Not only do my sons and I play video games, but sometimes my wife joins in, as well. Because she doesn’t spend as much time playing games (compared to the rest of us), and because she uses a console instead of PC, she was glad when a certain popular online Battle Royale game added skill-based matchmaking, as well as “bots” (computer-controlled opponents, with limited artificial intelligence). Not only was she able to fend for herself in the matches, but she was also able to learn to play better, and have a chance to figure things out.
Something caught my ear1, though, when she said, “The bots give me confidence.” Sure enough, knowing that she had a fighting chance against the game’s AI meant that she could engage with other characters in the game without fear of immediate elimination. As a result, her scores increased, and her skill level – even with human opponents – scaled up as well. I suspect that this was not just because the bots were a little more predictable than humans (since they are still good enough to take on human players), but also because she had this confidence to push forward.
To be crystal clear, followers of Jesus are not called to eliminate people who don’t agree with them. Jesus not only loved those who had rebelled against the truth (including sinners like you and me), but He heroically sacrificed Himself for the salvation of those who would accept Him. While the battle against evil is real, other people (i.e., souls in need of a Savior) don’t have to be the object of our attacks. Often, they are who we should be fighting for.
As Joshua took over leadership of the Hebrew people upon the death of Moses (see Joshua 1), God gave Joshua some inspiration and instructions:
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NLT
Note that this is not just a command to “do a good job”, or “have a stiff upper lip”. The command to be brave came with a key message behind it: God would be with Joshua. God didn’t throw Joshua into this role without His backing. God didn’t expect Joshua to just put on a fake air of confidence, without justification for doing so. God didn’t throw Joshua into the battle for Canaan without help (as long as the people followed God’s instructions).
In the same way, when we enter into the battle against evil, we might feel like newbies. Satan and his forces have had millennia to practice their unholy skills, and we might think that we are never going to win against that level of experience.
The great news is that we have nothing to fear, though. For one thing, God puts us in the ultimate “matchmaking system”, ensuring that there is always a way for us to win against temptation…in every situation (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).
For another thing, we know that our team is going to win. Yes, the book of Revelation makes that clear (see Revelation 21:1-7, for instance). Even though battles rage back and forth today, the decisive victory will be solely achieved by Jesus Christ, and those following Him can look forward to sharing in the rewards of His achievement.
However, we can also see daily “wins” for the Kingdom of God. As followers of Jesus show His love to others, and God Himself intervenes, then relationships are repaired, hearts are mended, people receive purpose, and communities are made better. These signs of the abundant life (see John 10:10) give us confidence that we, too, can enter the fray and make headway against evil. God’s constant faithfulness gives us the confidence that we can make His Kingdom known in the mortal, fallen world around us. He encourages us to take on battles that we cannot win on our own, but which He – through perfect, loving power – can overwhelmingly conquer (see Romans 8:31-39, or just read that entire chapter).
So, we can forge ahead in the Kingdom of God, knowing that the opposition will be defeated. May we boldly strike at the forces of evil that keep people from the joy of knowing Jesus, not simply in the confidence of our own skills (even though we know that those also come from God), but also in confidence of His ability to win the victory. I suspect that if we follow His leading into battles that we know we can’t win on our own, we’ll find some pretty amazing things as He works. Yes, we might get knocked down from time to time, but remember, the original “rez” came from the author of life, Jesus Christ!
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
- Yes, I checked with her before writing this article. After this many years of marriage, I’ve at least learned a few ways to not get myself in trouble! ↩