Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Living for Eternity?

This weekend Jason and I finally got around to watching The Invention of Lying with Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner. I know it's weird to talk about a movie that's two years old, but it really spurned some interesting conversation around our house.

A brief synopsis for those who haven't seen it. Basically, Mark Bellison (played by Gervais) lives in a world where no one lies. They simply tell the plain truth always. For the writers of this movie, this also means no religion either. One can look at it as calling religion fiction, or simply that it's not something that we can KNOW, but regardless, for a long time in the film, there is no religion. When Mark sees the fear that his mother has about dying, he makes up the idea of a heaven-type place (eternity of happiness with those you love) to bring her comfort. It's overheard by the hospital staff and causes a whole rush of events that end with Mark creating a god-like character who speaks to him and tells him who is in and who is out.

There are a number of fascinating discussions that can be had after watching that movie (particularly when you've got an atheist and a Christian in the house together!), but one scene that really stood out for me was near the end.

Things aren't going as well for Mark as he feels they should be and he's sitting around the pool with some loser-type friends, drinking some beers. Mark asks this group of misfits why they aren't out living their lives and one replies that since the man in the sky is going to give him an eternity of happiness, he's not too worried about happiness in this life. Sure, he might be kind of miserable in this life, but eternity is coming and drinking gets him to eternity sooner, so what's the problem?

Now obviously I disagree with Gervais's idea that religion is equivalent with fiction, but I have seen this kind of attitude among the faithful. We cover up depression by saying that we're simply longing for heaven. We don't need to care for the environment because God won't let us destroy it. The single woman in church gets overlooked because God is her husband.

I don't want to down-play how a relationship with God impacts the lives of a believer, but sometimes we allow it to keep us from having a closer relationship with those around us. We use it as a mask to keep us from interacting in an authentic way with those who need us most.

I want the abundant life that Jesus promised. Not later, but today.


Do you ever find that you use your relationship with God as a wedge in other relationships in the here and now? If you are not a believer, have you seen that with those who are Christians?


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