We watched the film "Flight" last Friday. I can't recommend it because of the full frontal nudity in the first 5 minutes. But once you get past that, it deals with the gritty reality of alcohol and drugs as a means of escape.
Denzel Washington's character is an airline pilot. He is an alcoholic, with a failed marriage, who uses cocaine to restore his faculties before flying. The film starts with him puling off an extraordinary manoeuvre to save the lives of almost all of the passengers on a flight, after the controls of the plane he is captaining fail at 31,000 ft. No one else could have done it. It is described as a miracle. Yet the toxicology report on his blood say that he's drunk and high on cocaine.
The rest of the film deals with his flight from the reality of his alcoholism, despite numerous opportunities to begin to address it. This is played out on a back drop of the media worshipping him as hero, whilst the airline tries to cover up his blood tests. The film is laced with Christian imagery and themes. Most of it a bit weird.
(Spoiler Alert!) Finally at the inquest into the accident. Having been praised by the examiner, he cannot bring himself to keep lying. He confesses that he is an alcoholic.
The final scene has him in prison, speaking to a group therapy session about how thankful he is for what has happened. I just couldn't keep lying anymore, he says. "And funny as this may sound considering where I am. For the first time in my life I feel free."
So much our culture is about escaping reality. From the edited version of ourselves that we publish on Facebook, to the careful grooming that many people need to feel happy with the way they look before they go out.
But our biggest cover up is the way that we fail to acknowledge what our hearts are really like. We won't admit to our faults and failures. Our selfishness and sin. We can't separate the word "sorry" from the word "but", as we seek to maintain the lie of our self-righteousness. A lie which is dangerous to ourselves and hurtful to others.
Jesus says to some self-righteous religious leaders, that if they hold to his teaching, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
What Jesus shows us is the truth about ourselves and the truth about him.
We need to face the fact that "...everyone who sins is a slave to sin." (John 8:34). Like an alcoholic we are incapable to dealing with our heart addiction to self-love and self-rule.
But if we will own the way we have treated God and each other, and come to Jesus, we will know that "...if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8;36)