The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Hebrews 10, verse 1.
Mamma Mia: poke out my eyeballs, please. My wife and I have a running thing about the movie “Mamma Mia.” Me, being (I believe to be) the typical American male would like to never see this time-sucking waste of celluloid expense ever again. My wife, on the other hand, loves the movie and gets peeved with me when I say that (she might get peeved after reading this today). I suppose it’s because I don’t care for Meryl Streep, or because I have testosterone in my system, or because, well, the movie just isn’t my cup of tea (or, since it takes place in Greece, Ouzo). But the movie was on HBO this morning while I was writing this. After watching a few minutes of Pierce Brosnan trying to sing, I drew a parallel between the badly acted ABBA movie and Hebrews 10, verse 1.
Bad things here don’t last because there’s so much more good that’s on the way. Bad things are illusions even when they are actual events or things. Those things don’t define us unless we let them because we are part of the promise of greater things to come.
In “Mamma Mia”, Meryl (in her best Merylish fashion) is a single mom forced to face the consequences of her past. Her daughter is getting married and the three men who might be said daughter’s dad all show up for the wedding. She feels bound and imprisoned by her past choices, defined by them, committed today to a course of action determined only by them. In reading Hebrews 10, however, I saw that this is simply foolish. It’s also just a movie plot.
But movies are supposed to reflect real life. How many of us are stuck on our past? I can’t tell you how many times my own mistakes have come back to haunt me. Even when those days are long gone, sometimes it still hurts, and sometimes I let it hurt. I forget that Christ redeemed me once and forever. Those things that I’ve done that were so wrong don’t matter anymore. Even when they still play out as consequences in my life, I don’t need to bear the guilt of them anymore.
Does this ever happen to you? I bet I know the answer. When it does, here’s another movie song: channel some pitch perfect Anna Kendrick and be “Bulletproof” to your past. It doesn’t define you. It may have defined you before but it doesn’t have to now. The laws of God that convict us are designed to point us to our need for God, our crucial dependence on Him. The tabernacle and the churches in which we worship today (which are derivatives in structure from those in ancient times) were given to us as representations of greater glory in heaven. Christ sealed the promise of that glory for us, ensuring once and for all that those who believe in Him share in that promise.
You can believe this whole Christianity story is just mumbo jumbo. You can hold that it’s myth and that it’s preposterous for one man to be either sinless or to die for everyone. You can even insist that the archaic laws of long ago no longer matter (even if all western civilization stems from those Judeo-Christian laws and values). In the end, those things are all just shadows, illusions that can either distract us from our journey with God or point us ahead in living life for Him. What will you choose?
Someday I’ll regale you with the story of how my wife forcibly dragged me off an airplane and immediately took me to a movie theater to watch Mamma Mia; good times, good times. But, like the movie, everything really does have a happy ending…especially our one-way death trip here on the Third Rock. Mamma Mia: next time it’s on, please pass the salt shaker so I can salt my eyeballs instead of watching it. But before pouring the salt, next time I’ll also remember that, mamma mia: good things are coming indeed.
For further reading: Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 9:23.
Lord, thank You for the things of this life that You give us which point us to You. And bless Meryl Streep, too.