You know those credit card commercials that try to make consumers feel like they are buying an experience instead of just accumulating debt?
The ones that say things like:
"Dress and Tux: $4,500. Flowers: $1,500. Happily ever after: priceless".
In case you don't know what I'm talking about, here is a funny example I found:
Anyway, I saw one of these advertisements when I went to see The Hobbit a few nights ago. It was just a little sticker on the ticket-booth window,
but it completely caught my attention.
All it said was "A break from reality: priceless".
Now, you probably have already gathered that I have a tendency to philosophize even the smallest matters,
but I could not help but be kind of taken back by this advertisement.
I have two initial problems with it.
1. The fact that Americans crave a break from reality kind of saddens me. I understand that feeling... I have had it before. But why do we want to escape? And as much as I enjoy movies and appreciate their artistic contribution to the world (and I really do), I cannot help but feel like entertainment is simply a means to numb us to the deep void we feel when we have nothing to do and have to sit quietly and reflect.
2. If I haven't lost you yet, this second point is what I am really trying to get at. For the movies to be "a break from reality", that would have to mean that our day-to-day, eating, sleeping, going to work lives are the ultimate reality.
I do not believe that is true, however.
All of that stuff, well, it's kind of a fake reality. I am not saying it is bad. I am not saying it is good. I am simply saying that it lacks substance.
In reality, it isn't the "real reality".
Have I lost you yet? Stay with me here.
God's reality is the real reality. And when we are distracted from that fact with our fake reality, we can do very little to grow as Christians or to impact the world for Christ. If we become caught up in the "fake reality" and think it is the real reality... and then furthermore go to movies to distract ourselves from what we believe to be the real reality... we have a huge mess on our hands.
I do not want to be numbed to God's reality. I want to exist in it and be constantly aware of it. At the same time, however, I know that we were created to live this life... and that it would be wrong for me to say that we are supposed to walk around being ultra-spiritual to the extent that we scare people away from Jesus.
Both extremes are incorrect.
Instead, those two realities can and should merge.
We should be "naturally spiritual and spiritually natural".
Like Romans 12:1-2 (MSG) says:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
So, I will continue to go to movies. But not because I want a break from reality. Instead, I want to place my reality before God and walk in His reality.
I want to fix my attention on Him.
Embracing the incredible reality that He has for me?... priceless.