Posts

Thor: Ragnarok – What Does The End Of The World Mean For Us?

Screenshot taken from Official Trailer

Rating: 4/5

What would you do if your home comes under threat of destruction? For Thor, it involves a journey to alien planets, squabbles with family and friends, and letting go of some of the things he was once so attached to.

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok spelt the destruction of Asgard—home of the gods. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the same narrative is brought to life with a distinctly comedic flavor. With the impending doom and destruction of his world upon him, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is stranded on an alien planet. Thor has one goal throughout the movie: get back and save his homeland.

Thor: Ragnarok represents a bold development in the progress of the series. It’s clearly heavier on comedy, but also a lot more enjoyable. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s what makes it so fun. Director Taika Waititi’s previous work in smaller scale indie comedies means the tone of this movie was always going to be different from its predecessors. And the result is a movie that is exceedingly self-aware, bordering at times on parody. The actors, Hemsworth in particular, seem to revel in the looser, more improvised tone.

The dynamics between characters are richer for it too. There’s a charming road trip-buddy feel to Thor and Bruce Banner’s (Mark Ruffalo) partnership. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki also develops from the anti-hero of the past movies; the sibling rivalry and bickering he shares with Thor is both compelling and humorous. Driving the evolution of these relationships is Thor’s commitment to being a hero and preventing the end of Asgard.

Similarly, the Bible tells us that our world will eventually come to an end, and how we respond to this defines our adventure now. We all tend to get caught up in the invincibility and seeming permanence of this world, working as hard as we can to wring the value from each activity. Be it career success, performing well in school, or just enjoying life, we work hard to relish the fruits of this world.

But it’s these very things that entice us away from the purpose that God has for us. Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster perfectly encapsulates this sentiment—a slave owner who tells his slaves that he loves them, all whilst making them fight to the death.

Screenshot taken from Official Trailer

However, the Bible warns us about getting too absorbed in the things of this life, that hold no eternal value. The constant reminder throughout the New Testament is to look forward to the new creation, and everything that it holds in store for us. This has real implications for the way that we live now and should shape what we work for and what we are willing to give up. The plain fact is that all the things of this life will be swept away without a trace by the arrival of the new creation.

In the end, being a hero is very different from what Thor expected. The circumstances call for some hard decisions to be made, but these are the very decisions that make Thor a hero.

What about the decisions that will define us as Christians? What are the things that we will pursue in light of God’s plans for eternity, and all that they hold for us? They vary from individual to individual. But the common denominator has to be the Gospel. It is the one thing that carries eternal value, and whilst its consequences may not seem apparent now, they will certainly be felt at the return of Christ.

This means that it is not just about whether we accept the Gospel, but what we do with it after. We must continue to grow in our conviction and commitment to the Gospel and what it means for us. At the same time, we are commissioned to work for the Gospel, advancing it in whatever situation we find ourselves in.

It’s always worth sitting to the very end of Marvel movies to see what surprises the directors have for us. But for Christians, there are no surprises about the end; our world has an expiry date. God will destroy it as he ushers us into the New Creation. So how should we live now, given the temporal nature of this world? Work for the things that carry true eternal value. In light of eternity, everything else will seem insignificant.

Talking about Eternity with a Non-Christian

Written By Harriman Kelsie, USA

I’ve historically been fairly successful at avoiding the uncomfortable topic of who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. I have been able to evade any serious consideration of the matter by employing this principle: “It’s God’s job to determine who goes where, not mine.” I thank God that the responsibility of judgment is on Him and not on us, but this fact does not negate the importance of pondering the question.

I was reminded of this need a few days ago during a late-night conversation with a Muslim friend. He had requested to interview me for a religious study he was conducting for a qualitative research class. Having been assigned the challenging task of qualitative research before, I readily agreed to help.

The conversation started off something like this:

Friend: Did you grow up in a Christian family?

Me: Yes, I did.

Friend: How old were you when you started attending church?

Me: Since infancy.

Friend: Do you believe you would still be a Christian if you were born into a Muslim family in Egypt?
Me: Good question. I’d like to think so.

Friend: Do Christians believe that Muslims can go to heaven?

Me: Good question.

My friend’s last query caught me off guard and revealed the uncertainty I’d been experiencing lately about religion. This time, I found the “It’s God’s job to determine who goes where, not mine” spiel that sufficiently quelled the reservations of younger me about the eternal fate of non-Christians, lacking. How was I supposed to respond to my dear Muslim friend, who sat across the table from me, about what I believe to be the fate of his soul? How was I to respond when he arguably embodied more Christian virtues than me?

It was easy to casually “leave the fate of non-Christians up to Jesus” when I knew very few people in that world. But it became very hard to say this nonchalantly when some of my dearest friends, who have taken the quest of knowing who “God” is every bit as seriously as I, have reached a conclusion other than Jesus.

My friend and I wanted desperately to be kind to each other—to reassure, encourage and convey the respect we each had for the other’s faith, even though we were convinced of the truth of our own. In such a situation, it seemed far too perfunctory for either of us to say: “Don’t worry, it’s God’s job to judge.” That doesn’t convey “I care about you” very loudly, does it?

Confused, I decided to respond to the question about what I believed to be the fate of my friend’s soul with one truth of which I am absolutely certain: “God loves you. And so do I.”

We parted ways in peace, closer companions than we had been before.

That night as I was going to bed, my phone buzzed. My friend had sent me a message:

My friend,

I just prayed my last prayer for today. This time I didn’t only mention people who are good in general but I mentioned your name in specific. I prayed for you to enter heaven. I’ll be really happy to be there and to see you there.

I pray for you in specific as well, my friend. And I am going to be very happy when I arrive in heaven. But perhaps even happier, if my prayers are answered, and I see you there too.

 

This article was first published here. This version has been edited by YMI.

The Last Hand Shake

By Jordy Marteja

Finger across finger, our hands are immeasurably intimate
Lines of our Hands bonded together- Oh, name it Fate!
But apology, my dear, our Farewell, the Destiny shall dictate

Palm towards palm- giggling and laughing moments, we share
Even in torment, we held each hands- a tap of care
A clinch, we have, at all life’s Fare!

Hands unto hands, with profound grin, we greet;
Bestowing blessings to the friends there, we meet
Later will be a sound of trampling, leaving heavy feet

Wrist to wrist. We rub and rub, as we end the toil of the day
The bliss of serving together: None could say!
But soon, so soon, we’ll be on each diverse way
‘Til Next time again…’ I pray

Don’t be dishearten, of my confession, today, my dear
And please shed back your tears;
Take heart! Cast out all your fears!

Served is the Sentence of our separation, poor us, we could no longer bail
In the war of justice, the Truth shall and always prevail
With the Mighty’s gracious right hand, we’ll be uplifted and He’ll never fail
And as we wave our hands, we owe to you, our sincere vail

All of those spent memories, ’till eternity, I vow to treasure
One day, we shall and we will meet again, I assure
Although uncertain are the how, when and where
But, under One Heaven, we will, I swear

Oh, this day, our grasp was so tight, so close, so tight…
We take a deep, deeper breath then, a long sigh, a long sigh…
For this last firm handshake shall be a gesture of a sweet good…bye…

ODB: The Last Chapter

October 30, 2013 

READ: Revelation 22:6-20 

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. —Philippians 4:5 

I have a friend who reads the last chapter first when she starts a new thriller. “Takes the anxiety out of reading,” she claims. So with Christians: Because we know the end of the story, we can be centers of peace in the midst of utter chaos, calm in the face of disaster.

The apostle Paul calls this attitude “moderation” in Philippians 4:5 (kjv). It’s a term that implies “peace under pressure.” It refers to the calm and deliberate strength with which we meet the disquieting circumstances of our days. Kingdoms may fall, friends may falter, churches may fold, oceans may rise, and mountains may crumble, but we can be at peace.

How do we maintain such composure? By remembering that “the Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5); He is near. Our Lord is standing just outside the door ready to burst through and turn everything that’s wrong right-side up. Then this world and all its troubles will become the kingdom of our Lord, and “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).

Jesus said, “Surely I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20). Today could be the day! It’s the very last thing He said in the very last chapter of His book.

— David H. Roper

Lord, thank You for dispelling the fear from our lives
by letting us know the end of the story. We can rest
in the assurance that as Your followers we will one
day be with You in Your glorious, eternal kingdom.

No doctrine is more closely linked to practical daily living than that of the Lord’s return.