Posts Tagged ‘sin’

 

[NOTE: This was originally published in June of 2012, but is being re-posted to foster thoughts about the up-coming release of Fifty Shades of Grey.]

Yesterday we considered many thoughts that surrounded the movie Thor, centering on lust. Is it okay to watch a scene that highlights a certain actor’s – or actresses – physical attributes? Does it bump up too closely to lust? In my opinion, the scene from Thor was designed to make you do so, and other similar scenes do so as well.

These thoughts came about from a post I read on Facebook, the rise of female pornography addiction, and the release of Magic Mike. Here is the synopsis of the film: A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money. Classy! I promise to stick to some of the same concerns from yesterday and stay away from the question of, why Steven Soderbergh is continuing to throw away his career by making bad movies?

I guess this is the main question I have with the release of Magic Mike, is this a preview of what’s to come? Will films like this become common-place because of the rise in popularity of female porn?

I may be wrong, but I cannot think of a film that has marketed male nudity this explicitly, at least in recent years. The content says “brief graphic nudity”. Some may think, ‘at least it’s brief.’ Yes, but it’s still graphic. This film is dangerous for at least two reasons.

First, the cast is made up of notable actors. Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey are guys that have catered to girls idolatry of love in many romantic comedies. Now, they are going to be leaving little to the imagination in MM, but women will flock to the theaters.

Secondly, the story seems to follow your typical romantic-comedy plot. Rom-coms usually depict rank fornication, but do so in a cutesy way which sells tickets. And even though the story of MM follows male strippers, the added rom-com subplot makes this pill easier to swallow. It makes porn seem cutesy.

To me, a line from the film sums up everything. Dallas (McConaughey) is giving his fellow narcissistic strippers a pep talk and states, “You are the husband she never had.” This statement is wrong on so many levels, but let’s just pick one.

Husbands and wives make a vow before God that death will be the only thing to separate them. Because of this covenant, the man commits to the wife and visa versa, no matter what. In light of the current discussion, this means the wife holds the husband as her standard of beauty – not some stripper.

And this is the true danger of films like this, creating lustful covetousness of a fantasy. You see, many men and women can remain in a marriage, while fulfilling fantasies through movie stars and make-believe characters. The new, exceedingly popular, pornographic novels Fifty Shades of Grey have proved that. Walt Mueller, President of Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, recently wrote an article about the literary porn phenomena. Read what he witnessed at the book table at Costco one afternoon:

A younger woman was holding the book and pondering the purchase. She had an inquisitive and slightly guilty look on her face. An older women standing nearby happened to see the same inquisitive and guilty look and decided to engage the younger lady in conversation. . . . a conversation that pushed the latter to a tipping point. “Thinking about reading it?”, the older woman asked. “Yes, but I hear it’s a little dirty,” the younger woman replied. At that point, the young woman’s husband appeared behind her with their cart. Noticing her husband was now privy to the conversation, the young woman turned a little red and muttered something about her husband showing up. . . as if the conversation needed to come to an end. She looked like a guilty kid who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. The older woman. . . probably in her mid-60s by my estimation. . . looked at her, gave her a little wink, and said, “It’s ten dollars well spent.” With that, the young woman placed the book in her cart. . . . and I watched her exchange a sly little smile with her husband. That was an interesting mentoring moment that says a lot about who we are and what we’re becoming as a culture [read the full article here].

One can never point out the deceitfulness of our sin enough. Whether it’s Thor with his shirt off, Magic Mike struttin’ his stuff, Twilight vampires glistening in the sun, or new explorations in bondage from Fifty Shades of Grey, we must be cautious of toying with our sin. Remember, sin wants to destroy your marriage, lead you down a path of adultery, and, ultimately, drag you to hell, so be wary of the lie it’s telling. Should you go see Magic Mike? Will it help you appreciate your husband? Will it cause you to lust? You might not have to search your heart too long on this one.

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Document 1People sometimes quip, Ministry would be easy if you didn’t have to deal with people.  The same could be said of relationships – they would be easier if you didn’t have to deal with people.  The subtitle to Paul David Tripp and Timothy Lane’s book entitled Relationships aptly reads A Mess Worth Making.  If anyone were to sum up the story of Two Lovers in a word ‘Messy!’ would prove fairly accurate.

Two Lovers tells the story of a heart-broken man, Lenard Creditor (Joaquin Phoenix).  Lenard suffers from depression after his fiancé left him.  He now lives with his parents and works at his father’s dry cleaning business.  With little prospects in sight, he comes across Sandra Cohen (Vinessa Shaw) and Michelle Rausch (Gwenyth Paltro) within a day of each other.  He is drawn to both of them, providing Lenard (and the viewer) with a difficult decision.  That is, until you get to know them.

The film accurately portrays the complexities of relationships.  Not so much through cliches of your typical rom-com fare, but by getting down to a heart-level.  It accurately displays the brokenness present in every human heart.  It accurately displays the truth that we all display a facade of tidiness towards those we meet in order to conceal the depths of depravity below the surface.

In a sense, Two Lovers is your anti-romantic comedy.  It wars against the cliched one-liners the male fires away at the female.  While those lines are fired away in Two Lovers, they often come out awkwardly and fall on deaf ears.  Not only are the lines not received well, but relationships aren’t sanitized, cookie-cutter style either.  There are deep problems of drug addiction and past sins, that display a difficulty in relationships that aren’t a quick fix.

Not only does the film capture the complexities of relationships, it also captures the deep need for them.  As Tripp and Lane explain in their book, we were made for relationships.  Being created in the image of a triune God – who is in perfect relationship with himself – we don’t have a choice but to be in relationship. Sharing in fellowship with other individuals is something that’s in our DNA.  Sin, however, doesn’t make this relating all that easy, but it doesn’t keep it from being a human necessity either.

Two Lovers is a messy film.  It has content that will bother some Christians (utilize the fast-foward).  That being said, its display of sin wreaking havoc in individual’s lives, as well as, the need for humans to be in relationship with others, gives a realism that’s often cleaned up before its portrayal on the big screen.  I think a film like this proves that we want redemption.  We don’t like messy stories.  We often want stories that are cleaned up and have a happy ending.  And while you can say there is a happy ending in Two Lovers, the rocky path on the way there will prove too bumpy for most.

shrunkA few weeks ago we decided to pop in the Rick Moranis’ classic, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.  If you are like me, this is a childhood favorite.  I saw it in the theaters and then re-watched it time and time again.  I even remember my mind being blown when I went to Disney World and discovered they had a playground resembling the movie (Disney really is magical, isn’t it?!)

All of this to say, I was anxious to see how my adult thoughts and emotions would align with those from my childhood.  For example, I gave extra sensitivity and care to my daughter as she wept over “Anty’s” sacrificial death – I, too, fought back the tears…when I was little, of course.  I remember the Lego the kids lodged in over night, the bumblebee flight, and the big Cheerio – “Dad!  Don’t eat me!!”

Something I didn’t remember was the strife between the husbands and wives in this film, which trickled down to the children.  I realized that the children were literally shrunk in the film, but they were also figuratively shrunk, as well.  The two fathers, Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) and Big Russ Thompson (Matt Frewer), were men that were consumed with themselves.  (I also need to add that Disney remains consistent in degrading men – they are both buffoons.)  Wayne is a scientist who ascends into his laboratory (attic) to the neglect of his entire family.  While I’m sure he loves his children, he often doesn’t even make conversation or eye-contact when interacting with them.

Conversely, one could say that Big Russ gives too much attention to his boys – specifically, the oldest, Little Russ Thompson.  In fact, one could say that Big Russ harasses Little Russ.  Big Russ is obsessed with his former athletic prowess and pushes his son to be just like him, without a care for the lack of gifts his son may have.

Therefore, Wayne and Big Russ have both “shrunk” their kids, in a sense.  It isn’t until the kids are literally shrunk, that the two fathers realize their errors and swear to change.

Sadly, we know this is true of our own lives.  While we may not possess a laser in our attic with the capabilities of shrinking our children, we often shrink them and their concerns for our own.  Because of sin, it turns each and every human inward.  Instead of being focused on others and their needs, we look to self.  Sin makes it unnatural to love others, which shows the significance of the first two commandments and our need for Christ.

Although Honey I Shrunk the Kids focuses on fathers, we know mothers fall into the category of selfish living as well.  The question for each of us is this, Are we more prone to the distracted, isolated Wayne, or are we prone to the overly critical, vicarious, mind-set of Big Russ?  How do you find yourself shrinking your kids?  If you have no children, how do you shrink others around you?  Bosses?  Employees?  Neighbors?  Spouses?  Friends?  Strangers?  Homeless?  Orphaned?  Widowed?

We are all well-aware that the current culture is one of distraction.  The primary distractions come from the screens we carry around in our pockets and purse.  And, when we’re not carrying them, we’re passing them off to our children to distract them for a moment’s peace.  Bluntly put, we are masters at shrinking each other.  Praise God, he was one who was others-minded.  He sent one who did not count equality with God as something to be grasped.  He was one who looked out for the interests of others.  And, He was one who became nothing – or, shrunk – to ensure a bunch of “nothings” could be called children of the Most High.

grey26f-1-webThe trailer to this movie was released last week, so I figured some thoughts would be appropriate. I thought about coming up with ‘fifty thoughts’ for Fifty Shades of Grey in order to have a catchy title, but I couldn’t think of a greater waste of time pondering fifty thoughts about a filthy piece of trash like this film (can you tell where this post is going?).

From the outset, let me go ahead and tell you that I have not read the book and I will not see the movie.  I know many would use this to discredit me, but I think this argument is no longer valid because of a little thing called The Internet.  You can read and research a whole lot about something without having to read the book or watch the movie.  Without a doubt, one gets a greater understanding of something by actually experiencing it, but when depth and substance are lacking from a story there’s not much to experience anyway.  So, here are five thoughts:

  1. Scripture Alone:  Scripture begins with, “In the beginning God” [Gen. 1:1] and many have said these are the four most significant words in history.  They tell us many things, but one thing they tell us is the fact that God is in charge.  He’s always been in existence, he was before all things, he created all things out of nothing, and he dictates what his creation will do.  When  it comes to sex, we don’t get to do what we want.  Therefore, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele are spitting in the face of God and perverting his invention.  What does that say for those of you who’ve read the book?
  2. Faith Alone:  Because of the fall of mankind, we place our faith in everything but God.  We place our faith in money.  We place our faith in food.  We place our faith in friends.  We place our faith in sex.  Now, nothing is wrong with enjoying any one of these in a proper perspective, but a misplaced faith ends up in misplaced worship – God alone deserves that.  Fifty Shades of Grey, however, makes sex the ultimate thing and worships it.  I will say that the story seems to accurately portray what happens when anyone or anything receives the worship that is due to God – perversion.  Grey is so obsessed with sex it becomes something demented.  Sadly, many who have read the book have gone down this demented path and have adopted these practices.  Even more sadly, husbands and wives will go see this movie together and will worship this ideal and become more discontent with one another.
  3. Grace Alone:  God doesn’t owe us a thing.  The fact that you’re breathing right now is solely because God allows it.  When all of life is grace, it’s difficult to draw attention to one aspect to appreciate.  However, sex communicates a great deal about God’s grace.  The simple fact that God gives us any pleasure is remarkable.  We sinned against him.  He would be perfectly just to make all of our food bland, remove any beauty from all creation, take away emotions, the list goes on-and-on.  One clear thing Scripture communicates about sex is that God commands husbands and wives to make it a common practice – God is so harsh. [1 Cor. 7:5]  Again, God would have been just to make sex the most boring, laborious chore – but he decided to make it pleasurable.  Christian and Anastasia (as well as the readers) see sex as something deserved for their own self-centered motives.
  4. Christ Alone:  As strange as this may sound to some, sex communicates a lot about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Once again, God designed sex as properly practiced between one man and one woman in the context of marriage [Gen. 2:15-25].  This marital union points us to our union with Christ.  Therefore, whenever there is sexual distortion, there is a distortion of the gospel.  Fifty Shades of Grey distorts the gospel of Jesus Christ for your own sinful fantasies.  Why in the world would any Christian seek to see a movie that deliberately distorts the gospel for their own entertainment?
  5. Glory to God Alone:  God is Creator and his fingerprints are all over creation.  The creation – because of God’s fingerprints – displays glory because God is glorious.  Therefore, each of us are glorious in various ways, but we turn into glory thieves because of our sin.  We attempt to highjack the glory that is due to God.  E.L. James (who wrote the novel), as well as, the actors and filmmakers are attempting to steal glory from God’s creation.  Whether it’s in the act of sex, the naked bodies of actors, or the selfish fame they are all longing for, Fifty Shades of Grey illustrates selfish people pursuing their own glory.

There are some books and movies that should simply be avoided and Fifty Shades of Grey is easily one of those.  Unfortunately, I’ve heard many Christians are reading, or read, the books and I know many more will see the movie.  While I know there is a character named ‘Christian’ in the movie, those displaying true Christian character will abstain.

IncrediblesSo, my family and I were watching The Incredibles for the 53rd time and I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.  For those of you who have already seen the film, be patient for just a moment.

TI is about a family of superheroes who fight to save the world.  Mr. Incredible fell in love with Elastigirl and they made a family of supers.  As happy as all of this sounds, they actually have to live in hiding, so to speak.  You see, Mr. Incredible was doing his “thing” saving people and put supers around the world in jeopardy.

While Mr. Incredible was on top of a building, he saw a would-be jumper and dove to save him from his sure death.  While he was saving this suicidal citizen he stopped a bank robbery and saved an elevated train from plummeting to the earth.  However, through all of his heroic acts, he discovered that some of these people did not want to be saved.  Therefore, the supers were sued and forced into hiding because some people just didn’t want to be saved.

The nuance I noticed on this viewing was the name of the individual Mr. Incredible saved – Mr. Sansweet.  This was the one individual that destroyed the supers’ organization.  This was the one individual who brought destruction to a people attempting to save humanity.  This one individual wanted to end his life and his selfishness led to widespread destruction.  His name – Sansweet.  It struck me that the word “sans” means “without”.  Therefore, you could say that his name literally means “Without Sweetness”.  In other words, this guy was without sweetness and worked in such a way to bring destruction.

Mr. Sansweet (without having any prior knowledge of him) wanted to end his life.  Maybe he was in financial trouble?  Maybe he was lonely?  Maybe no one showed him the love every human longs for?  Whatever the case, he decided to jump off of a building with the hopes of ending his life.  When, however, an individual (Mr. Incredible) decides to save his life, it drives Mr. Sansweet to hatred – not love.  He moves forward in a suit that would benefit him financially and bring about difficulty for the supers, as well as, the citizens who have been under their care.

This got me to thinking about humanity’s “Mr. Sansweet”.  There was this beautiful angel named, Lucifer.  He had happiness, unity, joy, but he was still unsatisfied.  Why?  He was self-focused.  Instead of being happy with unimaginable joy, he wanted more.  Therefore, he pursued suicide over joy.  He left the life that was graciously given to him and dove head-first into a suicidal path of destruction.

You see, Satan did not appreciate the love he was lavished.  He did not rest content in the life that was created and granted to him.  Instead he selfishly sought for more.  He was Mr. Sansweet.  In other words, he lacked sweetness.  He lacked love.  He lacked joy and his selfish act brought about a path of destruction ever since his appearance in the garden.

However, Love wouldn’t allow selfishness to have that last word.  Love didn’t stand to the side.  Love didn’t give up.  Love left His throne and made sure selflessness would reign supreme.  Instead of allowing the selfish suicide of “Mr. Sansweet” to reign supreme, Jesus allowed Satan to pursue another form of suicide – the cross.

As John Piper once said, the day Jesus died on the cross was the day Satan committed suicide.  You see, Satan knew he had lost.  Satan knew he had been defeated.  Satan knew that his selfish acts had not brought him life, rather, death.  All of that to say, Satan is our Mr. Sansweet.  He’s not a sweet guy – in fact, he’s pure evil.  However, we have a King who does not allow sin and selfishness to reign.  Instead, he brought a selflessness to this earth and it’s allowed peace and love to dominate this creation that’s filled with Mr. Sansweets like you and me.

NEIGHBORS-Poster-1For those of you who have been watching the news over the past week, you’re familiar with the killing spree that has taken place in Santa Barbara.  Elliot Rodger (22) stabbed or shot six people before killing himself.  It’s a tragedy for all those family members involved, this includes the family of Rodger.

As I mentioned previously, my wife and I just had our fourth child, so I was actually unaware of this tragic incident until recently.  While my wife and I were enjoying a new life entering our world, others were mourning the loss of life taken from their world.

As I’ve listened to some of the commentary from various news organizations, I’ve heard conclusions asserted about a specific cause for something like this.  Whenever a horror like this occurs, it’s common to find some avenue to vent our frustrations.  One of those avenues that is not unfamiliar to being viewed as the source of evil…movies.  Movies made Rodger stab and shoot those individuals.  Movies fed Rodger’s appetite for death and destruction.  This has been the assertion of some in the wake of this tragedy.

Whenever one denies God and His Word, one has to create a solution to evils like this.  One columnist in particular has called out – Judd Apatow, Seth Rogan, “Rich white men ruling the cinemas”, etc.  Of course there are outside factors that play a part in a horrible tragedy such as this.  But, the reality of the matter is the fact that Elliot Rodger killed those innocent people because Rodger is broken.  I would agree with psychiatrists who claim Elliot Rodger is sick, but I would disagree with the source of his sickness.  It is not his brain that is sick, but his heart.

A movie like Neighbors does seem to relish debauchery.  I would agree with some who have made the assertion that films like these have degraded women and have fed men with an unhealthy view of manhood, to say the least.  I would also encourage many out there not to see the above film.  However, we need to be reminded that evil is something that comes from within.  Jesus Christ is clear on this in Mark 7, “Evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these things come from within.” [vs. 21-23]

A few years ago, The Dark Knight Rises was to blame for the senseless killing spree of the midnight showing and now it is a film like Neighbors.  While these films have depictions of evil, no movie is evil enough to move someone to act out the sinfulness that is already present in their heart.  I will agree that movies can play a factor.  They can feed sinful passions, and we need to be sensitive to that.  But, so can bad parenting, peer relations, substance abuse, lack of sleep, and a whole host of other things.  These, however, do not excuse the sole responsibility of the individual carrying out those actions.  The source of the sin is not the cinema.  The source is Elliot Rodger’s sinful heart.

Let’s stop with the assertions that stricter gun control will solve the problems (be reminded that Rodger also used a knife).  Let’s stop with the assertion that movies are the problem.  The problem comes from within.  Horrible tragedies like this have been in existence since Genesis 3.  Attempting to find a source of evil other than the human heart is futile.  So is attempting to find a solution other than Jesus Christ.

Django-Unchained-wallpapers-1920x1200-2I put off watching this movie for a while, because I honestly thought I might not be able to handle it.  However, I had been reading some literature recently that discussed slavery, and it increased my desire to go ahead and watch it.  While I knew the film wasn’t striving for historical accuracy, I was interested to see Quentin Tarantino’s take on it.

I must admit, Tarantino is by far one of the most brilliant storytellers of our time.  His movies are profoundly interesting, as well as, unique, which says a lot considering the movies that frequent the cinema.  That being said, his movies are typically filled with filth, thus the conflicted conscience.  Although I enjoyed aspects of Django, it wasn’t one of my favorite Tarantino films.  The latter half of the film lacked the creativity of the first half, plus the violence was a tad excessive.

In reference to the violence, I am not suggesting that Tarantino should have sanitized a dark part of our nation’s history.  I am saying, however, that the amount (and frequency) of blood that sprays out of a gunshot wound, could have been downplayed just a little and still remained faithful.  There was so much gun-violence, I almost felt sick by the end of the movie.  And, I must admit that part of my sickness came from my dark heart.

You see, I am disgusted by the way that white people treated African Americans while this country was coming into existence.  Words like disgusting, horrific, and wicked barely seem to do justice to the way white humans, created in God’s image, treated black humans, created in God’s image.  Anyone who attempts to lessen this truth, truly needs to check their heart and repent.

That being said, it seemed that the film swung too far in the other direction.  Confessing my heart before you, I took pleasure in seeing white slave masters “get what they deserved”.  I enjoyed seeing Tarantino rewrite history and punish some of the evils that took place.  However, gunshot after gunshot after gunshot aft….you get the point….I became disgusted.  I was disgusted at all the blood, I was disgusted at all the brokenness, and I was disgusted at mankind’s idea of justice.

Tarantino is correct in recognizing and exploiting the wrong that was done.  Where he is wrong is assuming that the multiple violent killings of a bunch of white people, by a former slave, brings about some vindication for what was done.  While there is no doubt that Django’s killing of these men brought about some sense of justice, there was still sadness, death, bloodshed, and mistreatment of slaves.  To put it another way, all of Django’s killing didn’t bring about any reconciliation between races.  Whites still hated blacks and vice versa.

Sadly, even a gifted writer like Tarantino can’t rewrite history, but there is One who came to give us hope for the future.  It is true that we must live with the sins of our past, but those who are in Christ do not bear the weight of them in the future.  And, while the buckets and buckets of blood from the film can do little more than add emotion to a movie, the blood of Christ brings reconciliation to every tongue and tribe and nation [Rev. 7:9].

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I realize I was one of the few who actually really liked this movie. I think most people didn’t care for it, because it’s difficult for them to categorize. People often want to lump this movie into the action/adventure/sci-fi genre and just move on. However, this movie is just as much a drama as it is an adventure tale.

Many critiques of the 2005 version of the film were in reference to the length. Those who paid money to see an action/adventure film were disappointed that the film had depth of character and plot. They wanted to see Kong destroy a bunch of stuff, but didn’t care about the emotional level Jackson created. Jackson has stated that King Kong was his all-time favorite film, and you can see that he told it with care. He paid homage to the classic film by recreating some of the exact scenes, but he gave the 1933 film a needed revamping.

An alternate title of this film could be, A Tale of Two Islands – Skull Island and Manhattan Island. The question I want to raise today is, which Island was more evil?

I understand that Skull Island might appear scarier. It had dinosaurs, bugs the size of a Mini Cooper, scary tribal people (not to mention the little tribal girl that made you think you had stumbled into a horror film) and a giant ape. You may even say that many people died on Skull Island, so that makes it more evil. Before we jump to any conclusions, however, let’s take a look at Manhattan Island.

Why were these group of people setting sail for Skull Island? Vanity, money, & fame. Carl Denham [Jack Black] and Bruce Baxter [Kyle Chandler] can’t wait to see their names in lights, as well as, the paycheck that accompanies it. There’s lying and cheating among the men of the ship. Denham uses the ship and crew for his selfish gain, ending up bringing about death and destruction all for the sake of money.

I understand that the creatures of Skull Island were vicious and destructive, but they are animals that act on instinct. They need food for survival, they need to fight for survival and they do not intentionally betray their own for survival – people do, though. While one can say that Carl Denham begins to question his motives, he stills proves to be quite selfish throughout the film.

One still might want to assert that humans aren’t near as destructive as Kong was, however, the humans did kill Kong. Yes, by that point in the film Kong had killed his fair share of humans, but there was no beast that was able to destroy Kong on Skull Island. It isn’t until Kong makes his journey to Manhattan that he finally meets his match.

While some might desire to assert that humans are naturally good, I think King Kong makes a pretty good case for those who make the opposite assertion. And, it’s a helpful reminder that Jesus also made assertions about the evil of mankind. He said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” [Mark 7:21-23] King Kong may be pretty vicious, but his heart ain’t got nothing on mankind’s.

epicI’m assuming the creators behind the movie, Epic, thought the alternate title, Mediocre, wouldn’t sound as catchy, even though it more accurately describes what I saw. I don’t want to come across as being too harsh on the film. As I have mentioned before, there is a certain amount of creativity that goes into every film, and Epic certainly possessed some creative elements. However, there was a lot of “old hat” to be viewed.

We took the junior high of Pear Orchard to the film and a PG animated film is always a safe bet when taking teens and pre-teens to the movies. Many of the youth enjoyed it and there were elements of the film I enjoyed. Aziz Ansari playing a slug named Mub was hilarious. I laughed almost every time he had a scene.

One element I appreciated came from a line that was repeated throughout the film – “Many leaves, one tree.” Ronin explains that this means their people are all individuals, but connected and because of this, “No one is ever alone.”

The entire film is about the Leafmen, and their community, fighting against the “rot”. Mandrake is the evil villain, bringing about decay and making the statement that, “The forest belongs to the darkness.” Mandrake and his rioters of the rot make a clear distinction between good and evil and leave us with a similar truth we find in Scripture. There are those forces of evil that are warring against creation, bringing about darkness and decay to this creation.

Creation is currently wasting away, and, to put it bluntly, we are all rotting. Every human is wasting away because of this darkness that has effected creation. But, as is affirmed in the movie, we are not alone. While the decay and rot of sin is apparent in our hearts and minds, we have brothers and sisters in Christ to guide us along the treacherous journey. We too can say, because of Christ, that we are many leaves connected to the same tree.

In many ways the tree and leaves metaphor is another way of saying, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ.” [1 Cor. 12:12]. And this section goes on to say, that each member of the body has distinctly different gifts and are to be appreciated. There is a distinct unity that takes place in this body. “But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” [1 Cor. 12:24b-26]

The uniqueness of this body, lies in the fact that the Head is Jesus Christ. The parts are all unique because God has bestowed unique gifts on each one, and if this body lacked a head, it would be lifeless. However, Christ unites the body and brings life and honor to the members.

While this life does continue to experience the rot, just as in Epic, we can have great assurance that we are not alone. When one member of the body suffers from depression, loss of a loved-one, cancer, or any other saddening result of the fall, the rest of the body suffers with them. God is so gracious to give us others to carry us along. But, his ultimate testimony of love came from the gift of his Son, who took the rejection of the Father so each of us could be part of this family. And that is an epic story that has no end.

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Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph is rated F3 – fun family film. It especially appeals to those of us whose childhood included a steady diet of video games. (Many would say that this diet explains a lot of my issues)

Spoilers ahead!

Wreck-It Ralph is a story of a video game villain named (you guessed it) Ralph (John C. Reilly). Ralph becomes disillusioned with being a bad guy. Even after attending a support group for villains (one of the best scenes in the film), he decides to go on a quest to become a hero. He believes that by securing his very own medal he will finally be accepted into his video game community.

Wreck-It Ralph is creative and fun. It has many good messages to celebrate. Throughout the film we are encouraged to love others, have compassion, be content, and sacrifice for our friends. It is refreshing to see these qualities portrayed on the big screen. Unfortunately, these moral lessons have no real power in themselves. While still good advice to follow, without Jesus Christ, they provide little hope for Ralph to truly become what he was made to be.

Let me explain…

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One of the main themes (if not the main one) is that of personal contentment. “Be content with who you are” is an obvious take away from the film. Listen to the mantra of the villain support group…

“I am bad and that’s good.

I will never be good, and that’s not bad.

There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”

On the surface, this may seem like great advice. You can even “Christianize” it if you want – something like, “I just need to accept the way God made me.” While it is true that we should learn to understand our personalities, strengths, and weaknesses (and quite frankly, not take ourselves so seriously), this understanding can in no way provide the power to become who we were designed to be. The truth is that we are much worse than we think we are.

Wreck-It Ralph tells us to look inside for answers to our problems. The danger in this thinking is that we lack any real power to change what is broken. Ralph’s desire for acceptance and longing for community are good things – they are part of what it means to be human. The bad news is that these things are broken because of sin. The only hope for reconciliation with other people is found by being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

Sin destroyed true community. Because of sin we cannot be in true communion with God or with each other. Selfishness is at the core of sin. Isn’t this what happened in the Fall of mankind (Genesis 3)? Adam and Eve believed that they were better off without “the Man” keeping them down. They decided to go alone and make their own rules. As a result they were (we are) separated from relationship with God. Sin also destroyed authentic relationships with other people. Instead of working together for a common purpose, men and women now fight, manipulate, and compete. We all want to be accepted (like Ralph), but sin is a barrier that cannot be overcome by learning to love ourselves more.

Jesus Christ died not so that we could learn to accept ourselves as we are, but rather so that we can be changed into what we were created to be.

What is interesting is that Wreck-It Ralph illustrates this very thing. We see this in the character of Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). Vanellope, like Ralph is an outcast who desires to be accepted into her game community – “Sugar Rush” (a candy racing game). What is interesting is that we come to find out that she is an outcast only because the true villain, King Candy (Alan Tudyk), has distorted the original game code. Threatened by her true identity, King Candy deceives everyone into thinking that Vanellope is nothing but a “glitch” in the system – not a true part of the game.

As the story unfolds, Ralph and Vanellope come to realize that if Vanellope crosses the finish line of the race, the game will reset. This reboot will return the game to its original programming – with Vanellope as a true part of the “Sugar Rush” community. Ralph, along with Felix (Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (Jane Lynch), helps Vanellope finish the race and return the game to its original state – exposing King Candy and revealing Vanellope as the princess of Candy Rush.

What I love about this is that Vanellope’s dramatic change (and the rest of the character’s as a result) comes through a “reboot.” The game needed to be reset to the original design. This drastic change has a ripple effect on the gaming world – restoring lost relationships and creating new communities of friendship and trust.

This is the story of the Gospel. Humanity cannot save itself. We need a “reboot.” We need some way to restore the world to its original design. God created us to be in relationship with Him and to be in relationship with other people.

We have no power in ourselves to repair the damage caused by sin. Jesus Christ entered human history to pay the price for our sin and restore our true identity. He renewed our relationship with God and made a way to be reconciled to others.

The apostle Paul put it like this:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

(2 Corinthians 5:16-21, ESV)

In light of these verses, let me offer a Christian mantra…

“Because of sin I am bad, and that’s not good.

On my own I can’t be good, and that’s pretty bad.

But in Christ I am no longer bad, and that’s pretty good.

Now there is no one I’d rather be than the redeemed me.”