My bud Steve Sukkau continues his great series, “A Geek’s Guide to Heaven.” Enjoy!
Have you ever played Sid Meier’s Civilization games? How about the block-building world of Minecraft? If so, Heaven may be more familiar than you think.
So far, in the Geek’s Guide to Heaven series, I have tried challenging our notion that Heaven will be unfamiliar and otherworldly, an existence we could never imagine. Instead, I believe the Bible has made it clear we can imagine, and therefore anticipate our future home and our true destiny as co-rulers of New Earth with Christ.
As Alcorn writes in his book, Heaven, we have a universe to rule, purposeful work to accomplish and friends to accomplish this together. But how exactly does being a geek help?
A Longing for Order
“To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations” (Revelations 2:26)
Have you ever played Civilization? The strategic world building game centers around shaping and ruling almost every aspect of a nation, from the style of government, the placement of your cities, to micromanaging your individual citizens. All of these decisions are in an effort to expand your civilization to greatness from ancient times to the space age.
In the dawn of time, I order my Roman scouts to explore the vast, unknown world. I discover a shallow bay rich with food and mineral resources, and protected by high mountains where I eventually build a humble settlement known as Rome. From my newfound country I begin to develop the technology to advance our culture and dominance across the world.
And it’s downright exhilarating. To bring order to untamed lands, to build towers and roads and watch your people thrive, all of it feeds a deep God-like desire. If we are made in His image, and we were meant to take dominion over the earth, it only makes sense this longing for order is ingrained in us.
In this sinful age, our longing for order also creates the tyrants and oppression that has plagued humanity since biblical times. But this is only a twisted representation of a once pure desire.
And when the curse if fully lifted and the New Earth comes shining from Heaven, forever joining the once separated realms, we will joyfully regain our God-given mandate to rule justly over our territory.
Until then, geeks find an outlet for this frustrated passion in games like Civilization.
A World to Explore
Even as I write this, I look forward to our yearly summer retreats to Auntie Tina’s cabin on the lake. Out there in nature, I can’t help but explore. Like a child I am drawn to the tree line, I want to know what’s past the clearing, what’s down the rocky shoreline.
Then, suddenly coming upon a strange natural formation, or secret cove hidden from view, something leaps inside me. This is beautiful, I want to enjoy this, create a hideout or fort. This feeling is like a free sample of heaven, a demo or trial version of eternity.
Yet, it’s no heaven. The stone is hard; I slip and bruise a shin or cut myself on some rough bark. It’s starting to get dark, I’m cold and I’m afraid. The world is beautiful and enchanting yet as cruel as a thorny rose.
This is why a game like Minecraft can so acutely remind me of heaven. The sandy beach stretches to the horizon, the green hills are inviting beckoning to be explored. A sudden awning leads deep into the earth, a dark chasm just begging to be plumbed.
Other times, a magnificent valley formed of stone blocks created by the random world generator draws my gaze. I walk between the sheer walls filled with wonder and awe.
And here’s the best part: Unlike the jagged stone along the shore by Auntie Tina’s cabin, here in Minecraft I can break down any mineral, and build it again any way I imagine. The possibilities are endless. I create an impenetrable fortress surrounded by a lava moat. I mine the depths of the earth for diamonds and precious stones, lighting the darkness with a trail of torches, exploring caves or carving my own passageways through the mountains.
Creating and exploring the world of Minecraft is a pure joy, one that reveals a God given desire. Or rather, reveals the very nature of God.
Explore. Create. Enjoy.
This is the grand adventure God is calling us into, one that we secretly yearn to live out on this earth, as well as the next.
A Dream More Real
In the anime Sword Art Online, a futuristic game company has released a virtual reality console, one that brings your mind into a lush, exotic world filled with monsters to slay, and treasures to find. Players feel no pain, but spend their time fighting and training to conquer all 100 levels of the digital universe.
At one point, a player remarks that becoming a mighty hero and conquering the achingly beautiful world is all they’ve ever wanted in life. So much so, that it had become more real to them than the grey, mundane existence lived on the other side.
Yet, the great irony is, this grey world and heaven will one day be one in the same. When sin is finally eradicated we will be left with a new, but very familiar earth. The one we’ve always dreamed of, one that peeks through the grey rain curtain of sin from time to time, like a painful reminder of what should be.
You see, geeks have a big advantage when it comes to imagining Heaven; we live and breathe mystical worlds, we long to explore and create, and we look forward to ruling as princes and princesses. We do this everyday in our games, movies and TV shows.
So, how about you?
Have you played a game recently that left an impression of heaven?
Have you seen a movie that enflamed a desire to become a prince or princess?
Share your experience in the comments below!