I don’t know about you, but the thing I have missed the most in this pandemic season is going to the movies. I love everything about movies. Movies have a unique ability to unify an audience. Movies provide powerful shared experiences among friends and interesting conversation starters among acquaintances.
There is a reason why movies resonate with human beings. Movies provide a glimpse into the big story of our world and reality. We need movies now, maybe more than ever. Here’s why.
1) We need a clear hero.
The most popular movies have clear heroes. Comic book movies, James Bond, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars all provide clear heroes. The heroes in those movies are distinct and set apart. Almost immediately the audience is on the same team. The audience knows when to cheer and when to wince. Although the details of how the heroes will make it out alive may be unknown from the beginning, the outcome is sure: they’re going to win.
In our world, we are vacant of true heroes. None of us can agree on who the true hero is.
The beauty of movies, though, is that no matter our social or political leanings, we find ourselves in the movie theatre at the same time rooting for Rey or 007. Movies unify us in this way because the hero is clear.
The gospel provides the Hero we desire. The first verse of the Bible makes it clear who the Hero of the story is. It is God. The Bible, and our world, begins with Him: perfect and self-sufficient. He speaks everything into existence, and it is good. Nothing out of place and everything done for the right reason. The ultimate Hero.
2) We need a clear enemy.
Great movies give us someone to cheer for and someone to hate. A clear enemy is equally important as a clear hero. Some of my favorite movies of all time have the clearest, most despicable villains. Hans Gruber from Die Hard and The Joker from The Dark Knight are just two of my favorite villains.
When the enemy is clear, then unity is present again. The audience knows where to place the blame. They know who needs to be stopped and ultimately defeated.
In our world today, we often have no clue who to blame. We are putting the blame on so many people, countries, and organizations. Our enemy seems as unclear as ever. We need an over-the-top Bond villain and henchmen. We need another Thanos. We need an enemy we all love to hate.
There is an enemy in the gospel story. This enemy, Satan, has hatred for the Hero and His creation. This enemy is described as the father of lies (John 8:44). Through the enemy’s deception, brokenness and sin entered into the world causing a seemingly insurmountable chasm between God and His most beautiful creation, humankind. This enemy will stop at nothing to keep mankind away from knowing God and being united with Him.
3) We need a clear problem.
People being held hostage. Gotham under attack. The Ring of Power corrupting people’s hearts. The impending destruction of the universe. Have you ever wondered why the villains have a scene where they explain their plan? It is a way for the writer to reveal the clear problem. When the audience knows what the problem is, they begin to dream about how the hero will solve it.
Everyone in our world believes they know what the problem is. Is it COVID? Is it civil rights? Is it the government? The world’s problem is as unclear as our enemy. Movies provide a clear and unifying problem, and we really need to know what the problem is.
The problem in the gospel story is sin. With sin comes disease, war, murder, addiction, and other forms of death and destruction. With sin comes separation from God. It is clear that the enemy needs to be defeated and sin and death with it.
4) We need a clear solution.
The enemy has a plan, but the hero has a better one. The enemy brings the problem, and the hero provides the solution. Contrary to the villain’s agenda, the hero’s plan rarely gets explained, and the audience is left hanging on to each and every scene until the big reveal. In every great movie there is a moment where it seems like the villain has the upper hand. The audience begins to doubt. For a moment all hope is lost. Then enter the hero and the glorious plan revealed. We all live for this moment in the movie.
We all long for a day when COVID is eradicated and racism is destroyed. Everyone thinks they have the solution, and thus our world is more divided than ever.
The Hero of the gospel provides the solution. God steps in and reveals through prophecy and promises that He will come one day and defeat the enemy and rescue His people. God’s plan caught His people totally off guard. For God, it was clear and singular what needed to be done. Death was the just punishment for sin, yet righteousness and perfection were required for full reconciliation.
God’s plan was simple and deeply sacrificial. He would have to die for the people and then be resurrected on the third day. Only He could atone completely for the sins of the people. Only He could provide the infinite righteousness required for the people. So God sent His Son, Jesus, to rescue His people. He did exactly what He said He would do and achieved exactly what He said He would achieve.
Jesus defeated the enemy once and for all. The Hero won. Our faith in the Hero of the big story is what secures for us the victory.
5) We need a clear resolution.
Have you ever noticed how great movies end in a way that’s similar to how they began, but with most of the characters in an even better place than before?
We all have a sense that the world is not the way it ought to be. We all long for suffering and disease to cease. We all long for lasting peace and love. We long for happily ever afters.
The gospel ends better than the way it began, with God and us in perfect relationship. The big story ends with the Hero ruling and reigning for all eternity, where there is no suffering, disease, sin, or death. Truly happily ever after.
In the gospel we have a clear Hero, God. We have a clear enemy, Satan. We have a clear problem, sin and death. We have a clear solution, Jesus Christ. We have a clear resolution, heaven and eternity with God.
Unlike movies, the gospel is not temporal. Its effects are not limited to a 2 ½ hour window. Its effects are eternal and freely offered to all who will trust and believe.