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  • Writer's pictureFaith & Fandom

Grand Theft Worship: Mission Failed

I’m not even gonna pretend I’m a diehard “GTA” guy. Up until “5” I’ve never even finished half a “GTA” game. Once the novelty wore off and I had to start doing “work,” I gave up. GTA V just hit at the right time, with the right presentation to cause me to see it through. While I could spend hours discussing the zany antics of Michael, Trevor, & Franklin, I think I’ll stay on topic. The game was so lush, so well laid out, that you truly could lose yourself in it. Then out of nowhere the screen would turn black and state “MISSION FAILED,” and tell you why. That snapped you back out to reality.

Much like when in my first time driving Trevor’s truck, I kept killing Wade or when I tried to hijack the helicopter. I saw that black screen way too many times. Somewhere amidst the times I was really sucking, the thought occurred to me, “How refreshing would it be alerted when we were failing?” Like literally when we made a mistake in life we didn’t have to wait days, weeks, or years to find out the consequences. Or, even better, that we not only were told we had failed, but were given the opportunity to retry. “Mission Failed: You were just totally a jerk to your wife. Retry?” The real show stopper is that if you keep failing a certain mission, it gives you the opportunity to just skip that challenge. “Mission Failed: You did not pass 3 of your college courses. Skip Mission?”

This trail of thought stayed on my mind but really hit me on a Sunday morning. As a pastor I have no idea usually when something I do is a success or a failure. Quite often we never hear back on our efforts and are just kind of left guessing. Oddly enough my failures in this area aren’t that hard to miss. I pretty much know that when I lose my cool with my youth group, or fail to show grace to that college kid who is wearing my patience thin, or when I develop bitterness to an older member who is following man over God. I know frequently the areas I fail. Still I wouldn’t mind a reminder.

What I would really love is the success acknowledgement. In a “GTA” mission that you don’t completely screw up, the screen will display “Mission Passed.” Not only does it tell you that you passed, it gives you a full chart breakdown of what you did, how well you did and what you had the chance to do but didn’t. It even gives you a medal ranking. That I would love. At the end of a sermon to just see

“SERMON PASSED : Preached the gospel clearly [x] Only 7 out of 250 fell asleep [x] Received 3 “Amen’s” [x] Ranking [ Silver ]”

That would eliminate some of the wondering. Truly though, you can spend decades in ministry planting seeds and not actually see what grows from it. That’s okay; I mean you don’t serve in order to see the results. You serve to obey God (although a mission summary every now and then wouldn’t hurt). I feel that overall the American church would see more black failure screens than successes.

Worship Failed: God wasn’t invited and you were lying ( ). Sermon Failed: Message was spoken in bitterness ( ). Fellowship Failed: Your brother carried his burdens alone ( ) God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.-John 2:24

But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.–Ephesians 4:15

(Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ-Galatians 6:1-2 ).

Leadership Failed: You were judging people you had no authority to ( )

Often times we actually do have this happen in the form of critical people, or those that complain, but really the responsibly to examine ourselves lies on us.

For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? But God judges outsiders. Put away the evil person from among yourselves.-1 Corinthians 5:12-13 But test all things. Hold on to what is good.- 1 Thessalonians 5:21

This scenario I mentioned actually will take place. Instead of it happening with each instance in our life, it will happen only once. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and will either get the equivalent of “MISSION FAILED” or “MISSION SUCCESS.” Jesus shares this concept with us in Matthew 25 very clearly, somberly, but clearly; “31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels[ with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger

and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’ 40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t take Me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of Me.’44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I don’t share this thought to be dramatic or as an end to a means, but this is just where my heart went. It’s one thing to fail in a game when you get to the opportunity to retry, or skip, but how sad would it be for us to truly fail at life, and to be presented that outcome as we stand before God.

Be grateful for the moments you get to retry, realize nothing good comes of skipping the challenges, and please never choose to quit.



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