Please find below my teaching notes for “Movies: Life Lessons from the Big Screen, Pt. 1. For personal use only. All other uses please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. (c) 2012, Terry Broadwater. Also, you can download the new free GCC App at iTunes or Android store.
Welcome to our new teaching series- “Movies- Life Lessons from the Big Screen. Part 1: “Power: Abuse or Use It!” It’s appropriate to following our “Gifts” teaching series by talking about the abuse and use of the power or powers that we have available to us. Or more precisely the power God wants you to use and the power that Satan wants you to abuse and abuse you with!
The movie, “Chronicle” illustrates this. “Chronicle”, primarily focuses on a teenager named Andrew, as well as his cousin Matt, and friend Steve. Andrew is lost and in pain. His beloved mother is bedridden, wasting away with disease, her meds so expensive they can barely afford them. His unemployed father can’t contain his anger and frustrations, preferring instead to use them as weapons against his son. Andrew’s cousin, Matt, is a help, but they’re not that close. And hardly anyone at his school wants to be his friend; they’re too busy making fun of him and his penchant for filming his daily life. Then, one day, Andrew, Matt, and their popular classmate, Steve, discover a hole in the ground that’s vibrating with energy. Inside the cave to which it leads is an unexplained energy source that, after they encounter it, suffuses them with powers they could have only dreamed of: They can move objects, they can withstand heavy blows, and they can fly. At first, they use their talents for fun and games … until the pressures of real life intervene, and Andrew snaps as their darker sides begin to take over and they being to abuse their power, as well as being abused by it, we could say. Matt, Andrew’s cousin, is shown having a great deal of compassion about Andrew harming others. He tries to save the life of a drowning man due to an accident Andrew caused. He also makes several other attempts to stop Andrew’s destructive behavior. In the end, both Steve and Andrew die horrific deaths as a result of their abuse of power- again, abused by the power they were abusing! Matt subsequently dedicates his life to using his powers for good.
In Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul talks about two types of power that we can use or abuse; but only one of these “powers” will in turn be abusive to us- which is it’s ultimate goal- to abuse us to death! Paul defines this “power” as “the power of the air, or unseen world- of the devil” and the other power as “the power that raised Christ from the dead- the power of God!” And today, I want to talk about how those two powers affect our lives.
On the front end, let me say that that the devil uses his power- the power you and I give him, to simply manipulate and ultimately destroy your life. 1 Peter 5:8- “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” You are a mere puppet on a string! How does the devil pull this off? Using, abusing, and eventually destroying you with sin!
WE ARE MANIPULATED BY SIN!
Eph. 2:1-2 “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.”
Dead to God but Alive to Sin
Do you know the saying, “The devil made me do it?” Yes, that can be an excuse, but it can also be very true! In reality, the devil wants to make you do a lot of stuff that is not only directly disobedient to God, but destructive to your life. Not only that, he wants your life to be an epicenter of destructive behavior that affects as many people as possible all around you! Like Andrew, in Chronicle, he wants you to think you’re in control, when in reality you’re completely out of control- and being controlled by sin and the devil, who is simply using and abusing you! That’s the thing, sin uses and abuses you to be a user and an abuser!
We look like we’re really alive; living it up, doing what we want, but we’re dead! It’s only a matter of time, but SIN takes us out. Sooner or later, it’s going to happen…
We are also dead to God when we attempt to create our own “righteousness!” It’s just another way the devil manipulates our lives by tempting us to take the “glory” for ourselves. Like the boys in Chronicle, we start to “play around” with this power, this life we have, that God has given us, and turn it into something that is all about what “we can do!” This was the problem with the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ day…
(Matt. 23:27-28) “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs- beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurities. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
That’s real abuse of power right there! You’ve been given something awesome, but you twist it all around for your own benefit and glory and you lose (to the devil) all ability to be in control!
Refusal to Live and Do What’s Right
Here’s the issue- God has granted us the power to choose! We can choose what we want to do with the life, talents, gifts, opportunities we’ve been given! But like Andrew, we choose poorly and this power we have get’s out of control until in the process of destroy our own lives, we’re wreaking destruction on people around us! Remember, God granted us life so we could use it to glorify him! Instead, we make poor, wrong choices, and succumb to the deception of the devil! It’s the oldest trick in the book! It goes all the way back to the Garden and Eve… “You have the power to choose that apple tree, and when you eat you’ll have even more power, so what are you waiting for?”
What’s the solution? Again, you have the power to choose better! Andrew choose to make the wrong choices, while ultimately his cousin Matt, chooses the right path and actually tries to use his powers to stop Andrew’s destructive behavior. He chooses to control his power and not let it control him. That’s how we have to look at sin…
Rom. 6:11-12 “So, you should also consider yourself to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires!”
GOD IS MOTIVATED TO SAVE!
Eph. 2:3-5 “All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”
The Love of Power
A first grader was told to come directly home from school, but he arrived late almost every day. He often took almost 20 minutes longer to come home than to walk to school. His mother asked him, “You get out of school the same time every day. Why can’t you get home at the same time?” And he replied, “It depends on the cars.” What do cars have to do with it?” The youngster explained, “The patrol boy, Mike, who takes us across the street, makes us wait until some cars come along, so that he can stop them.”
In the movie, Chronicle, the three teens are given an incredible gift of unique powers. It makes them special, and even though it’s a Hollywood script, the lesson is they can take this power and be motivated for good or they can use it to manipulate. It’s really an issue of a love or lust for power!
Paul says, “All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature…”
Penn State and Jerry Sandusky… Jerry Sandusky sexually abused and molested young boys because he had the power to do so. Penn State officials choose to cover it up because they had the power to do so. Regrettably we hear too many tragic stories of politicians or preachers or others with a position of power that use that power to drive the “passionate desires and inclinations of their sinful nature!”
Someone has said that the lust for power is rooted in weakness! Andrew, in Chronicle, was “weak”- his mother lay dying, his father abuses him, his peers make fun of him; it’s all weakened his character to the point he is prime for succumbing to the temptation to take the chance he’s been given, the power he discovers, and use it destructively.
Power is a force in all of our lives. The Latin root of the word power is “posse”- it means “to be able, the ability to act, to do something.” Don’t we all in some way or another, have the ability, the power to do something either because of our position or influence or any situation we can find ourselves in. Especially as this relates to church…
I can relate to what Paul says in (1 Cor. 9:18) Paul says, “In preaching the gospel I need to be careful not to abuse my authority, or power…” In other words, “I need to stay in love with Jesus and his message and not fall in love with the power of influence, etc. I have and ultimately manipulate people. My motivation has to stay pure and centered in Christ!”
The Power of Love
Paul says that God choose to use his power to save us! By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”
The power of love is the anecdote for the love of power! (Jn. 3:16) “For God so loved the world that he gave…” God could destroy us be he chose to deliver us! God doesn’t use his power to force himself on us but to free us!
Think about it… every aspect of our lives, all of our relationships, are shaped by these two forces of power: The love of power or the power of love! You can use and abuse others, be manipulative; usually because you’re inwardly weak and filled with anger or bitterness or pride, or you can, like God, in Christ, LOVE, because you’ve accepted and chose to live as a grateful recipient of the mercies and grace, and love of God in Christ Jesus!
That “change” takes place; the ability to act and do something that positively affects our own lives and the lives of others as we embrace the power of God to save and realize the benefits of that power…
WE CAN MAKE A STAND BY TAKING A SEAT!
Eph. 2:6-10 “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
True Power comes Under Authority
In Mt. 16:17-19 and 28:18-20 Jesus talks about the authority or power that he has and that he wants to give to us. Paul later says, 1 Cor. 15:27 “God has put all things under his authority…” You want to be under his authority because it’s the only way you can continually overcome the manipulation of power, both to you and through you, and become an agent of the power and authority of Christ to see good and positive things happen in people’s lives!
This is so critical. Only through Jesus’ power can we overcome our greatest challenge: the “ME in ME!” In Chronicle, Andrew couldn’t control his “passionate desires and inclinations of his sinful nature!” Without reading the Bible into a movie, but redeeming a very powerful biblical truth from it, Matt, Andrew’s cousin, in the end, recognizes that unless he submits his ability to act to a greater consciousness or cause for good, he too, will end up dead like Andrew!
That’s the thing, the power to choose is in our hands… but if we don’t recognize the higher and best choice for our live- to completely surrender and submit to Christ, we don’t just end up DEAD, we’re already DEAD in our sins…
We take this power for granted, we use and abuse it to use and abuse others and all kinds of situations in our lives- even in the church! We allow pride or insecurity or jealousy or other such things to control our lives! In our sinful nature we are hell-bent on disaster! But there is a solution…
(To accept that) All Honor, Glory, and Power belong to the One who alone is Almighty
John writes in Rev. 5:13 that all heaven sang, “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
The question ultimately is: WHO IS ON THE THRONE, WHO PAID THE PRICE TO SIT THERE? He gives you power to choose and power to overcome the power that would use and abuse you!
Again, in Eph. 2, Paul says, “you are seated with Christ in heavenly places…” That’s what is powerful! The power of love that saves you is the power that seats you in a position of ALL POWER!
If you’ve used and abuse power, the anecdote is to submit yourself to Christ.
If you’ve been used and abused by power, the answer is to take authority in Christ over the desire to pay back or do harm. Instead choose the power that frees you to forgive and be free!
If you need power over sinful desires and inclinations, only through Christ can you overcome!