Saturday, June 21, 2014

What a Scientologist taught me about Romans 6

I’m thinking about Romans 6 and the movie I saw yesterday. In the movie, Bill Cage, the character played by Tom Cruise, keeps living the same day over and over until he is able to get it right. Yeah, I know it sounds a lot like Groundhog Day, but this movie, Edge of Tomorrow, isn’t tedious like Groundhog Day because they don’t go back and relive the entire day on film from beginning to end each time. Through masterful editing, it all fits together in a compelling way that keeps the story moving at a rapid pace. There is an urgency to Cage’s mission because he must continue reliving the same day until he is finally able to defeat the slimy aliens who are out to destroy the entire planet.

And this is like Romans 6, how? Well, in the movie, every time Bill Cage is killed, he resets the day. His partner in saving the world once experienced this same power and she lost it, so she understands what Cage has and she teaches him how to use it. The only way to keep it is by dying. When he messes up, she often puts a bullet in his head so they can reset the day. Boom! He opens his eyes and he has the opportunity to begin the exact same day all over again.

As I watched the movie, I got more and more excited about how it fit so well with this Sunday's text from Romans 6. I know, only a preacher would be thinking such stuff during a movie like this, but really, I couldn't help myself. It's such a Biblical concept. No, not the part about shooting someone in the head, but the part about dying and rising again to a new life. New life comes only after the old life dies. It’s the message of the cross and resurrection of Christ, and it has significance for us, not just after our hearts stop beating, but on this side of the grave as well. 

In Romans 6, Paul writes about how this way of life is established for us on the day of our baptisms: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” In baptism we enter into a way of life that is all about dying and rising. Not just once, or twice, but throughout our lives.

We’ve all probably heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But how often in our lives do we do just that? We know that certain actions don’t bring us the results we would like, and yet we keep repeating them. That’s when Dr. Phil will ask, “How’s that been working for you?” It can feel like we’re trapped. I suspect we’ve all experienced that. And, if we’re lucky, we’ll come to see what we’re doing. We’ll detect a pattern in our lives that is getting us nowhere.

Wouldn’t it be great to have what Bill Cage had in the movie? I know there are things in my life that I would love the opportunity to do over so I could go back and get them right. But that’s not the way it works for us. We can’t change our past. What we can change is our future. We aren’t doomed to live the same day over and over again making the same mistakes. We can die to the person we were and be raised to a new life learning from the mistakes of our past.

That was the real beauty of the movie Edge of Tomorrow for me. For while the main character died hundreds of times, and he was given new life each time, he never actually started over from the beginning. He always brought with him what he had learned from his previous failures. And that’s what we always bring with us, as well. As painful as the past may be, the past is a part of who we are. We need to remember our failures from yesterday as we begin our new lives again today. Otherwise, there’s nothing new about our lives at all. We’re just reliving the same day over and over again. To truly live the new life God offers us, we remember, and learn, and grow. It’s the pattern of dying and rising that begins for us at baptism. It’s the gift of transformation God offers each of us so that we can die and rise again to new life. 

1 comment:

Julie Huke Klock said...

Brilliant! I enjoyed the movie but this is a great add-on. Thanks.