January 16, 2010

To Live is Christ — a full-time occupation

Curious because this movie was used to illustrate a point in last Sunday’s sermon, we went to see Avatar last night. The technology to produce it is amazing. The storyline was another matter.

As a student of the Bible, I see things from a spiritual perspective. I’m continually trying to figure out what God would say about things, including television shows and commercials and all other aspects of modern life. From observation and reading His Word, I see spiritual parallels in all sorts of places, including movies.

Biblically, human beings are either believers or not. However, the likeness of God (in which all people are created) can show up in everyone, even criminals. In the same vein, even godly people can demonstrate the marring of sin in their behavior. This can be confusing to casual observation, yet there is a consistency in the spiritual realm. Evil eventually shows itself to be what it is. Godliness will also make itself known. As the Bible says, godliness lasts for eternity and evil will fail and be judged.

All that being said, the plot line of Avatar did not make any sense. While the blue people seemed to be the good guys in the film, their beliefs were anti-God and a form of pantheism mixed with elements from many other pagan beliefs. Historically and theologically, these beliefs do not produce lasting goodness.

The movie realistically depicted human beings as both “good” and greedy. The greedy people were routed and destroyed in the end of the movie. As for the “good” people, their “goodness” was a reflection of the image of God in which they were created, but it was far from godliness that shows up in genuine believers. Not only that, in the end these “good” people  transferred to the other side and became part of the world belonging to the blue people — who, biblically, were outside of the will of God also. The concept of good and evil was not only confused but incongruous and didn’t ring spiritually authentic. I left the movie feeling disoriented, like I’d been in another world that does not exist.

This morning I read this passage again and thought about others who do not know God. How must they feel when they read things like this in the Bible? The passage says,

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Samuel 15:2–3)
King Saul was told to destroy his enemies, even the women and babies and animals. Does that make sense? It doesn’t, unless it is seen as a literal demonstration of the spiritual battle against sin. To win that battle, I need to attack and destroy every last thing that sustains my problems with sin. This means staying away from temptations on the outside and putting to death sinful attitudes in my heart. For full and total victory, I must remove all that sustains my sinfulness.

This is not as simple as it sounds. My devotional reading asks about examples of things that nourish sin in my life. What do I keep or hold on to that prevents me from having full victory over sin?

I already thought about my so-called rights. Such a notion is folly. Rights are actually privileges and responsibilities. I have no right to hold grudges, retaliate against those who hurt me, or refuse forgiveness. God commands the opposite of these things.

Wanting my own way or thinking that my own way is best has to be my biggest stumbling block. These attitudes close my ears to God and keep me from obedience. They also foster further sin as I leap ahead and actually do what I think is best rather than obeying what God says.

Another obstacle is laziness. Being an obedient Christian is hard work. This is not a life of ease. God is good and blesses me with peace, joy, and so much more, but there is work to be done. I cannot sit back with a good book and avoid sin. Such indolence fosters me-ism and self-centeredness.

There are more, but after watching that movie, another thing that could prevent me from full victory over sin is lack of effort to be discerning. Just enjoy the movie. Forget the implications. Forget what God thinks. Forget what the Bible says. It is just a movie. This attitude is deadly and would harm my spiritual life more than I’d care to imagine.

To live is Christ means being on the ball, being alert, listening to the Holy Spirit and paying attention so the enemy of my soul does not get the best of me.

To live is Christ is full-time employment. 

For an interesting review of Avatar, click here.


Karin said...

I totally agree with you and have this conversation often with the younger generation who thinks so differently. My prayer is that, that too, the Lord will make clear to them as they mature in their faith. I feel that if I have to look so hard in a movie for the hidden spiritual messages, confused as they often are, then it is best that I not watch it at all. Does one have to watch the movie to be able to have a discussion with a non-believer (or believer) in order to point out the errors? Most folks would say, 'Well, you haven't seen it,' so how can you say anything or even make a judgment. Just further thoughts that are triggered by your post.....

LC said...

I've wondered the same thing about needing to see it to discuss it... and in this case, I think I did. The mix of religious ideas was like a stew, and someone who didn't know the various false teachings would be unlikely to even notice them, or bring them out in a discussion so I would know to point to the errors. The movie was PG13 also, so the offense wasn't in 'sex, violence' etc. but in what one reviewer called, the "spiritual fantasy." There are many movies that I don't need to see to know what is wrong with them... yikes, far too many.

michellez said...

Thanks for your insightful post! I admire your ability to analyze Avatar according to Christ when you could have just watched it mindlessly.