Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Game of Life Isn't

Life, for a lot of people, really is like Monopoly. People have their preferences. Some like the race car. Others want the thimble. Everyone has a niche. A thing. A game piece molded into a tiny idol. They go around and around trying to win more stuff than their neighbors while also hoping to avoid penalties and prison. When the game is over, they want to be the one who owns the bank and the board.

What then?

It's still a lot like Monopoly. The game ends. The board is folded up and placed in a box. All the houses and hotels slide off the board and into a bag. All the property cards are rubber-banded together and placed in a plastic holder. The winner realizes all that he or she has won is fake. All that paper money and all those property cards mean nothing in the end. You can't take them with you.

The luck of the dice and the legs of skilfull ability can only take a person so far. Then comes the end. And in the end, it will not matter what you've accomplished or accumulated. Your lifeless arms will be folded and your body will be placed in a box. Game over.

Or is it?

Have you ever played a game with someone who changed the rules for his or her own benefit? Penalties that applied to you did not apply to them for some obscure reason. Rewards that advanced them did not advance you.

Funny how people like to shape their own realities with nothing to go on but their own selfishly-shaped perceptions. It is most obvious when you talk to them about "Game Over."

Ask them what happens when you die and you will hear about heaven, nirvana, reincarnation, and a few who believe you just stop existing altogether.

They've created a monopoly world and changed some of the squares. They don't like the idea of hell, so they cut and paste "Free Parking" over it. They don't like some of the truths in the Bible, so they remove those verses from the card pile.

Oh, but they like heaven. So, all four corners of their board lead to heaven.

How would you feel if you were the creator of the game, the writer of the rules, the placer of the squares, and you made your game public only to find everyone else manipulating your monopoly?

Probably the same way Elizabeth Maggie Phillips felt. Lizzie, a Quaker, invented a game board in 1903 and called it "The Landlord's Game." The purpose of Lizzie's game was to teach people how monopolies end up bankrupting the many while giving extraordinary wealth to one person. It was intended to illustrate the negative aspects of greed.

People started playing her game and it had the opposite impact on them. Instead of teaching them to beware of greed, it fed their greed. They liked winning. They enjoyed taking everyone else's property and money. Others took her idea and redeveloped it into Monopoly. Wikipedia calls Monopoly "the domination of a market by a single entity."

Can you imagine how Lizzie felt?

God can.

God made life, created the players, wrote the rules, and placed the truths of eternity squarely into reality. He put the cards in the pile that say, "Do not..." He filled the board with good things and gave clear instructions on how to find them and how to avoid the bad things. And even when bad things were inevitable and the players needed a helping hand, God put His own Son into the game. Jesus is the "Get out of hell free" card of life.

But we keep trying to change His rules. We keep editing what He has written. We keep sticking temporary labels over permanently etched facts.

There is an enormous difference between Lizzie and God that you need to know about. Lizzie was powerless to stop the manipulation of her creation. In fact, she even succombed to it and republished her game to take advantage of everyone's greed and accumulate her own.

God is not powerless. You can try to rewrite the game all you want. You cannot erase what He has written. Cancel hell on your board. But it will still be on God's board. What God calls sin on His board will still be punishable no matter what you've called it on yours.

God loves you. Because He does, He wants you to know the truth. And it doesn't matter if your name is Rich Uncle Pennybags with your little moustache, smoking jacket, walking cane, and top hat --- Only the truth can set you free.

This isn't a game.

No comments: