I love when there is a show I’m drawn to binge on.
It doesn’t happen very often. The first and the greatest was Friday Night Lights. The most recent was Netflix’s Last Kingdom. Utterly great, my wife and I loved it. Concluding those three seasons was the only sad thing about my holiday season. Also during the holidays, we saw the incredibly creative Aquaman which is ruling at the box office, and Bird Box with Sandra Bullock, which everyone seems to be talking about.
What’s the through line of all those scripts? There is a struggle with another world. We’re drawn to these things because we want life to be about more than what it is right now. More than about my cable bill, more than about my 8-5 job. More than about my expanding or shrinking waistline. More than just what I can see.
Our entertainment choices are so predictable. Big budget action flicks rule at the box office. Superhero movies don’t flop. Walking Dead is still walking despite it having a dead premise that isn’t innovative anymore. What all these scripts do is take us out of our humdrum life and temporarily plant us in a struggle of cosmic proportions.
We want and need some other grander narrative to be a part of. Have you ever wondered why we long for something of another realm? Why it is that we’re so drawn to fantasy movies? I think it’s because there’s something inside of us that believes in more. Hollywood is delivering us a fantasy world but there is a real world that reflects that grander narrative. A realm and a hero that is beyond the norm is real, and that thing is Jesus. That thing is His realm.
Ephesians 6: 10-13 says,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
You and I are in a battle. You don’t need to join the military to get into a battle, you don’t need zombies to take over the world to get into a battle. You’re in a battle and God equips you and I with armor to win that battle. One of the weapons is prayer known as “the sword of the spirit.” Another is the “helmet of salvation.” Our salvation wraps around our mind and governs our thoughts. The “breastplate of righteousness.” The “belt of truth.” These are all weapons and pieces of armor we need as we are in the greatest battle that you can possibly be in. There is somebody who’s scheming about your life right now. An entity that has a long game in play to take you down.
I know that the evil one would love to take my marriage down. It’s a scheme of his, because there are things that I’m not going to be able to do if my marriage goes down. There are things that the evil one wants to take you down on. He wants you to overspend. He wants you to be bitter toward your parents and how they did you wrong. He’s scheming so that you think more about how people have done you wrong, than you do about the kingdom of God and pushing it forward. He is scheming to have you drawn to that person at work. Changing your traffic patterns as you walk through the cubicles to go by that person, to flirt with someone you shouldn’t be flirting with.
He’s scheming right now for you to believe that recreational marijuana is no big deal. He’s scheming right now for you to think it’s fine to get high. Who’s going to get hurt? You are. Because when you’re in a battle, you can’t win if you’re freaking high. He’s scheming right now to have you comb through news articles and social media that feed the fears inside of you. He’s scheming to keep as many advertisements in front of you so you keep spending to zero and not funding the kingdom of God. If he can get you to not tithe, he is winning, because the war effort won’t be funded. It’s not by accident.
The verses in Ephesians 6 continue and say,
We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers over this present darkness and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
That person, or that group that you hate on or you immediately judge if they voted differently than you did or if they made a choice that you wouldn’t have made. You know what this verse says? We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. As my friend Greg Boyd said, if it bleeds, it’s not your enemy. We’re wrestling against principalities and powers in a different realm.
The very fact that we are so drawn to adventure stories and sci-fi is a sign of God placing eternity in our hearts. We want something more than what we see. We haven’t dreamed up our faith. God placed this faith in us. Every human being wants something above and beyond the physical world. That thing is not Aquaman, it’s not a strange force that’s going to require a blindfold like Sandra Bullock had. It’s not a force that’s going to take us back to the time of Vikings. It is happening right now, and God wants you to be the tip of the spear. Do not be deluded. Your 8-5 job is part of the fight. Your relational rhythms are a part of the fight. Your sexual choices are part of the fight. How you manage your finances is part of the fight. Your time of prayer is part of the fight.
That’s how important our lives and our choices are. In 2019, let’s not just think about resolutions that are around our waistline. Let’s push on the forces of darkness. They’re scheming against our demise. Let’s recognize that 2019 should be a year where we charge into battle with purpose and an exhilarating grander narrative.