A horror film with a God twist? Welcome to the end of the world as we know it. Welcome to I Am Legend - now out on DVD.
Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) is an ex-military scientist who's living a nightmare. A mutant measles vaccine, intended to be a cure for cancer, went horrifically awry, bringing death to 90 percent of the earth's population, and turning all but a handful of the few survivors into monstrous vampire-type creatures who feast on blood. As he roams a devastated New York City, Neville, who is immune to the virus, has only his dog Sam for company.
Loneliness, guilt and terror have become his constant companions during the three years since the virus mutation initially ravaged the world. During that time he's been conducting medical experiments, often on himself, trying to find a cure. He's haunted by the pre-disaster Time magazine cover hanging on his refrigerator which depicts him as a famous, ground-breaking scientist. Ironically, the cover photo is captioned "Savior." Robert struggles with the guilt of knowing he was unable to stop the calamity as it was being unleashed, and continues to search for a cure to save those stricken by the virus.
In its depiction of a world filled with horror and tragedy, I Am Legend wrestles with one of the core questions humans have been asking for thousands of years: How could a good God allow this to happen?
Because God designed humans with freewill, the choice to love God or turn away from Him stands at the core of the human story. Choosing a path separated from God and His goodness leads down the road to sin and death - with devastating consequences woven throughout the fabric of human lives. Choosing the path of faith that Jesus laid out for us, leads down the road to a restored relationship with God.
Romans 3:23-25 put it this way:
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. (NLT)
These verses speak clearly to the presence of evil in the human experience and to God's plan for dealing with it. Because these spiritual issues are brushed on in I Am Legend, the movie can be a natural vehicle for discussing spiritual things with your friends. Dr. Neville actually comments at one point in the movie to a fellow-survivor, "God didn't do this, Anna. We [humans] did." A perspective that is spot-on with what the Bible has to say about how the presence of evil entered the human scene and continues to impact human existence.
So whether you choose to see this horror genre movie or not, look for opportunities to use the movie as a springboard for deeper conversation about where evil comes from and what God's plan is for dealing with it. Here are some ideas to consider:
• There's a scene in the movie that displays posters on a vacant building that read "God still loves us." Ask your friends if they've ever asked the question "How could a good God allow this to happen?" Listen, then share what you believe about why God allows evil in the world. For help with this check out the Soul Fuel article Why is the World So Screwed Up? • Dr. Robert Neville wrestles with his 'savior' roll in the movie. Ask your friends what they think of when they hear the word 'savior.' Share what the word means to you.
• When Robert meets another survivor, Anna, she tells him that her hope is in God "He has a plan. He sent me here for a reason." Find out if your friends believe in a personal God who has a plan for humanity and a plan for them personally? Listen, then share what you believe based on Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
• What do you think of Anna's comment, "The world is quieter now. It's easier to hear God."? Explain your experience regarding how God's Word and prayer help you hear God's leading in your life.
While the horrors depicted in I Am Legend may surpass our wildest nightmares, still the sad reality is that sometimes life is horrific. Live with the confidence of knowing that God has a plan in the midst of difficulties and suffering and declare to your world the brave, bold Good News that "God still loves us!"
Jane Dratz works for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.