For the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of gaming on my phone. A couple months back I downloaded Shining Force, one of my favorite Sega Genesis games. It had been ported to iOS but I didn’t play it that much because my iPhone 4S couldn’t handle it. Since getting an iPhone 6, though, I’ve been playing Shining Force a lot.
Shining Force is fairly generic in terms of its story and gameplay. An evil nation wants to release Dark Dragon and only a young hero and his band of friends can stop it. The game employs simple turn-based strategies and archetypical character classes like knights, mages and healers. The game does offer a promotion system, which adds a layer of depth not found in other games of that era.
In an effort to exploit the promotion system I have been doing a lot of grinding in Shining Force. In order to gain as much experience as possible I have replayed numerous levels. Even when each character was only getting a few experience points for defeating weaker enemies, I still persevered. Grinding out those experience points may not be fun, but it does produce dividends.
Unfortunately our spiritual growth is a lot like grinding in a video game. Yesterday I wrote about how our spiritual transformation is like that of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Unlike a caterpillar, though, our transformation doesn’t take place over the course of a few days. We have to grind out our transformation, working out our salvation as Paul wrote. And no matter how much we grind, there will always be something new to learn or a little more transformation to be had.
Reader Mike shared that he wishes spiritual formation was a “one and done” process like that of the caterpillar. The caterpillar only has to cocoon itself once and it becomes a butterfly. Our spiritual transformation isn’t a one and done process, though. It’s a lifelong journey that can be frustrating at times but ultimately rewarding.
My Shining Force characters only reached their full potential because of some good old-fashioned RPG grinding. And we’ll only reach our full potential in Christ if we keep partnering with the Holy Spirit and his transforming work in our lives. We need to continue practicing all those spiritual disciplines, which till the soil of our lives and allow the Holy Spirit to bear fruit in us. It may not be as easy as emerging from a cocoon, but it will position us to be more like Jesus and to accomplish more for God’s kingdom.
What helps you keep grinding out your salvation?