(Photo: Fox Searchlight)
In the cinematic garden of Pirates, Pandas, and Part II of The Hangover, we find a fascinating offering that stands like a tree in the middle of the multiplex lists.
I’m talking about The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn. It’s basically an experiential film that opens your heart up to everything from family issues (got some?) to The Big Bang that started this whole shebang in the first place. Summarizing The Tree of Life would be like trying to nail Jello to a wall…so you’ll have to take my word on its quality.
Keep in mind, though, that this picture won’t take you to 3-D stranger tides or rev up your adrenaline to fast and furious levels, but it may well be worth shelling out the $300 bucks (or whatever movie prices are these days) to get you to process some extremely critical questions.
I know, I know. You’ve probably finished finals and have unplugged your brain from anything more challenging than what new structure you should build in Mindcraft or how you can resolve your clothes crises…but follow me to the edge of where your deepest feelings about life begin. Let me lay out God’s script for a perfect existence that got hijacked by the darkest of evil and produced every manner of trial and tribulation that infests and infects our world - but can be reclaimed if we are willing to play our part.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...(Genesis 1:1).
No arguments or evidence for God’s existence here - just a simple acknowledgement that He exists. And since this majestic and multifaceted universe CANNOT have come about by chance or from nothing, we know that the origin of reality was spoken into existence from an infinite, all powerful, and loving heavenly Creator. Plus…
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27).
Yep - that’s you and me. Not a product of mindless mutation, but the crowning achievement in all of God’s artistic genius. Stamped with His very image so we can create, reflect, and relate to each other and our world…we were set up for paradise with every possible advantage. But…
She took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves (Genesis 3:6-7).
There was only one rule in Paradise - set up to show that we would choose God willingly. But that original rebel, Satan, whispered dissension in our ear, and we lusted for God’s job - and in doing so we brought about the fall of Humanity. We hid from God and tried to hide our shame. Until…
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:10-12).
This little child lived the perfect life that we could never live. He died the horrible death that we should have died in payment for our sins. He now offers eternal life to anyone with the humility and sense to receive this gift of God by grace through faith. This joyful news is meant for everyone, everywhere, and the best part is…
Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The story continues with you and me in the leading roles. We carry the very authority and presence of Jesus Christ as we carry the message of salvation and deliverance to our friends and family who don’t see any end to the nightmare that life often produces. And there’s one more thing:
The Final Act:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:1;4).
The Tree of Life movie will raise questions about who we are, where we come from, why we are here, and how will it end. But praise God - you don’t have to worry! You are handcrafted by God with an eternal purpose and destiny. His cause for you is THE Cause…so go follow your script this summer and let God use you to be a source of life to everyone around you!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
At some point, most people wrestle with questions about where they come from, why are they here, etc. This week, ask your friends where they think everything came from, and what their role in the big picture of life is. Pray for an opportunity to share what you’ve learned from this Soul Fuel so you can share the true answers from the Word of God.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Father, thank you and praise you for creating the Earth and the universe. Thank you also for breathing life into me and creating me in Your image. Help me to use my time here to help fulfill your Great Commission to make disciples of everyone by being a part of THE Cause.
Read: Acts 1:8. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Get: For help explaining the gospel to your friends, try sharing the video Life in 6 Words with them. Check it out, then pick up a hi def copy for your church or youth group at the Dare 2 Share webstore.