In Spirit Blog

We’ve been a bit off the radar here at Back to Eden Group in the past month.  This spring has brought a combination of a large business consulting engagement and the long awaited landscaping season, plus our recent S.E.E. event in Denver.  Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat with this flurry of activity.

Notwithstanding all of the busyness, we have been able to take in three movies which resulted in some serious big screen inspiration.  Captain America – Winter Soldier, Divergent and Heaven is for Real have triggered some deep reflection and insight which has encouraged us so I will endeavour to pass some on to you.  While these movies are nothing like one another and were likely intended for much different audiences, there is something profound being communicated at this time and place in our culture.  There are some very common themes that are worth highlighting.  Note that I will use many character names and words that will mean little to you if you have not seen the movies or are not familiar with the stories.  If so, go and see one or all of them and reread this blog.  They are worth your time and money.  Of course, beware of plot spoilers to come…

Revelation (or special insight) is not always welcome.

Heaven is for Real ColtonIn Heaven is for Real, the young boy who visited heaven (Colton Burpo) simply talks about what he saw while there.  This creates significant discomfort for his father, mother, church congregation and community.  Why?  There is no attempt to convince anyone.  Just telling it like it is.  Perhaps truth that doesn’t align with our experience or beliefs upsets our universe, even if the story is positive and uplifting.  Why does good news create such a negative reaction?

Divergent has a completely different angle on this same theme.  Those that are a threat to the faction system or hierarchy that runs the physical world have a habit of simply perceiving and telling the truth at the most awkward times.  They are a threat because they simply won’t fit in to their “rightful place” in society and are unafraid to speak the truth and are ready to face serious danger on a regular basis because of this conviction.

Captain America’s observations about the reality of who S.H.I.E.L.D. really is are not well received.  His life is in regular danger because of his commitment to the revelation he has about the organization.

People who regularly say they have the best interests of the group in mind, probably don’t.

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-Captain-America-and-Alexander-PiercePerhaps this is the classic posture of every villain every portrayed in film but the point remains.  Isn’t it interesting that the person/group saying they are just thinking about what is best for everybody actually has an agenda for what is best for them?  Colton Burpo’s church board, the leaders of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Erudites in Divergent all claimed to have the group’s best interests in mind.  Even more chilling is the extent to which they were willing to go to supposedly preserve this “best interest”.  Silencing through intimidation, violence or even murder of those within the “group” supposedly for the best interest of the same “group”.

When you’ve reached the point where you are willing to harm the very group you claim to be acting in the best interests of to preserve what you have, you have reached the ultimate twisted deception.  Of course the first step is to isolate the member of the “group” as different.  Once that is done, they are no longer part of the “group” and must be eliminated to preserve those remaining.  This is the strategy behind persecution throughout the ages.  Of course the Divergent, justice seekers and heaven visitors simple continue to tell the truth and live in alignment with it, which only intensifies the persecution.

If you believe strongly in something, acting on it will cost you everything.

There is a touching scene in Captain America where he visits the bedside of an old woman who was his romantic interest in the previous movie, set during WWII.  His passion for justice and truth in that story ended up with him apparently dying but being frozen in time until he is called upon again in a new generation (new movie).  Unfortunately they have been separated by time and space and are now two very different people.  The pain as they lament what has been lost is very real and powerful.

Todd Burpo (father of the young boy Colton) is a pastor of a small church and leader in his community.  Just being willing to listen to his son’s stories from heaven, wrestling with their significance and ultimately accepting them nearly costs him his church position, respect in the community and threatens his marriage.

divergent-shailene-woodleyDivergent takes this issue to another level.  Being “Divergent” means that you don’t fit into any faction and in fact share the positive strengths of each of them – courage, selflessness,  intelligence, peacefulness and honesty.  However, this in itself is not what is costly since many may share in these beliefs.  What separates the “Divergent” from everyone else is that they also act on these convictions.  They are willing to invest more passion in what they believe than their evil opposition.  This is what makes them dangerous.  Divergent.

One person with belief, passion and commitment can change the world.

This is likely the best and most encouraging theme that all three of this movies share.  Whether you are Tris Prior, Colton Burpo or Captain America, one person can make a difference and change the world.  It could be a city (Tris), worldwide (Captain America) or a small town (Colton).  The scope and scale doesn’t matter.  The point is clear.  You can make a difference.  Life can have greater purpose.

Ultimately, all three of these movies emphasize positive virtues and the battles fought to fully live them out.  Only one (Heaven is for Real) is based on a true story, while the other two are fiction, delivering the same message through powerful metaphor.  Conviction of what is right and true is the clear motivator in all three.  However, perhaps a clue to empower this conviction is set before us in the true story.  When you are convinced of the reality of heaven, God and the love of Jesus, nothing else matters.  No resistance, opposition, persecution or violence can separate you from it, which means there is nothing to fear. The Kingdom of God is the ultimate big screen and this is the ultimate big screen inspiration.

What revelation or insight have you been entrusted with?  Do you believe you can change your community, workplace, city or family?  What are you waiting for?

John Matthews


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Showing 4 comments
  • k.noel

    I wish you added movie “Gods not dead”. This is right up there with meaning, purpose, intelligence and courage. This is partly why I like movies so much. It gives a visual creative window into a principle, idea or theory that can be experienced, discussed, felt, or pondered on. And in so b it can spur us on to more. (Yes a movie can)

    I have only seen one of these above, but the truth of the Gospel is everywhere. Its just a matter if if you want to see it.

  • B2E Group

    Haven’t seen that one so didn’t include it. There seems to be a trend lately in movies for the deeper virtues of life which of course align with the character of God and fruits of the Spirit.

  • James Thomas Canali

    I think the movies definitely capture the struggle of our age. As I have recently seen divergent I think it is a parallel as relevant as the matrix. Our reality has been determined by powers of the age ruling through institutions, trying to make sure things are as they have always been. I think the revelation of Christ and of the movies is that there is now a pathway to diverge from institutions that establish illusions as reality.

  • B2E Group

    The opportunity to be truly empowered apart from institutions has never been greater.

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