If you want to know what’s going on in our culture, go to the movies. Screenwriters are not only amazing storytellers; they also have a way of tapping into the soul of society, resonating with large audiences. Movies work like a mirror that reflects how the culture is feeling.
For example, in 1977, 1980, and 1983, the Star Wars trilogy dominated the box office. George Lucas told a story about a dark force that was clouding the galaxy as the evil empire was developing a weapon that could wipe out a whole planet. But there was hope that the Jedi knights would come to the rescue.
Why did that story resonate with the culture?
Well, what was going on in the 70s and 80s?
The Cold War.
A dark force called communism was sweeping the globe, and our enemies in the USSR were developing atomic bombs that could wipe out the whole planet. But there was hope that the good guys would come to the rescue.
Dark stories with unstoppable villains
So, what stories are screenwriters producing today? And what do they tell us about the culture?
One popular movie is the Dark Phoenix.
It’s a story of a hero turning dark, becoming an unstoppable villain. This isn’t the only story with that theme. Dark villains have become the main characters in many current movies, such as . . .
Avengers: Infinity War
Joker (all villain, no Batman)
Terminator: Dark Fate
Why are these dark stories with unstoppable villains resonating with so many people? Well, consider the world that millennials have experienced. They’ve grown up in a post-mass-school-shooting, post-9/11 world. They’ve seen many of their favorite institutions and notable leaders fall into scandal.
For many young people, the world seems to lack heroes. Many believe all they can do is protect themselves and hide from their enemies. Which is exactly the central theme of the latest movies.
No wonder so many people are filled with uncontrollable anxiety and fear.
A story of hope and a hero
That’s why we need to start telling a different story.
The biblical story.
The biblical story explains why this world seems so dark and evil is so prevalent. Sin has invaded God’s creation.
But that’s not how it always was, and that’s not how it will always be. God created a good world with good people who had good work to do. And because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has promised to restore all things, even this world, to the way it was, but even better.
Even now, we have hope. Our hope is not in the past; nor is it just in some future day. We have hope right now that Jesus is the hero of history, and he is in control, holding back evil and using all suffering for his glory.
What story are you telling yourself?
Are you buying into the story the world is telling, namely, there are no more heroes, the world is turning dark, just hide away and protect yourself?
Or are you telling yourself the “Jesus wins” story, a story of hope, healing, and a happy ending?
The Bible says that the mind controlled by the world’s story is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit’s story is life and peace (Romans 8:6).
The “Jesus wins” story is not just a fairy tale to make you feel better. It’s the truth that has already begun to be realized in Jesus and among his people.
So go to the movies. They will reveal to you the soul of society.
But then go to the Scriptures. They will tell you the truth about where our story is ultimately headed.
Spoiler alert: Our story ends happily ever after.
Pastor Ben Sadler has served as a full-time pastor since 2010. He began his ministry at a Spanish-speaking congregation in Florida. From 2014 to 2019, he served at Goodview Trinity Church in Minnesota. Currently, he is at Victory of the Lamb in Wisconsin. He is married to Emily, and they have three children. Ben loves to spend time with his family, ride his road bike, read, write, and preach.
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