If I were to ask you what role ‘video games’ have played in our culture, what would come to mind? Whether it be creating new controversies or providing a depiction of the future, video games has been a productive avenue for creativity, excellence and storytelling for quite some time.
None have been praised more than the recent ‘Grand Theft Auto V’, which released to critical acclaim in 2013 but still continues to be very popular due to the sheer number of things that can be done, effectively giving the player the freedom to do whatever they want in-game. In short, the game has an open virtual world, where players are free to participate in missions, interact with other characters as well as to engage in various sports and other activities.
It is also likely that you have heard that much controversy surrounds the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Since its iteration in 1997, it has been scrutinised for its depiction of violence, the trivialisation of law enforcement, objectification of women and excessive vulgarity. Many of its titles were even banned in Australia, until they were modified to meet Australian regulations on particular aspects.
Nonetheless, games such as these highlight a very human definition of ‘Freedom’ – where we are able to do what we want – when we want to, without repercussion. It could be said that this is reflected in the ever-changing nature of our society – examples being the legalisation of recreational drugs in the US, as well as pressure on countries to adopt the lawfulness of gay marriage.
But let’s take a step back and revisit the word ‘Freedom’. It’s often when we talk about freedom in our relatively safe, happy society in Brisbane that freedom has been afforded to us in multitudes. We are free to choose what we want to eat, who our friends are, what we watch – freedom is almost trivial for us – just stay within the laws set by society. But as Christians who do not belong to this world, but have been chosen by God out of the world (John 15:19), what is our freedom?
As Christians, our journey has begun with the acknowledgement that the sins we have committed are forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – We are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), and thus from God’s condemnation and wrath.
Through Christ, we have been afforded freedom from sin unconditionally. We have a new life in Jesus, and are called to live as Jesus did (John 2:6). One of the things that is evident that Jesus did well, was being able to discern between right or wrong within the context of culture. What we can demonstrate is a goodness of thoughts and actions that are alert to that of our culture and society that does not seek self-righteousness in the process. Through our prayers, and in our honest attempts to seek the glory of his Kingdom, the freedom that we have been given by Christ will undoubtably manifest in our heart, our soul and in our mind.
I encourage you to consider the freedoms afforded to you in your life today, and reflect on the thoughts and actions you can take to respond to this freedom that you have been given by the grace of our Lord.
— Victor Koh