This past weekend Adam, the oldest son, and I went to the Uptown Landmark Theater in Minneapolis to see the Black & Chrome edition of Mad Max: Fury Road. I have seen Fury Road at least three times before but there was something about watching it at the Landmark that helped me to see elements that I hadn’t seen before. Maybe it was the Black & Chrome version of the film (it was seriously awesome in black & white) or maybe it was seeing it on the big screen for the first time that helped me to see these elements (wow the chase scenes were incredible on the big screen). I’m not sure which. What I know is that the movie went from being a movie that I like to being a movie that I love. One of the things that I loved about the movie was its redemptive aspect. This really stood out as Adam and I watched it. I hadn’t noticed before how much of the story was about redemption.
At the moment Pam and I are watching PBS’s version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. If you have ever read the book, watched this wonderful version of Hugo’s book, or watched the musical adaptation of the book then you know this too is a story of redemption. It is such a good book.
There are redemption stores all around us. We are desperate for them.
Unfortunately often in the church we become fascinated with holiness stories. Actually outside of the church we do the same thing, we just don’t call it holiness. Instead outside the church we just focus on people’s faults, rather than calling them sin, and specifically the faults that aren’t like ours (because our faults aren’t really that bad, are they?). So both in the church and outside of the church we often focus on telling people to follow the social norms, the law, the unspoken customs, or doing the proper religious actions. When people don’t do those we jump in, call them out, and revel in the fact that we are briefly “better” than whoever we just called out. Pointing out someone else’s sin or fault give us a brief, perverse feeling of superiority.
Holiness is good, please don’t think I am saying otherwise. It just isn’t the center of Christianity. Redemption, specifically redemption through the death and life of Jesus, is the center of Christianity. God is holy and a part of His holiness is that He consistently redeems those who He has called to be holy but who unfortunately haven’t been able to be holy like He is holy (Leviticus 11:44). All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), BUT God so loves us that He gave His only begotten Son that we might not perish for our lack of holiness (John 3:16). To be a follower of Christ is to be someone who claims the ultimate redemption story. In a world that loves to tell redemption stories in our media (books, film, music, etc) but doesn’t actually want to allow for the sacrificial forgiveness of redemption in real life (what do you mean that I am supposed to love the one who hurt me?) we followers of Jesus need to be the people who actually believe in and practice real redemption.
Real redemption is costly. Real redemption is difficult. Real redemption is messy. Real redemption is beautiful. Real redemption is what the world longs for and what we in the church have through Jesus.