Limbo & Theology

The Light Within & the Christian’s Journey

Limbo is a game that I have seen given away for free more than Wal-Mart hands out samples in the grocery aisle. So, though most gamers have a copy, not everyone has played it, including me. I played through it recently and found something interesting about this dark little game.

In Limbo, you play as a little boy who is traversing  through a nightmarish landscape. Your journey brings you up against a giant spider, electrified floors, mind-controlling slugs, hostile humans, and more. There’s little to no narrative going on in the game save for the instinct of constantly pushing forward.

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I remember when I first came across another human in the game and thought, “Great! A new friend.” I quickly realized that this person was not my friend as he ran away. When I came across him again, he had companions and they proceeded to try to kill me via traps. “What is going on?,” I thought. But something stood out to me during this interaction: I was the only one with white eyes. The other people didn’t have eyes; their eye sockets were filled with darkness.

33) “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.  34) Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.  35) Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.  36) If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” – Luke 11:33-36 (ESV)

The main character of Limbo is the only character you see that has white eyes. This led me to think of the above verse. I wondered about the other people I had met. Do they have faith? Hope? Redemption? Or are they slaves to their depravity? Perhaps the main character had a message to share but the hostiles did not want any part of it. As followers of Christ, we’re told to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel. But to many, the Gospel is offensive and a stumbling block. Many times it brings hostility at the realization of sin and that the way some live is not in accordance with Scripture. Some people just plain hate God. Was this true of the people in the game?

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As I continued playing Limbo, my mind thought of the walk for the Christian. It often is not an easy one and there are times where trials arise that challenge us, just like they do in Limbo. Often, the answer is not clear and, just like in Limbo, puzzles in life require thought and careful consideration. For the Christian, we do this through prayer, study of Scripture, and the sharpening of interactions with fellow Christians who have gone through similar circumstances.

2) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. – James 1:2-3

Whenever I encountered a particularly trying puzzle in Limbo, I found myself growing frustrated when I couldn’t figure it out. Yet, my character never shared in my frustration. He simply stood there, waiting to take action. It’s interesting how in some games when you take too long to consider your next move, the character taps his foot or says something to hurry you up. But not in Limbo. The character awaited the action, not knowing what would occur with the next jump or press of a button. The character showed patience, whether by design choice or simply because he had no other choice.

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Though Limbo is not exactly a perfect picture of a Christian’s walk in life, it does have some striking similarities. Life is often dark and scary, especially for the one living in accordance with Scripture, living out a saving faith in Jesus Christ. It is not easy at times, but we have hope in Christ, which fills us with light. And it’s this light that is to be shared with others, no matter how hostile. Limbo can be seen as a powerful display of a Christian’s life, whether the studio intended it to be or not. When facing a new trial in Limbo, or in life, I’m reminded of God’s command to Joshua:

6) Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7) Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:6-9 (ESV)

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