What if Christians All Had a List of Names like Arya Stark?
Warning! If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones or read the Bible, spoiler warnings ahead
One of the most popular shows of this decade and possibly television in general has been the HBO show Game of Thrones. The show – which depicts the fictional world of Westeros and all of the political and supernatural drama contained within, is concluding its final season in 2019.
For Christians, Game of Thrones has produced a widely asked question. Should a Christian watch a popular show that contains extreme amounts of terrible language, sex and violence? This article will not be tackling the answer to that question, instead, I want those that do watch to compare a long running storyline in the show itself to our everyday life in Christ.
Arya Stark is a babyface highborn turned assassin who winds up defeating the supernatural leader of the zombie army called the Night King in the final season of the show. In previous seasons, however, she was not a hero of a living army but a lone wolf killer.
In an earlier season, young Arya Stark loses her father as a result of political conflict and sets out on a journey to become a highly trained killer. Early on the road, a friend introduces her to idea of dwelling on the names of the people who have wronged her by saying the names out loud as she goes to sleep. At first, the number of names on her list is small, however, her list grows quite large as more people begin to act in a way she disapproves of.
Viewers see Arya speak the names of this list through the course of the show’s seasons. Memes, GIFS and parodies of these scenes have since been created over the years because the idea of having a list of people you want dead has struck a chord with our culture of unforgiveness and the world’s desire for personal happiness above that of our neighbor.
Every time I see Arya’s death list portrayed or referenced I think about creating my own list, however, it will be a list of life and not death. As a Christian, my desire is to live in a way that does not harm or wish ill upon those that have wronged me, but to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and pour hot coals on their head by acting in kindness (Romans 12:20).
Forgiveness, however, is not the easiest task in the world to complete. Turning the other cheek is easier to say than to do. In truth, the world champions unforgiveness, especially when someone has personally wronged and hurt you or your beliefs. Division and strife are the results of unforgiveness. Jesus taught through example, however, that forgiveness is critical to the success and joy found in the life of a believer.
Immediately after teaching us how to speak the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Christ warns believers to not live a life of unforgiveness because the result will be our own unforgiveness in the eyes of God. Therefore, I am determined to create and speak out my own life list each day as a reminder to myself of who I need to forgive. Jesus – who is the ultimate example of unforgiveness, died for individuals that not only wanted him dead during the course of His life but also every person who would blasphemy His name and also have unbelief towards His name as the path to salvation in the future.
When they came to the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on His right and the other on His left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:33-34
During the Crucifixion of Christ, the Bible says in the verses above that Christ not only forgive those that were killing Him, but felt empathy enough to pray for them as well. I imagine that many of us facing death from an attacker would not likely be praying for the person attacking us. Ask Walder Frey if he was thinking of forgiveness as Arya Stark removed him from her list.
Jesus died for us to create the path to salvation. In addition, Jesus died so that we could also have ultimate justice against our enemy, however, God and not ourselves is meant to be the judge. Our true enemy is not the person that has wronged us, but a devil that has come to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).
My goal is to not help that enemy win the day. I’m sure that enemy has his own Arya Stark like list and that list is growing by the minute. I want to strive to speak life into those that the enemy would like to kill and that list includes my enemies and those that have sinned against me.
Tonight, as I lay my head down on my pillow to sleep, my prayer will be a list of names I hope will live. A list of people I hope to have restored relationships with or forgiveness for. I will also pray individual names of those I hope to find salvation through Christ and His designed plans for their future.
There may be millions who tune in to the last season to find out who will win the Game of Thrones, but the truth is a king has already been crowned. Unfortunately, there are some that think Jesus is just as fictional as the Kings and Queens on the show, however, Jesus is real and my prayer is that you make Him the Lord of your life and partake in the joy, peace and hope that come from putting your faith in His real life kingdom.
John Simmons is the President of Testimony House Ministries. He writes a daily blog for Testimony House each week day. He is the author of God Has a Sentence for Your Life and Finding Faith. Follow John on social media @newjohnsimmons. You can also watch John hosts various live streaming programs on the Testimony House Network each week.