Winter is here. At least, it is for the record-breaking 16 million viewers who turned in to watch the series premiere of Game of Thrones on Sunday night. By the end of the week, roughly 30 million people are expected to have watched “Dragonstone,” this week’s episode.

For those who don’t know, Game of Thrones is a fantasy epic based on the novels of George R. R. Martin. The series follows the political intrigue of the Seven Kingdoms - where members of the houses of Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen vie for the right to sit upon the iron throne and rule as king (or queen). As the political drama unfolds in the south, an army of ice zombies looms in the darkness to the north.

And there are dragons.

The series is as well known for its lush costumes, dramatic plot twists, and masterful world-building as it is for its brutal depictions of physical, psychological, and sexual violence. But, while all this violence can sometimes make Game of Thrones difficult to watch, the show isn’t really about that.

At its core, Game of Thrones is about people. It’s a family drama set against a brutal backdrop. One in which each of the characters is as deeply nuanced as they are tragically flawed. Every character in Game of Thrones is capable of great good and terrible evil. And every one of them makes bad decisions.

matt-blog-7.19.17-got.pngNed Stark is both deeply honorable and profoundly naive. Cersei Lannister is at once ruthlessly ambitious and a fiercely devoted mother. Daenerys Targaryen (the closest the series gets to a messiah figure) is so dedicated to her ideals of freedom and mercy for the oppressed that she is uncompromisingly cruel to any who would oppose her.

There isn’t much Gospel in Game of Thrones, though there is a lot of humanity. I think that’s part of what makes the series so appealing to millions of viewers worldwide: in it, we see ourselves. We, too, have the capacity for great good and terrible evil. We, too, make poor choices. We, too, live in an often brutal and uncompromising world.

Like the people of Westeros, we live in a world yearning for the Gospel. And we’re charged to go out and proclaim God’s redeeming, world-changing love to everyone we meet.

Shall we begin?