I have actively played World of Warcraft for 13 years and counting. My wife and I got married in 2006 and moved into a small apartment in a tiny town that had very little to offer as far as entertainment. Both of us were raised on Blizzard titles, Warcraft and Diablo being the two that we enjoyed the most during our youth, so we naturally gravitated towards playing the MMO that was taking the world by storm; World of Warcraft. The game was already two years old by the time we started playing it, but that did not matter, we found the journey through Azeroth as a way to connect with each other in the real world as well as online. WoW has been in our lives for longer than both of our children, all of our pets, and will continue to be so for as long as the servers stay online. Of course, the love for the game was not always a positive inclusion in our marriage.
My wife and I shared one Blizzard account for years, and this caused many skirmishes within our relationship. We both deleted our account and characters on multiple occasions, as well as choosing to work on our avatars instead of being with each other. To be honest, the game nearly cost us our marriage, but there was something that did save it; moving to a place with no internet. For about three years, my wife and I lived in an area in rural Missouri that did not have high-speed internet, and that made playing World of Warcraft an impossible feat. My relationship with my wife was on the rocks, but it took pulling away from the game to find out what was really important in my life, and then it took a lot of work to restore that relationship with her. Now, being in our 13th year of marriage, my wife and I are closer than ever, and that is because we denied our desires to live selfishly and instead gave each other the time and attention we deserved.
We all have places in which we have damaged our relationships and reputations with others. Over the years my selfish desire to entertain myself led to a rough spot in my marriage which could have easily become a separation (or worse), but both of us came back to together to build up bridges with each other. It reminds me of building a Reputation with other factions in World of Warcraft. There is no other task that is as taxing as gradually increasing one’s reputation with your allies from being Honored, to Revered, and then finally Exalted. It requires patience and daily diligence through questing and other activities to raise one’s Reputation to the highest degree. It is most certainly not easy, but the rewards are worth the time spent.
Just like our relationship in the real world and online can receive a hit from the mistakes that we make in this life, our reputation with God can easily be on the rocks as well. Let’s face it, because of His absolute holiness, He cannot even be around our sin, so to say that we started out with a “good” relationship with God would be false. The moment we sinned, and everyone in this world has done so (Romans 3:23), we ruined our reputation with the living God and brought about His wrath. Nothing that we could do would fix this; we can’t give Him flowers or chocolates to butter Him up, nor can we embark on incredible journeys to earn His favor. We are hopelessly at a loss in our condition, and in order for our reputation to improve, something extraordinary must take place.
At this juncture in the Romans Road, we learn about God’s act to repair the damage that we did with our relationship. You see, God wasn’t the one that stood us up at the altar, we were the ones that turned our backs on Him. Through our sin, we pushed God out of lives and chose to follow what the Bible calls the “prince of the power of the air,” which is Satan, the ruler of nothing. Many of us have seen the fault of this and wish to get reconnected with God, but this cannot happen through our actions alone. Someone must build our reputation up for us.
Of course, the Bible shows us the way:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And weboast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we] also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
There are two concepts within this passage that are worth noting. First off, this passage is looking at the relationship that we now have with God through Jesus Christ because we are justified by faith. Paul used the previous example of Abraham to show how one can be connected to God through faith and not their works alone. He brings the point home by showing all of us that we now have peace with God through Jesus, and that reputation is restored by accessing that relationship through faith.
The second part of this passage is a special bonus to the reputation that we now have with God. As a result of building up our connection with the Lord, we now have access to the personal restoration that He provides. Through working and suffering for God, He, in turn, produces within us perseverance, character, and hope. With a relationship with God comes a stronger connection to our own personal characters and lives.
It is not always easy to build up our reputation with others in this life, and it often takes a great deal of sacrifice on our part to restore the relationships that we lost due to a nearly countless number of factors. Whatever may have happened, thank the Lord that our own reputation with Him does not hinge on any actions that we made ourselves. Our reputation with God is based on our relationship with His Son.