It’s a scenario that we’ve all likely experienced at one point or another.
It’s Friday night. There’s a movie out that you really want to see–but everyone is busy. Oh, you could go to the theatre by yourself and take it in. I mean, it’s the same movie after all. Still, something feels… off.
The truth is that there’s just something about going to the movies with friends.
Films need to be shared… but why?
This idea has been a topic of conversation amongst my friends for a long time, and I understand why. The viewing of a screen can be a fairly one-directional experience. You receive the image, with no chance to respond directly to the storyteller. Still, there is something within us that drives us to give and share stories. God, the ultimate Narrator, has given us life in the collection of truths through one another’s stories, be it cave paintings or Jurassic World. God invites us to devour Scripture on a daily basis… and what is the Bible except a collection of God stories for our spiritual engagement. (In fact, even blogging is a part of that Divine impulse for social sharing…)
Besides, when we go to a movie, we’re not alone, are we? (Unless you’re taking in Tomorrowland. Yeah, I said it.) No, we’re with a collection of friends and strangers who are engaging the same narrative. We’re being told the same story–and hearing it in completely different ways. It gives even greater opportunity for us to connect with one another and discuss matters of God, love, and life. This connection, especially amongst believers, can be a true God-moment. Scripture says, ‘wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I will be there.’ Although often misquoted, this verse doesn’t seem to limit the location of where God will show up. Even over a coffee, discussing Inside Out.
The problem is we don’t always do that, do we? “I just want to go in there and turn my brain off.” It’s a comment I’ve heard a billion times, from different people. I understand the desire for mindless entertainment. I do it too. I enjoyed–and own–movies like Transformers and What About Bob? But the problem comes when we ignore the fact that we’re being fed a worldview every time we take in media. There’s always a message. If we’re never willing to engage the narrative on any level, we’re just constantly feeding and feeding with no real exercise for our brains.
Most people are comfortable with this. Few people I know really want to grapple with cinematic themes and issues after the lights come up. That’s okay. I understand that. They’ve had a hard day and the experience of being together is enough for them. (Sometimes it is for me too.) Though I wish they understood things from my perspective as well.
When we wrestle with film, what we’re really doing is engaging the narrative in a search for truth. These are the opportunities that God craves because it’s an amazing time to draw near to us. He is a God who exists in Divine community and He yearns for us to find that wholeness in Him.
And, in those moments, we draw near to each other as well.