This past weekend, something fun and unique happened in our culture. Much of the country was focused on two movies which happened to debut on the same weekend. In this day of have-it-your-way right away, and an overload of personalized choices wherever you go, it is actually unusual for so many of us to be aware of the same thing at the same time. So even just in this sense, the two-movie weekend was a good thing for our often divided country.
These two movies could not have been more different, at least on the surface. Barbie wins the day for promotional prowess, with bright pink, sunny cheerfulness everywhere in the year leading up to the debut. Oppenheimer, in contrast, is gloomy and dark and somber, both in media and in storyline. One deals with fantasyland, and the other with something more real-life-and-death than any of us ever wanted. But upon closer inspection and introspection, it turns out that they are about exactly the same thing - the fact that the world is broken and needs fixing.
Most of us spend much of our lives dealing with the harsh reality that life is just not easy. There are moments, even seasons of relative peace and plenty in most of our lives, but no matter where you live or what your family history entails, life is most often filled with a maze of difficult relationships and situations to navigate. None of us can escape conflict, whether it be world-war scale ideology versus ideology, nation against nation, tribe against tribe, us against them, all the way down to a very personal me versus you…”this is my dream house, not yours.”
Making matters worse is the deeply embedded idea that life should be easy, and could be easy, if only everyone else would cooperate. But it is so interesting to consider how differently we all think! We do not have the same opinions or tastes. We do not have the same experiences or perspectives. Even people who were born to the same parents and grew up in the exact same home can be as different as night and day. Some people think we should all hop out of bed, and not waste a single second of the day until we get back in bed at the end of day, while others are dizzied by such behavior and think things should be significantly slower paced. Some want everyone to be dressed formally, while others rejoice at the comfort of athleisure wear. Some love classical music, while others love rap. NASCAR versus a polo match, chocolate or vanilla, Coke or Pepsi - this could go on for days. Some of us love pineapple on pizza, mayonnaise on sandwiches, and nothing spicy on anything, while others think all of those things are fighting words.
Our tastes and perspectives are so different! We all know this, we see this every day in almost every conversation we have. Yet, every one of us are continually shocked that not everyone around thinks exactly the same way as me. Still we somehow forge ahead, believing that peace will be achieved when everyone finally thinks and acts exactly like we do. Everyone is limited by this same self-centered perspective. We can only see what we can see, and from where we’re standing, our way looks better than everyone else’s. Each of us is afflicted with a common malady - selfishness.
So, everyone can agree that the world is broken and needs fixing, but what is the solution? Here come the disagreements again. Some would say more money can fix things, but then we argue endlessly whether the capitalists or communists have got the right idea. Some would say that better education might help, but then we can’t agree on what the curricula or faculties should be like. Many hope that politics and good governance might help, but the divisions in thinking here are so vast as to be nearly laughable. Then there is religion - but that especially gets so complicated and messy so fast, and there are as many opinions around the world to which way is the right way as there are flavors of ice cream. No matter what solution is offered, someone will always think it was a poor choice, or that everyone is doing it incorrectly.
As different as both of the aforementioned movies seem, they actually agree that the world is broken. But who can fix it? Again, a question that leads to so much disagreement. One of the movies last week decided that the people who had a turn had really messed things up, so let the other group have a shot, no matter the cost or resultant dissonance. In the second movie, the solution was scientists developing ethically complex and terrifying weaponry to attempt to keep everyone in the world from going any further down the road to destruction, and everyone is still arguing whether it should have been done or not. It seems we will never agree on who ought to make an attempt to make things better. Should it be the Boomers or the Millennials, the left or the right, the poor or the rich, the east or the west, and on and on? No matter who tries to help, someone will always think the attempt was severely lacking and missed the mark.
Eight billion people alive today, all saddled with a self-centered perspective and point of view. A broken planet full of strife and suffering, with no agreement on the horizon of what should be done to make things better or by whom. We keep on looking to the same things to fix our problems - money, education, governance, strict adherence to the rules of religion, science and technology, military might, yet our problems remain. Now we have added 24/7 access to the internet and algorithms working overtime to keep us feeling that everyone else is doing everything wrong.
Are we doomed? Should we all just give up trying to fix our broken world?
If only there was someone who could help us - someone who could bring a solution that could eradicate our universal problem of selfishness and self-interest…
Of course, there is Someone who can do that.
Jesus Christ has come to take away the sin and selfishness of the world. Emmanuel, God with us, imparts His own righteousness to us, replacing our hard hearts of stone with new, soft hearts. By the Holy Spirit, our selfish perspective is changed to an others-focused perspective. By God’s grace, when I come to Him and surrender my selfish will, He fills my heart and life with beautiful, fruitful things - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Jesus gives us the very thing we need, but can never give ourselves - a spiritual change of heart. He helps us to be able to truly love our neighbors as we love ourselves, even if they think or look or act really differently than we do.
Now, imagine how wonderful it might be if there was a whole group of people in every land and village who were set free from the tyranny of selfishness, and could see that every one of their neighbors, near and far, were just as valuable as themselves. Think what it could be like if a group of people like this stopped expecting everyone, everywhere to think exactly like themselves, and just introduced others to Jesus. He could give so many others new hearts, too, and by His Spirit could bring out the very best in each person. Soon, it would be a world made better by people with hearts filled with love and forgiveness, hope and joy, care and concern; with people who can and will help one another, and who can appreciate and respect the image of God stamped on every life.
This is God’s great plan to fix the broken world. God loves every one of the wildly different people on the planet - He is the One who made us with such different preferences and ways of thinking! He sent His Son who willingly gave His life so that anyone who will accept Him can be set free. Now He fills us with His Holy Spirit and sends us out to share the great news with everyone in our lives. We are a big part of His plan.
So please don’t give up! No matter how dark things get, no matter how rampant sin and selfishness run, keep letting the love and light of Jesus shine through your life. Everyone around you needs to know of God’s great love…
How amazing that the Lord of All gives us the dignity to be a part of His plan! I’m so pleased to offer a new book to you over this very subject. Of course, I hope you will read it and be blessed as an individual, but even better would be to read it with a group of friends. There has never been a better time for followers of Jesus to have a healthy understanding of God’s purpose and plan, and how each of our lives fits into His story. This is the perfect time for people who want to help this broken world to enter into discussion about what that could look like in our own homes and communities.
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Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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