Friday, March 4, 2011

The Gospel According to Earthbound

Hey everyone. I wrote this for an online Video Game Network that I am a member of. Hopefuly it helps shed light on the truth of Jesus. I think it is fun that God is wanting to use all things to draw people to Him. He is even using video games. Feel free to ask me anything you like about it. I hope you enjoy!

The Gospel According to Earthbound(Revealing how events in Earthbound relate to salvation through Jesus Christ)

To many players Earthbound serves as a reflection and as a reminder of what is important in life. When some play the game they are reminded of the power of friendship, wisdom and courage. To others it reminds them of the “good old days.” A time where living was innocent, fun and without the demands of life that we face in our present day and age. For me when I think about Ness, Earthbound and the different elements in the game I think about Jesus, his life and what he has done for mankind. I believe that this great story can be used to tell an even greater story. In this article I am simply reviewing parts of Earthbound and then comparing it to the life of Christ. I am going to attempt to convey the similarities I see between the two in order to show that possibly God is wanting to use Earthbound to draw people to himself. I respect the fact that many readers of this article might not be Christian. I am open to hear your thoughts on anything I have put in here or anything that I might have left out.

It is plain to see that throughout the Mother series song, prayer and faith are used as channels to release power against darkness. Could these spiritual elements have been put in the game so players could be pointed to a higher being? Was Earthbound intentionally released by Nintendo so people could be led to Christ? Honestly, probably not. In fact Shigesato Itoi lives in a predominately Buddhist nation, possibly is a Buddhist and the game is filled with elements that reflect religions other than Christianity. Not to mention the fact that Ness and his crew are often doing things that don’t necessarily seem “Christian.”Honestly I don’t know enough about Itoi to say what his intentions were (if any at all) in putting elements of faith into his creation. One thing I am confident in is this, when I think about Earthbound I am reminded so much of the life of Jesus and what he has done for the people of Earth.

Let’s revisit Earthbound looking at specific events that I will later compare to events in Jesus’s life. Before Ness even entered onto the scene “The Apple of Enlightenment” predicted that The Chosen Four would come and defeat Giygas. This would save Earth from annihilation and make Ness the great savior for mankind. In the beginning of Ness’s adventure a creature from afar by the name of Buzz Buzz came as a messenger announcing to Ness his significant destiny. After much travel and adventure Ness paired up with Paula and then Jeff. In the beginning of Poo’s journey, he underwent spiritual training before uniting with his team. Poo is tested as he discerns truth and denies self-gratification. Once his series of temptations are over he then meets his team.

The Chosen Four did many great things that helped a number of people. Their conflict was not against people but was against the evil that influenced the individuals. They tenaciously fought against evil minions in the form of demons, aliens and robots sent by Giygas so that people could be protected. They delivered people from evil possession; they helped solve problems and truly cared about those they came across. The team also helped one another by using powers of physical healing and the ability to revive unconscious teammates. Their love for another was evident in all they did.

Throughout the journey The Chosen Four searched out locations called “Your Sanctuary” where they found peace, quite, reflection and renewal after they defeated the evil that initially inhabited the location. Without going to these locations the team would not have the power to defeat evil. After discovering all eight “Your Sanctuary” spots Ness then went deep inside his mind, into Magicant where he faced his worst fears. The very core of Magicant is the Sea of Eden which held a great evil. This evil had the appearance of the Mani Mani statue, the evil that resided since the near beginning of the game. Once Ness faced and defeated his own nightmare he then reunited with his friends in order to defeat the very essence of evil, Giygas.

To defeat Giygas Ness and his team had to transform from human to robot. This took great courage and humility when they chose to become less than themselves taking the very nature of a machine. Going from a person to a robot is an act of humility. This is so because of the superiority that humans have to metallic objects. Choosing to not stay human but taking the nature of a robot was a key element in the defeat of Giygas.

The prayers of the people around the world led to the end of the rein of evil in the lives of the people of Earth. Paula would pray initiating with their friends and followers worldwide who would then respond to this urge within them to pray. This unity in prayer brought a defeat to Giygas. People were no longer in bondage to the evil that once possessed them. The heroes were then resurrected, crossed over space and time to be brought back to their Earthly bodies. The world had become a better place as Ness and friends became the saviors of the world just as the prophecy had predicted.

Now let’s look at the life of Jesus in relations to the Earthbound story above. A prophecy about The Chosen Four defeating evil was declared many years before Ness and his team even walked the Earth. Many prophecies were stated hundreds of years about Jesus before he was born. The prophet Isaiah declared that that Jesus would deliver the world from sin and it’s evil (Isaiah 53:5). “The Apple of Enlightenment” predicted that The Chosen Four would deliver the world from evil. It was an “apple” that “enlightened” the first man and first woman of evil, sin and death (Genesis 3). Soon after they were enlightened God provided a way to cover their shame with the skin of a sacrificed animal (Genesis 3:21). This sacrifice was the first prophecy that pointed to Jesus who would be the great sacrifice for all of mankind’s shame, sin and evil. The story of Jesus and Earthbound both have a prophetic message that begins with an “apple” that “enlightens.”Both these messages are of deliverance from evil for mankind.

Worth noting are a couple similarities between the beginning portion of The Chosen Four’s adventure and the start of the journey of Jesus. The long traveled Buzz Buzz announced Ness’s significant destiny so did the angel Gabriel announce the significant of Jesus to his mother Mary (Luke 1:30-38). Poo underwent trials and temptations where he was challenged with distractions and that of denying himself. Poo passed this test with flying colors as he stayed focus on the task at hand. A similar incident happened with Jesus as he fasted for forty days without food or water in the wilderness. Satan tempted him with distractions that would satisfy Jesus’s momentary needs but Jesus refused to give in to any temptations. Jesus passed his test flawlessly just as Poo did. The incident Jesus triumphed over was proof that he never sinned even under temptation (Luke 4:1-13). I am not saying that Poo and Jesus were fasting, mediating and were under temptation for the same reason or purpose. Dalaam appears to be a Buddhist nation and Poo’s Mu training had more Buddhist influence than Christian by obvious observation. If Poo was real he would most likely be a Buddhist not a Jew or a Christian. The point I want to make is that both the fictional character Poo and the historical character Jesus were tempted but did not fall for the temptation.

As stated earlier The Chosen Four lived a life that helped and loved people. They did not fight against people but they fought against the evil that inhabited the individuals. The same is true for the life of Jesus. He loved people and it showed by his actions, words and life. He cared about people’s well being, delivering them from the control of evil just as Ness and his crew did. Jesus miraculously fed the hungry, healed the sick, controlled the weather and raised the dead (all similar to situations happening in Earthbound). His abilities were used to show his power, to help others, defeat evil and to show others that he can be trusted (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). These are similar reasons The Chosen Four had when using their special powers.

Jesus entered into sanctuary locations pulling away to be alone so that he could also find peace, quite, reflection and renewal similar to what Ness and his friends did. In Jesus’s sanctuary spots he talked to his father who is in Heaven because he knew that apart from the Father the Son can do nothing (John 5:19). I see a similarity here. Jesus cannot destroy the work of Satan apart from his father. Ness being apart from his sanctuary spots can do nothing in defeating Giygas.

In Magicant Ness had to face his fears. Jesus had to face great agony as he waited in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. Note that both Ness and Jesus had to do this alone, with no one by their sides. Jesus being fully God and fully man knew that being killed was going to be painful. He faced and defeated this nightmare as he chose to accept what needed to be done without backing down (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46). In the center of the Sea of Eden was Ness’s Nightmare in the form of the Mani Mani statue. The statue was a symbol of evil that existed since the near beginning of the game. It had wicked influence on people throughout Earthbound. In the Bible, sin and its evil influence on man began in the center of the Garden of Eden when man and woman chose to disobey God. Jesus came to destroy the origins of evil just as Ness destroyed an icon that represents the origin of evil for the people of Earthbound. Both of these evils have ties with the Garden and the Sea of Eden. Coincidence? I think not. Hold on tight for this next part. Ness went into Magicant to face his nightmare that “represents” the origin of evil. Overcoming it would allow him to move forward in seeing evil delivered from the world just as “The Apple of Enlightenment” had predicted. Now let’s parallel it with Jesus. He went into Gethsemane where he faced the nightmare of being the sacrifice for the destruction of the origin of evil which is sin. Accepting the fact of his life as a sacrifice without refusal allowed him to move forward in seeing evil delivered from the world just as the original prophecy stated. Remember this is the prophecy that occurred in the Garden of Eden immediately after the “apple” was eaten that brought the “enlightenment” of sin and death (Genesis 3:21). In the center of Eden stands the ultimate nightmare the protagonists must face; their sacrifice for the purpose of delivering people from evil, which has been prophesied over their lives since the dawn of the ages!

The Chosen Four was able to enter into the battle against “The Devil’s Machine” because they took on the nature of a machine. Jesus was able to enter into the battle with the devil because he took on the nature of man. Ness and company went from humans to robots. They went from a superior being to an inferior structure for the fate of mankind. The Chosen Four doing this had much humility and tremendous amounts of courage. Jesus did not become a robot. However, he did make a decision that caused him to take on an inferior nature. This took great humility and courage similar to what The Chosen Four displayed when they took on the nature of a robot. Jesus “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7). He went from fully God seated in the Heavenly realms to being God found with the appearance of a man living on Earth (Philippians 2:5-9). Going from the all powerful creator of the Universe to becoming a “seemingly” common everyday man takes much humility. Being put to death, defeating Satan and then being raised to life takes tremendous courage. Both Jesus and The Chosen Four took on the nature of something more inferior to what they previously were.

In Earthbound the prayers of the people around the world was the “final x-factor” leading to the defeat of Giygas. This caused the world to be free from its evil influence and the bondage it put on people’s lives. Everyone was able to get this free gift of deliverance whether they wanted it or not. However in the Christian faith it is different in one aspect but also similar to the Earthbound situation in another aspect. It’s different in that Jesus does not force anyone to receive this free gift of salvation but instead each individual must choose to accept it or not. It is similar in both Earthbound and in real life in that there is an “initiation” and a “response” that serves as the “final x-factor”. Paula initiated by praying, hoping for a response. In one way she was saying “Here we are, we want to defeat evil. Do you want it also? If so let us know. Please let us know!” With Jesus there is also an “initiation” and a “response.” He is saying “Here I am, I have defeated evil. Do you want to be free from it? If so let me know. Please let me know!” (Romans 10:9) In both the game and in reality there is freedom from all evil through this initiation and response system. The initiation is Paula’s plea for prayers and in our case Jesus’s plea for us to go to him (Revelation 3:20). The response that defeated Giygas and his evil was the one that prayed and the response that defeats Satan and all of our sin is the heart that says yes to Jesus’s invitation. If the people that Paula prayed to didn’t responded they couldn’t be saved. If people don’t respond to Jesus they can’t be saved either (John 14:6).

The observations in this article show how Earthbound has similar events and uses certain key words that reflect important concepts in the life of Jesus. As I said from the beginning Shigesato Itoi probably did not make Earthbound to point people to Jesus. However that doesn’t mean the game cannot be used to direct people to him. God wants all people to be drawn to his grace and he is using every possible means to make his love known. He is even using Earthbound.