Can God do better than Destiny 2…?


I have spent a fairly stunning amount of time playing video games.

If you’re not into games, this might go a little over your head. If you are, perhaps you’ll see where I’m coming from. I have sunk extensive hours into gaming, across console and pc. Some have hooked me with a good story – others the story is filler to engaging gameplay. Still others have grabbed me with strong multiplayer, either fighting against other people, or working together either online or split screen on the same sofa.

I’m now 30, with a wife and two children, and while I still dip into games now and then, I simply don’t have the time to sink the hours and hours into them that I used to. And to some extent I feel… like I’m missing out?

Now understand me here – because I don’t think that I personally ought to spending more of my time playing games – but I do want to try and tease out what makes them so attractive to me, and whether I can’t find those same pulls doing something of a little more eternal value.

Case in point, Destiny 2 has just come out, and it is so very appealing to me. It’s a first person shooter in a science fiction setting, and although satisfying to play on your own, what’s most engaging is the multiplayer aspect – teaming up with other people to complete missions together, explore, and muck about. Over time you get stronger, gain new abilities and weapons, and work together to make your way through challenging and complicated battles. The reward for doing so is both the satisfaction of a hard won fight, and the loot that drops from the bosses along the way – stronger guns, better armour and unique items.

If you’re not into gaming, you might struggle to see the appeal – but essentially it’s combining the camaraderie of team sports, the aesthetic appeal and adventure of exploring imagined worlds and exotic locations, and the mercenary hook of accumulating treasure – both for your own satisfaction and for bragging rights with fellow collectors.

I look at all that and it tugs at something in me. I want to explore these environments, see these events, amass that electric loot and laugh about our shared adventures with my friends afterwards. But at the same time, the game is designed for you to pour hundreds and hundreds of hours into it as you make your way through its missions and various game modes – often repeating parts many times in search of rare items and valuable drops. There is no way I can justify the amount of time I would gladly spend playing a game like this – but I’m left with a longing for the kind of experience it offers.

So what’s to be done?

If there’s something in a game that leads to some yearning in me, it’s worth wondering whether there isn’t something in life that it’s simulating. Why do I have those desires, and how did God intend for them to be met? I’d like to consider a couple of those attractive qualities Destiny 2 and games like it carry and see where it leads.

Fighting and winning together

It’s a huge draw to be part of something bigger than yourself. Winning through tough fights together – whether in the board room, the basketball court or the battlefield – creates lasting memories, strengthens bonds of friendship and gives you something you can collectively talk about, laugh about, console one another in afterwards.

As much as I could happily spend hours with friends blasting through missions online, the Bible tells us that the church is engaged in something much more profound, much more worthwhile, and much more spectacular. In Matthew 28, Jesus gives us a commission to share the gospel. It’s a mission that will require discipline, sacrifice, suffering and cost – alongside great joy – to see through. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we’re in a fight – not one against people, but against spiritual powers. It’s a fight that we’re in together, brothers and sister in arms with the body of Christ around the world, and most tangibly with those in our local church.

The Christian life is warfare – and the better we see that, the less we will crave adventure digitally or anywhere else. There is more than enough excitement to be had in pursuing Jesus – seeing the sick cared for and healed, the lonely brought into community, the unloved introduced to a church that carries the Father’s love, and in turn to the Father himself. The battles aren’t typically flashy and colourful – and unlike in the games, they’re rarely over in a couple of hours. But the instant gratification of winning a mission online pales in comparison to the joy of fighting alongside Christian brothers and sisters and seeing the victories Christ leads us to.


Even if you don’t fancy visiting another planet, the appeal of travel and exploration is something most of us can relate to. As with films, games can grant us access to places we might never be able to go otherwise. Whether it’s visiting remote parts of the world, or transporting us to entirely fictional locations. Many films and games have created believable, interesting worlds, some beautiful and some appalling – I think of Avatar, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Star Wars and Halo as only a tiny handful. Games like Destiny allow us to explore remote, exotic, fantastic settings from the comfort of our homes and a very modest price.

I’m not quite sure what the comparison is here – we can certainly still travel and play games to some extent and enjoy that sense of exploration while honouring God. Perhaps it’s just that as a Christian I’m a pilgrim in this life. Like Abraham, I’m looking forward to the city with eternal foundations, the kingdom built by God which defies human power to describe (Hebrews 11:10). I’m waiting for the day when Jesus returns, when all Heaven and Earth is made new. I see the wonderful places people have dreamt up in creative works, but however enticing they seem, I keep coming back to the picture John paints in Revelation 21. The New Jerusalem, the place where God dwells with humanity. Where no sin blots his creation, where nothing is spoiled by war, injustice, murder and poverty.

All the most intricately imagined locations in this life fade into insignificance in comparison with the splendour of that destination. Our explorations leading up to it will seem washed out by comparison with its vibrance. I can happily go without the time spent exploring a thousand splendid game worlds, if by doing so I might find myself one day in that promised kingdom.


The best games know how to hook their audiences – and in the case of games like Destiny 2 it’s particularly with a drip feed of progressively better stuff. There’s always someone with better gear than you, always another rare thing you wish you had, and might find with another few hours play. Often it’s of no actual function or value – a new icon to go next to your name, a different colour for your cloak or a nicer looking helmet. All the same, it keeps us invested in a deeply addictive way.

It’s much like the desire to accumulate newer and better stuff in general – the difference being that in life, the high end things are often simply unattainable, however hard you might work. In games, anyone can get to the top stuff, as long as you’re willing to put the hours in. The rub is, that stuff has a shelf life. Destiny 2 comes out, and nobody cares about Destiny 1 anymore. There are player characters sitting there with thousands of hours invested in them – the rarest gear and most sought after equipment – and they now lie consigned to a digital museum, perhaps never to be played with again.

Jesus was all about the pursuit of newer and better stuff – shinier trinkets, exotic treasures, enviable gear – but with one key difference. In Matthew 6:19-21 he warns us not to store up treasure on Earth, where the moth and rust have their way with it, or even online, where newer and better editions will render your treasures obsolete. Instead he would have us store up treasures in Heaven.

We’re built to work for reward – but the rewards that count are those which persist into eternity. Don’t pour precious hours of your life working for rewards that will delight you for a mere twinkling – pour those hours into the service of the master, and win rewards that, though not yet visible, will outshine your digital trinkets like the midday sun outshines the glare of your warlock voidwalker’s nova bomb, and which will go on gleaming long after the sun sets on your last digital campaign.

Lord, help me to use the time you’ve given me well. At times for rest, and play, and enjoying what creative works you have inspired. Let me know when enough is enough, when it’s time to return to work – whether looking after my children, cherishing my wife, earning a living, fulfilling the great commission in any way. Let me not be distracted, but see this life with pilgrim eyes, investing in the kingdom to come.