WARNING: SPOILERS FOR BIOSHOCK 2 BELOW!
What does a typical Sunday look like for you? Does it involve going to church in the morning followed by a family lunch after the service? Is it another day to catch up on work, or is it just a day of rest? According to the Pew Research Center, about 65% of Americans identify as Christian religiously. How many of these folks are truly Christian in the sense of the most basic definition? There are, unfortunately, folks who use the routines of the church as their belief system. They are people who go to church but do not partake in Christianity apart from Sunday service. These people believe that they will have the special golden ticket to enter Heaven’s gates just by participating in the Christian routine. They follow a set of rules, assuming this is enough for Salvation. Is this true, though?
Are these Christian robots who rely heavily on routine able to go to Heaven based solely upon that routine? Examples of this are people in ’90s television shows who go to church for the sake of going to church, who don’t hold the tenets of Christianity closely, and who are more worried about appearances than faith. Standing in stark contrast are those changed by belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. True believers in Jesus take their faith with them everywhere they go, and they actively seek out God’s will in our lives. They have apparent behavioral changes when compared to their robotic counterparts in the church. In His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, Jesus tells us that not all who claim to be Christians enter Heaven. The differences are like the differences between the Big Daddies of Rapture and Delta in Bioshock 2.
Back to Rapture
The underwater city of Rapture in Bioshock 2 shows the contrast between the normal Big Daddies and the playable character, Delta, throughout its narrative. Big Daddies in Rapture have a single job: to protect various little girls called Little Sisters who gather a special substance capable of changing peoples’ DNA to give them superhuman abilities. The Big Daddies have no thoughts of their own; they were programmed to behave this way. Delta, in comparison, is a special Big Daddy.
Programming doesn’t limit Delta, and thus, he has the notable freedom of choice. Delta can choose to save the Little Sisters from their lives in Rapture, or he can destroy them to obtain more Adam for himself. Delta can make different moral choices in the game depending on the situations he finds himself in. He stands apart because he does not submit to the superficial luxury of mindless routine.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” – Matthew 7:21-23
Jesus spoke these words to a crowd during the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew’s Gospel. The statement Jesus made tells us that there are people who claim to be followers of Jesus but have not partaken in the gift of Salvation that Jesus offers. They will not enter the Kingdom of God because of this. The largest group of people who exhibit this during Jesus’ time would be the Pharisees, who used religion as a cloak to show the world how great they were. The Pharisees were more worried about showing off their religion than actually applying their religious principles.
Most people do not have nefarious reasons behind their use of religious routine in our current age. Rather, they follow a dominating culture in the USA that tells them to go to church on Sundays. Going to church keeps them in the flow with their neighbors and offers cultural benefits such as being viewed as a positive person and having fellowship with other folks. Churches are fantastic for meeting and being with other like-minded individuals and being involved with your community, after all.
However, some people in the church just don’t ever accept the gift of Salvation. Like the Big Daddies of Rapture, they fall into a programmed routine. Their routine is harmlessly going to church on Sundays without offering much extra thought into how Christianity should affect their daily lives. Those actions contrast with the saved individual.
What is Salvation?
A person who has accepted the gift of Salvation from Jesus receives the Holy Spirit, who helps to teach and guide us towards God’s will in our lives. Paul states in Galatians 5:22-23 that the Holy Spirit produces select fruits in Christians, “But the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Saved Christians, thus, are markedly different. They have the Holy Spirit guiding them. Much like Delta, they escape the bounds of routine and allow themselves to exude Jesus’s teachings every day of the week.
How do we reach out to these folks? First, we must ensure that we are not drones who follow the routine of religion. Living the teachings of Christ every day is the first step to witnessing to others and breaking through the routines. Next, we must heavily emphasize Salvation in our churches. Preaching feel-good messages about the work of Jesus and Heaven is okay. Still, without the contrast of the consequences of not accepting Jesus’s Salvation gift, there is no urgency for Salvation.
Accomplishing the Mission
Delta understood that he needed to act to save himself and other beings of Rapture. He had to escape the programming of the other Big Daddies to accomplish his mission. As Christians, Jesus has given us a mission to “…make disciples of all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 26:19-20). By exhibiting the changes offered to us by the Holy Spirit and following our mission given to us by Jesus, we can set ourselves apart from the routine of Sunday mornings.
I am praying for all of you. As the year progresses, I hope everyone keeps forging along in life. I want you to know Jesus is with you; He won’t abandon you or forsake you. Remember always to apply Jesus’ teachings daily and be like Delta, not dominated by programmed routine.