Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In the last chapter of The Hero and the Dragon: Building Christian Character through Fantasy Fiction, I recognized the fact that many secular stories, movies, and games contain wonderful, virtuous elements – even if the source itself is not “Christian”. I recently discovered one such example in a rather surprising place: the video game series of “Halo”. I certainly would not say that these games are something I would promote for the development of Christian character in young people, since the theme of the series is violent combat (although against clearly evil, non-human threats) and some of the characters use language that is not exactly Christ-like (although this improves throughout the series). However, despite these shortcomings, there is a shining star in the midst of these games that provides an incredible example of faithfulness, hope, patience, endurance, humility, and a willingness to sacrifice everything for those around him – even those who hate him.
The main character of the series is known as Master Chief. Only a few know him by his real name and officer number: John 117. This is our first glimpse of the hero behind the mask in this series. John 1:17 in the Bible says, “ For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The alien forces who threaten mankind in this series are known as “The Covenant”. While we know that the old covenant under the Law of Moses could promise only death for sinful man, it was Jesus Christ who saved us by overcoming sin, death and the devil through His death and resurrection, establishing a new covenant through His blood. Halo players quickly surmise that Master Chief is the only hope humanity has against the alien threat which promises destruction for all mankind. When he appears on the scene, the hopeless, demoralized, embattled troops of earth know that with him, there is life and hope.
Master Chief is never once arrogant or proud, despite knowing that he is all that stands between human beings and utter extinction. He moves steadily onward, never neglecting his duty for our sake. In John 11:7, Jesus turns to His disciples and tells them that the time has come for him to return to Judea. They try to prevent Him, reminding Him that His enemies are waiting there to kill Him. But the Son of God knows that His path leads to Jerusalem and Golgotha, and nothing will stand the way of His accomplishing the mission for which He was sent. Likewise, Master Chief is marked by a character of pressing ever onward, even when his path means certain death for himself. No matter the cost, he will complete his mission to save humanity.
There are so many rich elements that we could connect with as Christians in this story that I suspect someone on the game’s writing staff must have been a Christian. A new threat is introduced soon into the game, a vicious, all-consuming race of parasites known as “The Flood”. The key to humanity’s survival from this new threat lies in a hidden place called – you guessed it – “The Ark”.
As Master Chief travels on through the series and resolves each crisis toward humanity in turn, many look to him for hope in the darkest of times, trusting him to save them as they know only he can. However, there are those who doubt him. In fact, there are even those who hate him. They reject him as the hero who will save mankind and even seek to get rid of him. His response? He fights with all the more determination to save those who have spurned him.
For this Good Friday Video Game Spotlight, I want to present my readers with a description of a scene that I think you will recognize. The forces of evil have gathered thickly upon a bleak hill outside a city. It appears the battle has turned against our Hero. As his body is lifted for all to see, his followers cry out in despair. How can this be? He was our only hope, the only one who could save us! As they gaze upon his lifeless form, all courage vanishes. Some beat the ground in hopeless rage. Others flee in terror now that their annihilation is certain, pursued closely by the monsters who seek to devour them. Some simply hang their heads in anguish and await the inevitable end. From the host of evil, a triumphant tumult arises. The Hero is defeated.
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