stop in Tenebrae in order to recoup from the recent losses. Do you have the chance to be mopey? Not according to Gladio. In an even more confrontational manner, he gets into your face and says that you need to stop being angsty, own the fact that life sucks, and pay heed to Ignis who was wounded in battle. He says that there’s no time to stop in Tenebrae and that they need to get back to the missions.
Yeah, maybe Gladio wasn’t being the most sensitive there, but he also makes another good point. With such an important mission before us, we don’t have the luxury of taking a moment every time something bad happens. One of the reasons we have community is so that we can push through the hard times with each other and carry on.
In the end, there isn’t a happy ending. You find out that Noctis, from his first heart beat, was destined to die in order to save his country. There was no getting around it. That was his mission from the very beginning, and even though he may not have realized it from the beginning, he definitely gets it towards the end of the game. The typical whiny young prince is replaced by this grown man who understands the sacrifice that he has to make and willingly takes the pain to finally put an end to the darkness that has covered the land.
It’s rather epic, and it does remind me of Christ’s sacrifice for us. But honestly, I don’t want to compare Noctis with Jesus. I want to focus more on Noctic’s friends. As Noctis goes in to finish with the last boss battle of the game, your friends guard the entrance to the castle. We assume later, when Noctis is floating in the sky and taking on the big bad guy (I know, it’s a little sketch in the end), that his friends die and lend him strength in order to finally win. I was really hoping that they would survive and see the new world that they had worked so hard for, but alas, they died protecting each other.
John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Now there probably isn’t going to come a point in your life when you have to literally die for your friends like Noctis’s did. I mean, it could happen, but the chances of your friends having to battle hordes of monsters and beasts are pretty low. However, there are times when community calls for sacrifice. Sometimes, it means taking time out of a busy schedule to sit with someone and talk about nothing particularly important. Sometimes it means helping someone move out of their home, and you’re the guy with the truck. I’m not saying that it’s going to happen, but being willing to lay down our lives for each other is the kind of love that we need.
That’s the same kind of love that Christ poured out for his Church. Even when we were whiny brats, he still sought to sacrifice his life on the cross so that we could be together with him forever. Since our goal is to be like Christ, that means I have to be willing to sacrifice my comfort for the sake of those around me.
In the end, Noctis has the option to save a photo that he brings with him to his death. It’s a beautiful scene, because I chose a picture with everyone in it. You see this empty throne that belongs to the late Noctis, and on it is the picture of the community that brought him through it. It’s a fitting end, because there’s no way to get through that game alone. On that same token, there’s no way to get through this journey of life if you’re doing it alone.