What Do Horror Games Have To Do With Conquering Fear Like Jesus?

I shared the following message with my home church family on Saturday night. It started with this hilarious video that’s great for both horror fans and horror haters. Please enjoy:

I love the part where the interviewer calls The Evil Within a calming respite from the terrors of everyday life.

So what’s one thing you’re actually afraid of?

We hauled six teenagers with us to church. Then after watching that video, I asked them what really terrifies them. A lot of them said they were afraid of losing the ones they love. Many of our grown adults shared that sentiment.

I’m terrified of starting a business. It’s something that’s freaks me out because I know that 75% of businesses fail. The moment I say I’m starting a business involving video games, it hits me: that’s too good to be true. And that scares me more than any kind of horror. Because it’s real. And risky.

Did you know Jesus got terrified too?

I made three of our teenagers the Bible Readers for the evening. We read Luke 22:39-46, Matt 26:36-44, and Mark 14: 32-42. They all say pretty much the same thing:

They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine…”

When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Why was Jesus so afraid?

Most versions of this story say Jesus sweated blood. This only happens when humans are maxed-out with terror.

First is trembling, then sweaty trembling, and then finally, sweaty-blood coming out of your pores. Gross, yes, and also exactly where Jesus was at right before he was captured and set towards a public flogging and crucifixion that would also include taking the sins of all of humanity upon himself.

He even asks God for a way out of it.

Ever notice Jesus what Jesus does in response to this horribly terrifying fear?

“Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here.” He says.

He confronts things head-on. Dives straight into the fear. And he handles it perfectly and with as much grace as possible when you’re literally ripped to shreds and then forced to carry your own 300-pound execution stake a couple miles.

This is the key: Jesus goes through the cross to get to the resurrection. He takes no shortcuts. He goes through the thing he’s terrified of.

Why don’t they make a horror game like that? Oh wait. That’s right. Most horror games are about enduring the horror and getting through it. Hmm…

That’s what I want us to be like: people that go through our fears to get to the healing, redemptive, restoration of things on the other side.

How do you handle fears in a bad way?

For me? I put things off as long as I can. I procrastinate like a kid hoping that the teacher won’t notice I didn’t hand in my homework. I put off my business plan so that I don’t have to confront the hard questions of starting a business. I put off projects that I don’t know how to do. And I flirt with not turning things in on time.

That’s not to say I always do things those ways. But if I’m doing bad, yeah. It’s not good.

But yeah, before moving on, maybe ask yourself: How do you handle fears in a bad way?

How do you handle fears in a good way?

On good days, I step into my fears and take it one step at a time. Picking up where I left off and pressing through as hard as I can for as long as I can stand. This means I etch away at my business plan. Or I step out and search the internet for How To videos on things I don’t know anything about. I take small baby steps one at a time towards figuring out how to get through my pains. I talk to people who have been there. That’s the big one: I need a lot of help. So I go to the people that have shown me they’re trustworthy.

How do you handle fears in a good way?

Remember how Jesus handled fear

Jesus took one step towards his accusers and never backed down even though he knew they would crucify him. He was afraid. But he never despaired and never faltered. He kept walking forward, willingly.

And on the other side? Resurrection life.

So may you become like Jesus in how you confront your fears and find new life on the other side.

This post has been adapted from its original form on the author’s blog.

About M. Joshua Cauller

M. Joshua is a missionary to his basement — where he leads a videogames-and-spiritaul-formation group called GameCell. He makes indie game trailers by day, which you can see at mjoshua.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.