Attributed Gifts
By Anthony Casperson

There’s this video game that’s been out for a little while. Maybe you’ve heard of it: Elden Ring.

While I am mostly joking—because a lot of people in my sphere of influence have been talking about and playing nothing else—I do recognize that some reading this might not be as big into video games as those people. I, myself, am not a fan of the type of game that Elden Ring is (a “Soulsborne” game), but all of this conversation has allowed me to glean a few things.

For one, while you can choose a starting “class” that effects your equipment at the beginning of the game, much of your character’s build isn’t forced in a certain direction because of that early game choice. How the character grows is dependent upon the weapon(s) you primarily use and eight specific stats called Attributes. Vigor, Mind, Endurance, Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Faith and Arcane.

Some players might wish to engage in the magic system, so the Mind Attribute becomes important, along with one or more of the Attributes of Intelligence, Faith and/or Arcane, depending on which aspects of magic that the player is interested. Others might be intrigued by a particular weapon that requires a certain amount of Strength to wield. The list of options could go on.

But the reason I bring up this game that I’ve never played is because this freedom to make drastically different characters—even though the whole experience boils down to eight Attributes, and eventually a single main objective—goes even further than many other RPGs.

How gifted a character is in a certain Attribute will differ widely from player to player. Even playthrough to playthrough for the same player. And the range between the various Attributes will also differ. But the main point of playing the game remains essentially the same for each player. There’s an intended storyline (even if there are a couple different options for the ending).

Thousands (if not millions) of variable outcomes, but all with a single focusing story.

A sermon I’ve been preparing for 1 Corinthians 7 and a recent daily devotion through Romans 12 both made me consider the various giftings that we followers of Jesus have. And that led my mind back to Elden Ring with its different Attributes and its story.

The 1 Corinthians passage speaks to followers of Jesus focusing their devotion on God, regardless of the life situation in which they find themselves. Some are gifted singleness. Others are gifted a married life. There are the divorced, the widowed, and the betrothed. Each and every one should have an undivided devotion to God, even though there are differences in the life gifted to them by him. (See more about this when I upload that sermon in just over a month.)

And the Romans passage lists out some other spiritual gifts: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, and performing acts of mercy. All the while, Paul reminds the followers of Jesus in Rome that we are to use whatever spiritual gifting we have for the glory of God as an act of spiritual worship. We should live in line with the measure that God has gifted us.

The important thing here, is that though there are millions of options for God to attribute an individual, we are all called to apply the gifts for the same story of history that God is telling through us.

Look at Romans 12:9-21 and see that Paul lists out specific applications for all of us to follow. There’re not dependent upon what our spiritual stats are. It’s not like someone can say that just because they don’t have the gift of giving, that they don’t need to show hospitality and contribute to the needs of the saints (see v. 13).

Rather, this one call—regardless of attribution of spiritual gifts—shows the amazing beauty of the work of God. We’re all able to serve him for his purpose, even though there are millions of different possible combinations.

Though unlike a video game, God doesn’t make incompetent builds.