If Eternity Exists, We Are the
Ones with the Real Story.
This past week my wife and I hired our first babysitter in months and headed to the movies. Like millions of Americans, I eat all of my snacks during the previews. I have a very strong opinion on the Twizzlers vs Red Vines debate. (Vines are things you swing from — they are NOT to be eaten.) When the big show begins, I love getting lost in the story. That’s why we love the movies. It’s not that we enjoy passively watching the adventures of other people. No. When we buy our $12 ticket to sit in a darkened theater, the adventure becomes ours as well. WE’RE on board the Millennium Falcon, WE’RE riding shotgun in the crazy car chase, and WE’RE the ones fighting Hydra right alongside Captain America. Be honest - whenever Captain America comes on the screen, doesn’t your posture improve just a little bit? No? Just me?
I walked out of Marvel’s Civil War ready to take on an enemy. I found myself strutting down Hawthorne Street as if I had momentarily inherited Chris Evans’ trapezoids. I may not have been a hero, but I still felt super. When we got home, I paid the babysitter and put my daughter to bed. By the next morning, I was normal again. And that’s the problem.
Christians were never meant to be normal. The superhero movies that are fueling our entertainment industry are profitable for a reason. We have a deep desire to live meaningful, noteworthy lives. This itch gets scratched when we live vicariously through the stories of people in spandex, but it’s not enough. If eternity exists, we are the ones with the real story. It’s time we take it seriously.
1. A Global Task
The only hope for men and women to be rescued from hell and punishment is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived, died, and rose again to pay the price for our sins. Because of Jesus, no one has to ever experience the terror of an eternity apart from God. So… how does the world hear about this game-changing, life-altering truth? That’s where we come in.
- And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15)
- Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:3)
2. Incredible Stakes
Have you ever noticed how many times you’ve seen someone save the world? There are two reasons why this is a common narrative device. First, it looks better in the previews. Who would go to see a movie about a supervillian threatening to take over the municipal government of a small town in Iowa? Here’s the second reason - Hollywood has tapped into a deeper truth. Our world is in trouble.
If eternity is real, then every day bears cosmic stakes. Every 24 hours, 151,600 people are stepping out of this life, and into the next. Many of them have uncertain futures. This is terrifying. This means that 55.3 million people a year are entering into either an amazing afterlife with a benevolent father, or plunging into eternal judgement. If this doesn’t mean anything to you, then something is wrong.
3. Supernatural Abilities
We may have an intimidating task. That’s ok. We have also been given a power that’s greater than the world has ever known.
The Presence of God Himself: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
The Promise of Power: For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Divine Weapons: For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Access to the Throne of God: So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. (Hebrews 4:16)
Unique Spiritual Gifts: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. (Romans 12:6)
Do you know how God has uniquely gifted you through His Spirit? Start by reading the full list here. Need more help? See if a basic online assessment can start pointing you in the right direction. Remember, this is a helpful guide. Nothing beats intimate time with God and personal experience.
4. A Century-Spanning Saga
We are not the center of the universe. We are not even the main character in our own story. This actually makes our lives even more significant. We have an important role to play in a battle that’s been going on for ages. The Bible tells the true story of a God who formed the world and created people in His image. It tells the story of His pursuing, redeeming love. All believers are the recipients of his grace, His mercy, and His affection. When we give our lives to God, we are united with Someone truly epic.
5. A Raging Enemy
A superhero story is only as interesting as its villain. That’s why Star Wars is amazing and Batman Forever was so lame. When it comes to the True Story of the Universe, we are faced with a bitter foe. He is clever, beautiful, and nefarious. He is the mortal enemy of everyone bearing the Image of God. He’s hell-bent on disgracing the King that he betrayed. He is the author of chaos, the source of all shame, and the reason that bad things happen to good people. He is sinister…and his days are numbered.
We don’t go to movies to see the bad guy win. There is a part of our soul that knows that Good will triumph over Evil. We have the chance to fight for the winning team.
- For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)
- “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
Critiquing each other is boring. Fighting battles without merit is frustrating. Watching other people’s adventures feels hollow after a while. The only thing worth living for is the real thing. Now’s your chance. Engage the world’s biggest battle, and use the unique abilities you’ve been given to play your part. Go ahead and forsake the natural. The world needs something more (and so do you).