“What If…?” (The Family Man)

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S (Scripture): Revelation 3:14 “Write this to the angel of the church in Laodicea:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I’m about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 After all, you say, ‘I’m rich, and I’ve grown wealthy, and I don’t need a thing.’ You don’t realize that you are miserable, pathetic, poor, blind, and naked. 18 My advice is that you buy gold from me that has been purified by fire so that you may be rich, and white clothing to wear so that your nakedness won’t be shamefully exposed, and ointment to put on your eyes so that you may see…”

O (Observation): Revelation – a story about the struggles between God’s people and evil in the world, told in an apocalyptic tale – reveals that the church in Laodicea is full of followers of Jesus who are “lukewarm.”

Many of these inhabitants are rich (well-off”) and don’t sense a need for anything from God. Yet God reveals that they are actually miserable in their existence.

The only wealth they need is the gold that God offers – refined by fire. This gold brings true richness.

The ointment for the eyes will help the rich ones to see clearly – through God’s eyes, rather than the eyes of wealth. Through God’s eyes, they will see that their earthly wealth amounts to nothing.

A (Application): I remember (years ago) seeing a Christmas movie called “The Family Man.” Nicolas Cage plays the main character. He’s a rich executive who cares very little for anyone other than himself. He has no sympathy for those who wish to take vacation during the Christmas holiday. He is very rich, and very alone…though he doesn’t realize that his “alone-ness” is bothering him. He can’t quite put his finger on it.

Then, heading out to the store, he encounters an angel of sorts, who helps him to see his life if he lived differently – if he stayed with his young love from years ago, pursued a life with her and had a family, etc. Then, one day, he wakes up – sees the world differently – and he realizes how alone he is…but that he can also change things.

Think “It’s a Wonderful Life” meets “A Christmas Carol,” but in the year 2000. That’s “The Family Man.”

Now, I know that this alternative reality doesn’t exist, but the appealing part about this movie is that the dream world he’s in isn’t perfect. Having kids is messy and exhausting, having a spouse and loving that spouse can be a challenging balance of self-giving, listening and sacrifice.

And I especially love the end, when Cage’s character tracks down this former mate and has coffee with her. And you don’t know what happens. The credits roll before you know the end!!!! I was so…melancholic afterwards, and I remain that way after seeing the movie to this day.

The question of “what could have been” rings loud and clear after watching this movie. And that resonates with me in my life as a follower of Jesus. This story in Revelation should move us from our thrones of complacency towards lives full of responses to God’s grace.

God wishes us to see our lives as they truly are, and how we draw closer to our purpose as the ointment is applied to our eyes…as we let go of the things in this world that promise hope, and purchase the gold that God has to offer: true life, everlasting and full of selfless purpose.

P (Prayer): God, help us to see beyond our own lukewarm feelings and station in this world. Give us eyes to see your glory in living service to those around us. Amen.

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