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Friday, June 3, 2011

Are We Pawns or Players? A Biblical Look at "The Adjustment Bureau" (Guest Post)

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The Internet Movie Database describes The Adjustment Bureau with the following opening statements:

"Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us? 

Matt Damon stars in the thriller The Adjustment Bureau as a man who glimpses the future Fate has planned for him and realizes he wants something else."

For me, it is definitely interesting to watch secular entertainment media as it tries to grapple with an issue that even we as Christians struggle with. In case you haven't seen the movie (Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality [no nudity] and a violent image) let me bring you up to speed without spoiling it for you should you decide to watch it.

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David Norris (played by Matt Damon) is an aspiring politician with the world seemingly at his fingertips. Suddenly, due to public relations problems, he loses an election. For a brief moment, he feels like his life is out of his control. In this time of personal tragedy he is inspired by a chance (or was it?) encounter with a young woman named Elise (played by Emily Blunt). Elise is just what Mr. Norris needed to motivate him to get back in the game. However, at this point, David also finds himself hopelessly in love with this elusive Elise, but finds himself blocked at every turn by a mysterious group of CIA-ish men, whenever he tries to find her. Eventually he is faced with a basic choice - give up his dreams, or give up her. 

Though my description of the plot may make the movie sound a bit shallow - trust me when I tell you that it's not. Various questions are posed throughout the movie. Are his dreams something he wants or are they his destiny? Is he free to choose who he loves or has it been chosen for him? And probably the biggest underlying questions throughout the whole movie: Are we in control of our own fate and can we change it? Or are there greater powers at work that are positioning us like pawns on a chess board?

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Some references to consider:

Ephesians 1:5 says those who have accepted Christ....were already predestined to be a child of God.

Proverbs 21:1 says the king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will.

Psalm 139 speaks of how God forms you in the womb and knows about you before you even existed. He knows your every movement.

That is just scratching the surface of predestination in the Bible. However, as I study His Word, I don't see a God who is using us as game pieces, moving us across a large game board for his own entertainment. God is involved in His creation, and I do understand from Scripture that he uses people to impact others for His glory. If we had no choice (or free will) in the matters of life, then there would be no responsibility or accountability on our part.

As an avid board gamer - my game pieces are not responsible for me winning or losing a game. I move them across the board, at my will, and then I am responsible for whether or not I win or lose. In life, the Bible is very clear that we, although predestined, are still responsible for our own actions.

There are many Biblical examples of this but I will just use one:

2 Corinthians 5:10 says Christians will stand before the judgement seat of Christ to receive what is due him for what he has done in the body of Christ, for good or for evil.

I don't think there is any stronger push for personal responsibility than that. Some day, we will stand before God Himself, and give an account for our actions here on earth. Somehow I doubt the phrase, "But you made me do it" will be on our tongues.

So my answer to the big question,

Am I personally responsible for my actions or is there a higher power who is in control?

The answer is.....yes.

The Bible is clear that God is involved in His creation. The Bible is also clear that God will not cause me to sin, so that means I still have choice. And since I will one day face God and answer to Him for all my actions here on earth, I am also personally responsible for my decisions.

While I would never suggest that someone should glean their theology from a movie, I do believe that the arts have the ability to help us take a different look at an issue, IF we engage our mind while watching.

Joseph Comings works as an operations technician for a regional news station and actively participates in his church's Adult Bible Fellowships and AVL (Audio, Video, Lights) ministry. In addition to discussions on politics and spiritual matters, he enjoys his hobby of European board games and eating Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.

The Adjustment Bureau is scheduled to release on DVD later this month.

Disclosure: All product links are affiliate links.


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