Last night we went to see the next instalment of the funniest group of super heroes in the Marvel collection, the Guardians of the Galaxy. We roared with laughter (maybe a bit too loudly!) and rejoiced as they triumphed again. But by the end I felt like I'd seen it all before. And I have!
What follows does not need a spoiler alert, because there are no specific details of the film. It's just that the component parts seemed rather familiar. Here they are:
1. There are saviours. These are the people who are "good" as opposed to the people who are "bad". You are to root for the good people. Good people save helpless people from bad people.
2. The saviours are anti-establishment. They don't fit in with the important people. They're misunderstood.
3. The saviour(s) is at some point in the film rejected by the majority of the "helpless" people that they have come to rescue (See the Avengers for an example)
4. Saving people involves sacrifice, possibly death, certainly a willingness to die. There is almost always a moment when we think the saviour will die.
5. In the end the Saviour is victorious. The helpless people are saved.
6. There is a movement from dysfunctional to functional relationships through the film. The saving experience brings people together in friendship, love and family.
This is the plot of almost all the Marvel Avenger films, most of the James Bond films and a lot of others to boot. It is of course the plot of the gospel.
1. 1 Timothy 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
2. Mark 3:6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
3. Mark 15:11-13 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. “Crucify him!” they shouted.
4. 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
5. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...
6. 1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
What is extraordinary is that no other world view has this story line. No other religious leader went to his death deliberately as a way of saving his people. No other philosophy of life advocates laying down your life for the sake of others.
Yet because we are created in the image of the God whose story this is, we just can't stop ourselves telling it over and over again. And cheering on the saviour every time. Whether we believe in The Saviour or not.