Over the holidays Peter and I went on a date with our daughter, Bethany. Our choice was to see the movie “Catching Fire”, the second story in the Hunger Games trilogy. We were not disappointed. It was exciting, thought-provoking, tearful/happy and surprising. And as is usual with any good story, there were a couple of lines and situations that took me to a deeper level, illustrating profound truths and offering significant spiritual insights.
Katniss and Peeta had begun their victory tour of the Districts. In addressing the crowds of District 11, Katniss spoke of one of the fallen tributes. As she publicly honored and thanked Thresh, Katniss emotionally alluded to the fact that he could have easily killed her in the games. But instead he showed her mercy. Then later he himself was murdered.
Isn’t this exactly what Jesus Christ has done for us?
As a human being living with a sin-nature, I struggle every day to survive and even thrive in a hostile world. In subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle ways, I pit myself daily against strangers, neighbors, friends and even myself. Life can easily and unconsciously become a contest that hardens my heart and makes me selfishly self-focused. Any so-called goodness I think I possess ultimately doesn’t measure up.
When I come to the end of myself and my own resources — or you do … and eventually you will — what then? At the end of the day, I fall sadly short. I realize that I can’t do life on my own. I need someone to save me out of my sad situation.
I have seen enough of my own frustration and failure to unashamedly admit that without help I will never find the full, satisfying and purposeful life I long for. Like Katniss, my life changed completely when I came face to face with someone who holds my life in his hands. Someone who extends mercy to me. Someone who grants me a future instead of defeat and death.
Jesus could easily kill me. But instead He shows me mercy. And more than that — He offered himself in my place that I might live. Words cannot express my gratitude to this Man! My life is completely different because of Him. I want to honor Him before people.
The other scene in “Catching Fire” that particularly piqued my interest was the conversation that President Snow had with Plutarch Heavensbee. (Is his name an accident? I think not!)
In discussing strategies to control the coming rebellion against the Capital, the dictator Snow remarks that “fear does not work [to oppress the people] when there is hope.”
For as long as I can remember, I have fought with fear. Probably most of us have, if we are honest.
Fear comes in many forms and disguises. For me, it is mostly a battle waged in my mind around issues like being abandoned, getting sick, dying. But however fear stalks us, it oppresses. It depresses. It paralyses. It brings a heavy weight that is hard to bear.
Fear’s power can only be broken by hope born out of love. Where there is hope, fear cannot abide. It sounds simple, but it’s true. The hope I have in Jesus and in His coming Kingdom is the only thing I have discovered that enables me to push back and conquer the fear that relentlessly tries to raid and invade my soul. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?”(Psalm 27:1). His love for me is deep and eternal and perfect. “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18)
So the film reminded me of some invaluable truths. This always makes movie-going a worthwhile activity for me.
Perhaps most of all, the very title “Catching Fire” reminded me of the state I want to be in as I live my life. Every day I want to catch fire – I want to be the lamp that’s lit and set on a hill. I want to be a light to the world, not because of who I am, but because the Light of the world lives and shines through me. I want to burn with mercy and love because Jesus first loved me. I want to be ignited with hope for this age and for the age to come. I want to be a Victor because I have put my faith in Someone who cannot fail – Someone who is coming soon and who will finally put an end to all the “game playing”.
“Catching Fire” is a movie worth seeing in more ways than one.