Thursday, March 31, 2011

Magnolia : A Case Study - Part 2

So why do so many Christians have problems with films like Magnolia? There is a very difficult concept in the Bible, one that requires the active participation of each believer. It is not easy to understand. You won’t find the direct wording anywhere in the Bible. But the concept is nevertheless interwoven throughout. The idea is that as believers in Christ we are to live in the world but not be of the world. What does that mean?

To have a proper relationship with Magnolia requires an understanding of the Scriptures. I John 2:15 and 16 states, “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world.”

In John 17:11 Jesus says, “Now I am departing the world. I am leaving them behind and coming to you.” Verse 16 says, “They are not part of this world any more than I am. Verse 18 says, “As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.”

Most Christian struggle with these verses. Most of us want a clear definition of what is acceptable and what is not. But you will not find that in the Bible. We can interpret these scriptures however we like. Some of us have concluded that everything in the world is evil, including movies like Magnolia, while others have completely ignored the intent of the writer (the Holy Spirit). How could the world be evil if God created it? Did he not create it for our enjoyment? Magnolia is a great case study because it gets to the heart of the issue. As a Christian, how do I live my life?

What is I John referring to? I don’t believe this is talking about a physical state, such as a physical world. But I think it has more to do with a spiritual condition. How can a beautiful sunrise or a walk in the park be evil? Jesus certainly seemed to embrace life and often did the things that most people engage in. The real issue is when we put anything above and before God. I John is referring to this spiritual condition. It’s at that point when it becomes evil because we put it before God. It’s what we want to do versus our willingness to submit to the will of God. In other words, it’s idolatry. By applying this standard, it means that everything in the physical world has the ability to be good or evil. Remember, Jesus left us in the world for a reason, and that’s to fulfill the Great Commission. We can’t do that unless we embrace and love life, which means we have to love the world, not hate it. If we are not capable of reflecting this, do you think nonbelievers want what we have?

The reality is there are no easy answers. Being in the world but not of the world requires you and I to see everything through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Sure, we know that murder and adultery are evil. But the everyday aspects of life are a whole different matter. That’s why Magnolia gives us so many problems. Where does this fit in with being in the world but not of the world? If Magnolia can be used to draw us to the truth, then it fits in with the proper order of things.

The only way we can make sense of the scriptures and how to live our lives as Christians is to put God first in all things.

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