Here’s my confession: I love Game of Thrones. I read the books and began watching it along with the rest of the world several years back. Now it’s special because I watch it with my parents (slightly strange I know!), it’s full of bad-ass women characters (good and evil) and I’ll happily admit that I’m a sucker for dragons. I know that this confession might cause some people to question my moral integrity. That’s okay. But please read on to see where I’m going with this…
Recently I watched the newest series with my dad while I was at home for a few weeks, and we got to see one of the most highly anticipated scenes so far: the first meeting of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. If you haven’t seen it, and have been living under a rock these past years, what you need to know is that these two are the real deal. Both are heart-throbs and heroes in their own right; she is the Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains (like I said, bad-ass!), and he is King in the North, complete with his very own resurrection story. Their first meeting was always going to be epic. (By the way, this blog definitely contains spoilers)
To cut a loooooong story short, for the last seven seasons we’ve seen the bloody battles and secret betrayals of contenders and pretenders, all vying to rule the seven kingdoms of Westeros. Powerful family houses have broken alliances no sooner than making them, both guilty and innocent have had their lives destroyed and/or taken and legend has become reality in more ways than one.
Not seeking power for himself, Jon Snow has travelled south to meet Daenerys and ask for her help. His one agenda is to convince her of the dangers of a much greater enemy, one who doesn’t care about her claim to the Iron Throne, or which family sits in power, but seeks only to destroy every living person. Jon has seen the army of the dead, a relentless and terrifying army in which the rest of the world does not believe.
And this got me thinking: this is our story too (stay with me here). As the Church, we fight each other for power, for the rule of certain traditions and doctrines. The world sees our factions and disagreements much sooner than it sees our unity and our peace. We’ve gotten distracted and forgotten our real enemy. We do it in our personal lives too: family feuds that last for decades, offence and hurt held close for years, and betrayal, rejection and unforgiveness mar even our most precious relationships. We find enemies in each other even when the Bible expressly tells us that this is not the case.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
While we’re distracted, tearing each other down and competing to win fame and honour, the real enemy advances, taking ground. He’s the ruler of the dead; of those who live in this world but do not know True Life. He uses our petty wars for status, security, attention and acclaim as a way to keep his hold over us and distort our vision for the real victory.
In a later conversation with Beric, a man who has been brought back from the dead several times, Jon asks him what he’s fighting for.
“Life” Beric replies, “Death is the enemy. The first enemy and the last.” (GoT S07E06) Things look bleak. “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
As a Church, let’s heed this warning from Jon Snow. Let’s keep our eyes on our Saviour, and continue reminding our real enemy of his place (defeated forever). Let’s stand firm against his schemes to pit us against each other, and let’s not become consumed with a need for power and forget our true calling. Let’s declare God’s victory and remain faithful to His purposes.
Honestly, for Westeros, I don’t know how it’s all going to play out. The dead are hard to destroy with fairly horrific and as-yet-unknown superpowers, plus they have a living-dead dragon (again, #sorrynotsorry for the spoilers). Our story is different. Jesus has already defeated death, and we don’t need to live in fear. Our daily victories are small but mighty. It’s when we choose to believe the best in someone rather than assume the worst. Or when we seek to join hands with people who hold different beliefs, rather than attacking them. Or it means seeing beyond the person in front of you and the hurt they are causing you and looking deeper, for the root of the issue. Our battle is always spiritual. And God always has the victory. And maybe, in heaven, I’ll get to ride a dragon.
I had to add an extra bit on the end of this blog because I had a conversation with a friend that I just couldn’t get out of my head. Jesus is coming back. He’s coming back for His Bride. One unified Church. He’s not in love with the biggest mega-church, or the church that shouts the loudest, or even the church that gives the most to the poor. He’s in love with us as one unified body. Let’s work on that as we work out eternity.
image taken from CNBC in an article about visiting the site of the scene