Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Spoiler Alert

Nobody likes spoilers.  Forgive me for remembering the old days, but there was a time when you could only see something on TV or at the movie theater.  If you missed it on TV, then you deserved to have it spoiled for you.  If you had not seen the movie yet, you needed to get to the theater fast.  Of course with no social media, the opportunities for spoilage were more rare.

A plot is spoiled when we know what is going to happen.  Much of the Star Wars episodes 1-3 was spoiled before the movies were ever made.  We knew that Anakin would turn to the dark side.  We knew that he would father a couple of children.  Key elements of the plot held no suspense.

When the plot is spoiled, we know how the story ends.  We see the disasters coming, we expect the hero to arrive, we know who will still be standing.  So, for entertainment, all we have left is curiosity about the details.  We miss the suspense.  We find no surprise with the unexpected.  Our jaws never drop.  Many stories become old and trite. 

In American culture, the Bible has been spoiled.  We know how it ends.  We know all the twists and turns, the disasters and the deliverances.  We know that Moses leads the Hebrews out of Egypt.  We know that David kills Goliath.  We know that the big fish swallows Jonah and saves his life.  We know that Jesus turns the water to wine.  We know that the woman at the well comes to faith  We know that Peter walks on water.  We know that Judas betrays his master, who is executed for fictitious crimes.  We know that the tomb is empty. 

But those who hear these stories for the first time are astounded.  God parts the waters!  Jonah can't run away from God!  Jesus offends the religious people!  Jesus forgives those who murder him!  Love conquers hate!

We can tell these stories to children and watch their eyes light up.  But by the time we are adults, our eyes glaze over.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Tell me something I don't know.  What's your point?

If we can read the stories as though we have never heard them, we see just what a radical Jesus is.  We marvel at the power and love of God.  We get a glimpse of the story of God.

Maybe that's what childlike faith is all about:  reveling in astonishment at the work of God.