The movie experience of X-Men: Days of Future Past has pleasantly and forcefully thrust the concept of love back in my face. Concise, aesthetically-pleasing story-telling throws mutant against human and fear against hope. The rambunctious Wolverine, persevering Professor X, and misdirected yet passionate Magneto assemble as main characters that travel through time in order to become peacemakers. I never wonder that the Bible has shimmering pieces of wisdom buried in unexpected places. It’s clear that the words of Christ to take up His cross and love our neighbor burrowed comfortably in my soul through a 2014 Marvel movie. While it was quite fun to relive childhood comic memories through the piece, God is why I enjoyed it so much. His gentle, consuming fire is what keeps my heart pumping and I can’t stand by and pretend that’s not true. I’ve needed to step back and re-assess who my allegiance stands with, and today at Brassfield Cinemas the seed was planted. Though spousal and motherly love is heavy-handed these days, love for God and the world at large continue to encircle everything like a sky-sized pack of birds. The birds are singing loudly and swooping overhead to make themselves known. The groaning pains of life are subdued under their flight.
I’ll begin with what I always pictured love to be at different stages in my life. From birth to eleven, it was the comfort of family and friends. Summer barbeques and approving looks from extended relatives and being a good church girl were all I thought I needed. Puberty to early college was some undiscovered being of perfection that would pair his romantic and incomparable care with my neuroses. College to mid-twenties was shaped by an outpouring of “community” that I hoped would mean continued codling and twenty-four-hour attention. Now, it’s probably my role as a wife, mother, and friend. Sprinkled in this mirage was and is the gracious, life-giving power of a love donated by the Creator. He sang over me in patient, blood-soaked sacrifice and whispered that there is more that needs to be done.
If I remember the historically-accurate, stupefying, makes-you-look-like-a-fool-in-front-of-your-cool-nonbelieving-friend faith in Christ, I’ll have remembered the words of Luke 14:27 (“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”). Jesus is not asking me to skip hand-in-hand with Him and live a prosperous, rosebud life. These moments will and do occur. But He is saying that if I can’t die to everything that ever mattered for Him, I can’t hack it. Harsh and unloving? No. Honest. Brutally, beautifully honest. How we need honesty in our paths these days! I can’t wax poetic about the horrors of murder and injustice if I won’t stand up for why Christians believe what they do about the Old Testament and how it enhances the New Testament. I can either do this without the Holy Spirit (spewing out hatred to those who disagree) or with the Holy Spirit (having conversations, and yes sometimes sarcastic ones). But if I put on the label of a disciple of Christ, I’m not allowed to sit in the stands and watch the Lord fall on the field without falling in pain right behind him. Learning to die every day is tricky business.
One of the most intriguing scenes in this movie involves Quicksilver, a mutant who can move rapidly through the time-space continuum. He, Wolverine, Prof. X and Magneto are surrounded by cops who don’t understand why they broke into the Pentagon. When it looks like things are over for our four characters, Quicksilver calmly freezes the moment they are all in and works to undo damage. Weapons are inverted, bullets are deftly removed, and he is truly enjoying the long minutes he has to provide an escape. He even has a little fun with it, making an officer punch himself and taking a taste of spilled food from the kitchen. Using the talents available to him, Quicksilver has figured out a way to make his life purposeful.
Revelations such as these may be sweeping and dramatic in theory, but they translate to the smaller and harder tasks. Ruining someone else’s day with a nasty comment, prejudging the motives of others without cause, and turning our noses up at the most unwanted and unloved person in the room is relational homicide and also suicide. Yet the only thing available outside of death is relationship. I’m ready to blaze outside of time like Quicksilver, listen to some mellow tunes, and remove the guns and kitchen knives of my soul altogether. It’s going to take a God much bigger than my expectations or demands.