I Just finished watching a movie on my flight, This is Where I Leave You. The film was extremely well written, with powerful performances and real-to-life characters. There was just one problem… I walked away content with my own sin.
Life sucks. So do what feels good at the moment.
Here lies the struggle: touching film… bleak perspective
One of the main reasons I enjoyed the movie was the authentic characters with genuine problems. They were blemished, just like me and just like the people sitting in the pews with me every week. But the reason I actually sit in the pew every week is because I desperately need Jesus, and he’s the only one who can solve my sin problem.
That’s Christianity in a nutshell: realize your own shortcomings, understand you can’t do anything about it on your own, and in faith, ask Jesus to do it for you. It’s not very macho. Quite the opposite really. It’s admitting we need help. The good news is, Jesus gives us a clean slate immediately (justification) and begins the slow process of cleaning up our lives part by part (sanctification).
But the world doesn’t like that message. Our dependence on Christ kicks us out of the driver’s seat and doesn’t allow us to do whatever we desire… and that’s really where the problem lies for most.
In This is Where I Leave You the blemished characters acted out in desperation, sleeping around on their spouses, drinking, smoking pot… sometimes to numb the pain, and sometimes exploring greener pastures, only to find out that the grass isn’t always greener. Then they wondered why their lives were so messed up. Jason Bateman’s character even asked, “Is it just our family, or is everyone miserable?” (Of the five lead characters, not one had a healthy marriage.)
Don’t get me wrong; I actually enjoyed much of this film, especially the elements where the family bonded together through the tough circumstances. I don’t mind movies showing the breakdown of the family and the pain that goes along with it. Some of my favorite films have done this, and done this well. It’s difficult to label a film like this all “good” or “bad.” The film was gritty. It was really touching at moments… and then really bleak.
But that’s where the movie “leaves you”, so to speak: life sucks, and just make the best of it, because… this is all there is.
Thankfully, that’s not true. There’s more. If you want to see it, go to the funeral of someone who put their hope in Jesus. My friend’s mom just died and I went to her funeral. Unlike the funeral in this movie, the funeral I attended was a celebration. Countless friends and relatives shared stories of happy moments, and a happy ending. And every last one of them mentioned how comforting it is to know we will see her once again.
In the movie Tina Fey asked, “Do we believe in God?”
Talk about your bleak funerals.
Yes, ironically, life does suck when you do whatever you desire. That’s a pretty accurate definition of sin—doing things our way, not God’s way. Life is so much more than the quick thrill. Point of fact, the quick thrill often costs long-term.
God wants to save us from all of that.
No, that doesn’t mean we’ll avoid all pain. But it does mean two things:
- God will help us stop bringing pain on ourselves
- He’ll help us endure through suffering, with the hope there’s something so much better, a hope that helps us here and now.
Frankly, the movie didn’t provide a happy ending because the filmmakers didn’t seem to believe in happy endings… only happy moments.
I love happy moments.
But faith in God provides happy moments and a happy ending.