The Movie Theater
How often have you spent a lazy winter day watching a movie as the world swirled about outside the theater? Lost in a quick succession of action scenes, drawn into some love affair between the leading actors, actual life becomes irrelevant. Financial worries fade away and problematic relationships wander from the mind. There is only the bright, fast moving screen, loud music and the aroma of popcorn. As in a dream, a bullet spitting Ferrari replaces the broken car. The rent is not only paid, but a fabulous mansion sprouts up around you. Even your jeans transform into a perfectly fitted tuxedo or glamorous dress. After a couple of hours, the credits roll onto the screen and you arise to reenter the world that you came from. It is a colder world, more uncomfortable but real.
It seems as if some people live their entire lives within a virtual movie theater. Having constructed a world in which they are the leading man or lady, all supporting actors and actresses take their places within their imaginary matinee. All that lies outside their self- constructed theater recedes from view. You have met the mother who is so concerned with her own problems that she is unaware of her children’s emotional needs. Perhaps you know the husband who is fighting dragons at work and never sees his wife before nine at night. Teenagers abound who know virtually nothing about their parents. All these people are watching a self-directed movie. The soundtrack in their minds drowns out the voices of those around them. Life moves on but they are nestled safely in their seats, immersed in the plot, imagined fiends stalking their every move and all those around them bit actors and walk-ons. They wake daily and enter the theater, the door closing behind them and the screen filling with their own features. The audience cheers with each great victory. They have arrived. They have finally found themselves in a place where the credits never roll onto the screen, and they are the Star.
Christ has called us to a life of reality outside the movie theater. Jesus wants us to share His life, inviting us to enjoy all that He has made. When, instead, we are nestled in our own movie, we cast everyone as the person we imagine them to be. In reality, we are talking to ourselves, loving ourselves, alone in an empty theater. Jesus calls us to interact with real people. While inconvenient, and often frustrating, the people around us were uniquely designed by God to help us become the people that we are called to be. The weather outside the theater might be stormy and the passersby irritable, but at least they are real. Jesus created us to become deeply involved with the feelings and thoughts of others. It is uncomfortable, but real love demands real people and often requires real repentance. When Jesus calls us to follow Him, he is not on His way to the movies. We discover, like Zacchaeus, that He is on His way to our home.