It was my brother-in-law who first got me interested in The Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. The epic fantasy series, which many know as the inspiration behind HBO’s Game of Thrones, is certainly not for the faint of heart. Filled with war, treachery, and sexual situations, it’s not exactly something you would recommend to a Christian audience. Still, like my last article, I found this series hid a nugget of wisdom beneath its pages. It all boiled down to a single question, “Who is your King?”
Martin’s story takes place in Westeros, a fictional, medieval continent that formerly comprised of seven kingdoms before it was untied under a single ruler. The reader soon learns that the true heirs of the realm, a family known as House Targaryen, were exiled after a civil war many years ago, and that the Kingdom is currently being led by a man named Robert Baratheon. Robert proves to be a terrible king, neglecting his duties, wasting money, and playing the party animal as the kingdom struggles on. Upon his death (spoiler alert) the land splits apart into civil war, with a number of characters vying to become King of Westeros. Now, here’s where things get interesting.
The reader gets to know the character of these would-be Kings, and while some are certainly better than others, none of them really deserve to be King. They are all flawed, willing to kill or sacrifice to get what they want, and on a deep, subtle level the reader knows that the realm would never be at peace if one of them reigned. In fact, the overarching theme of the entire series is that the true king is not on the throne. The more I look at Westeros, tangled up in its wars, political plots, and encroaching danger, the more I see a parallel to our own world. Like the people in Martin’s fantasy, we chose to separate ourselves from the rightful King, God.
We forget that the way Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden was through a promise of power.
"For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." – Genesis 3:5
We sought to take God’s throne for ourselves, and under our rule the world has seen pain, suffering, and cruelty beyond imagining. As in the Song of Ice and Fire, we are currently living in the midst of a civil war, an invisible one. One side God stands with his arms outstretched, and on countless other sides is the world. As Christians, we need to choose how we will conduct our lives, and that means picking who we follow. To use Martin’s language, “we need to bend the knee, and swear the oaths of loyalty.”
So the next time you look at your life, ask yourself,
“Who is your King?”
*This review first published 3/11/2013