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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Moffit

Every Good Story is a Gospel Story

Updated: Jan 30

Have you ever noticed how many great movies seem to have gospel themes in them? By “gospel themes,” I refer to the overarching redemptive story that we find in scripture of Creation – Fall – Redemption - Restoration. Even hugely popular movies like Star Wars and Avatar, which present their “universe” in terms contrary to the God of the Bible, can’t help themselves. In the end, their stories, which tout eastern religion’s pantheist impersonal force, are redemptive stories flush with gospel themes and the triumph of good over evil. I find it interesting that even when great story tellers actively seek to “suppress the truth,” they end up proclaiming it! Why? Because every good story is a gospel story! It is hardwired in us! Which is exactly what we would expect if we believe the redemptive story of scripture is true.


Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God “has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” What does it mean that God has put eternity into man’s heart? It means that we all have a deep seeded human instinct implanted in our very nature that echoes in our hearts where we come from, where we ought to be, how we get there, and what “there” looks like. Creation – Fall – Redemption – Restoration. Yet, fallen man suppresses the truth in unrighteousness exchanging the truth about God for a lie, and so we cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end without him revealing the truth to us in his word and by his Holy Spirit. We need the true God to break into our lies so that we can rightly interpret the eternity he has put in our heart. However, even those who wrongly interpret eternity written upon their hearts can’t help but let it slip out sometimes because we are all created in God’s image.


Creation

We all know that things are not as they should be! We came from something better, something good, something harmonious!


Fall

Yet, we are not where we ought to be! Something is broken – severely broken. We look at the world the way it is and are not satisfied. This isn’t the way it was supposed to be!


Redemption

We need a hero to save us. All our attempts to save ourselves have come up short. We only seem to make things worse.


Restoration

We instinctively know there is a conclusion to the story. History is not an endless cycle that continues forever but an end is in sight and longed for by every human heart. This end isn’t just a return to Eden but a consummation – where everything that is broken is restored and also made full and final so that it can never be broken again.


So, let’s return to see some gospel themes in the two examples above which actively seek to suppress the truth.


Star Wars

The Star Wars universe with its Buddhist and Taoist influences is one in which the force is the all-supreme power. In Obi-Wan’s words the force is “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.” There is no personal Creator God to which we are accountable. There is no right and wrong – suffering is the result of attachment. So, Yoda implores young Anakin to “train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” In other words, "don’t love and you won’t get hurt; love and you'll become a Dark Sith Lord." Suffering is a sort of illusion brought about by attachment but if you aren’t attached then you won’t suffer, ironically making the ideal a loveless universe. The goal of the universe is simply balance – i.e. to “bring balance to the force.” We can clearly see the influence of eastern religion’s Yin and Yang, which is a philosophical concept to describe two opposite but interconnected forces. Yet, they both have their rightful place. Good is not more powerful than evil nor even more desirable. The goal is simply for everything to be in balance.


Yet, anyone who has watched Star Wars knows this just isn’t the case! Balance isn’t the goal at all. Evil is insidious and toxic. Evil doesn’t need to be balanced with good; it needs to be conquered by it. Usher in the various heroes throughout the Star Wars series who in love sacrifice their own good and safety to bring salvation to others. Redemption and restoration is offered to all, even the evil murdering madmen, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. Good triumphs over evil bringing redemption and restoration.


Avatar

Avatar’s universe is very similar to Star Wars with a slight panentheistic twist. The god of the Na’vi, Eywa, is the powerful force present on Pandora. She is also referred to as the “All-Mother” or “Great Mother.” Yet, true to eastern religion and western spirituality's neo-paganism, Eywa is not really personal. She is simply a force that brings balance, a biological sentient that guides life. Like Star Wars, there is no room with this kind of deity for the triumph of good over evil. However, the redemptive story of the Bible could not be more clear. Creation – Pandora is a peaceful and harmonious moon planet. Fall – Pandora is invaded by an outside evil force destroying life as it should be. Redemption – an unexpected hero comes from the outside incarnate in Na’vi form to save the Na’vi from this evil. Restoration – the evil force is removed from their world (seemingly for good until Avatar 2 came out a decade later). Good triumphs over evil bringing redemption and restoration.


There is even one point in the movie when Jake, the savior from the outside, prays to Eywa asking for help against the evil force that will continue to “come like a rain that never ends…unless we stop them.” Neytiri, being the good panentheist that she is, hears Jake’s prayer and responds, “Our Great Mother does not take sides, Jake.” This is what the god of eastern religions is – a force – impersonal – balance. How could an impersonal god possibly take sides? Yet, in the final battle, when all seems lost, every living thing on Pandora suddenly comes alive in a singular cause to defeat the invading forces of evil. Eywa did answer Jake's prayer after all so that good could once again triumph over evil.


Eternity in Our Hearts

Eternity is hardwired in us if we are willing to open our eyes to interpret it as God does for us in scripture. Every good story is a gospel story because it is what the human heart longs for. We long for a Savior to redeem and restore us and all of creation. Thankfully, God’s story is equally beautiful and true, and Jesus is the perfect Savior we all long for. His truth echoes in our hearts. Next time you catch a movie keep your eyes open for it!


For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.


Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” - Romans 1:18–25


Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.


For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” - Romans 5:1–11

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