What’s Fishdom, you ask? It’s a game I’ve been playing on my phone, and it’s really fun – a gem swap game plus virtual aquarium, with chatty fish even! What’s not to like :)
But what’s this got to do with Jesus, I hear you ask – why am I comparing him to this game?
Ok, here’s the thing: for each level in this game you have a set of tasks to complete – stuff like smashing all the tiles, in a limited number of moves. You can’t move up to the next level without achieving all that – which, of course, means you often have to keep trying again and again and again…
A bit like real life, your success depends on a combination of stuff you can control and stuff you can’t – it’s not only about how skilled you are at smashing tiles, but nor is it only a question of what order the gems are in. It’s both/and.
When I do manage to complete a level, I get congratulated on my success – not just by the message that comes up on the screen telling me I’ve cracked that level, but also by the chatty fish! Yes, really! They swim around in the virtual aquarium, with speech bubbles saying things like: well done! we knew you could do it!
But when I fail – when I run out of moves – I get this message saying: Try again.
Which is the bit that got me thinking about Jesus.
Because, you see, it would be so depressing if it worked like this – if when you run out of moves, when your life ends, if you didn’t do everything you should have done you’d have to go back and try again. And again. And again. And again. If you just couldn’t ever get to heaven without achieving perfection, without living up to all that God expects of you, without doing it right and dotting all the “i”s and crossing all the “t”s.
I’m so glad Jesus doesn’t take that approach. I’m so glad that through his sacrifice I know I can get to heaven when I die and not have to keep trying, and failing, and trying, and failing, and never making it, never being good enough – I’m so glad that through his sacrifice I get to level up even though I didn’t complete all my tasks, I get to level up and go to heaven when I run out of moves, because, guess what, someone has already done it and I get the credit!
The game doesn’t show me grace, it doesn’t care about me, it’s an impersonal thing that was programmed a certain way and it only does what it was programmed to do. Jesus though… He loves me. He loves us. He loves humanity so much that he went to the cross and died a horrible, painful, agonising death so that we won’t have to suffer the punishment we all deserve.