Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST & Jesus

Like the other 13.5 million people in this country, I, too, watched the last episode of LOST with vigor and curiosity. It’s amazing to think that such a polarizing show, on the small screen and by the water coolers, had such profound effects on people, fans and haters alike.

Here are some posts I saw from Twitter and Facebook last night:


- “I am proud to say that I’ve never watched LOST, and I’m not going to start now.”


- “What a beautiful, poignant piece of television.”

- “Wow, the writers got SUPER lazy. I wasted 6 years for that?!?!”

- “Thank you, LOST, for such an incredible journey. Nothing else like it!!!”

- “LOST is still stupid”

- “If I wanted to watch a show about people on a deserted island, I’ll watch Gilligan re-runs.”

- “24 is better”

It’s generally understood that if you started watching LOST from the beginning, you’ve already made pre-conceived ideas on what the show is and how it was going to play out. If you found yourself watching it somewhere in the middle (yours truly included), you had to choose between:

- Finding out more and diving in deep

- Blowing it off with reckless abandon

Because I am a guy and I’m stupid like that, I started following LOST because a gal I liked loved the show. My first impressions of LOST were simple:

- “It looks like Gilligan’s Island.”

- “The show won’t last long. Wouldn’t they have been found by a month at most? They got satellites that could see a quarter on the beach.”

Yet, through of my stupidity, and my lack of foresight to realize the gal I liked was WAY out of my league (or in my favorite term, “out-kicking my coverage”), I grasped the greatest aspect of the show… it’s ability to convey the emotions, conflict, and growth this international cast brought to us for 6 seasons.

There are so many views and topics to discuss about the show, like how half the characters are named after philosophers, or that they made it an intelligent show full of physics and literature references, or some of life’s questions involving fate/destiny is intertwined with our ability to choose. As fun as that stuff is, I found myself asking two questions regarding LOST’s effect on people:

First, how is the actual task of watching LOST related to how people respond to Jesus?

I know. That’s a really dumb question. Jacob, the god-like figure of the island, and MiB (Man in Black), argued about the nature of man. Jacob believed that man was inherently good, and MiB believed that man was corrupt (“They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.”)

In many ways, yes, MiB was right from a Biblical perspective. Mankind is evil. All you need to do is look at our history of violence. We are capable of such terrible things, and it’s only by God’s grace and that mercy we are able to reflect His grace and mercy.

But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Of almost everyone I’ve run into in the last 6 years since LOST started, there have been two groups formed:

- Those who absolutely love LOST, and can’t get enough of it.

- Those who despise LOST, and think it’s the dumbest thing ever.

What LOST is doesn’t change because of what the audience thinks (though we’ve learned that executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse kept a close eye on LOST message boards to see if anyone was close in guessing what was next, therefore throwing everyone through loops… to me, that’s smart). People react to the show because of who they are and what they believe a television show should be. It is very hard to change the mind of any individual who’s made a decision regarding something that we (yes, us Americans) find as “important” as a television show.

Do you not see the parallel when it comes to Christ? Yes, it’s a very stupid analogy, and I’m sure I’ll get struck by lightning for it.

In the history of all mankind, Jesus Christ is the lynchpin. The asterisk. The “letting go” moment if you’re a LOST nerd like me. His mere gracing of this rock has divided the world. He doesn’t change, but our opinions, beliefs, morals, and decisions are almost entirely based on Him and shift moronically to the point of constant flashes of light and bloody noses. J

Think about it. We make the right or wrong choices based on who Jesus is, what Jesus taught in His Word, and whether we believe any of it. We’ve trained ourselves to believe that we aren’t wrong about what we believe or know (that’s called being stubborn), and believe that we cannot change that about ourselves.

All that to say I believe there is a moment in our lives, just like when we saw LOST for the first time, that we are presented with this crazy notion of Jesus.

- Who is this guy to claim that he is God, let alone God’s Son?

- Who is he to say that only through him that we can have eternal life?

- What is this guy smoking?

I’ve read (and someone call me out if I misquoted) that when it comes to deciding whether Jesus was real, Jesus is one of two things:

- He is the promised Messiah, who came down to defeat sin and rescue us from death

- He is a complete lunatic; the most insane man to ever live

Unfortunately, because we are human, we tend to make a decision about Christ rather quickly. We either believe that He did save us from death and He loves us eternally, or this guy is no different than any other great teacher in history, whose ideas died with him.

I believe that we are all one day given that choice. Like LOST, we either completely reject who Jesus is because he is crazy, doesn’t fit what we like, and is unrealistic, or we dive head first, digging through the mysteries and questions, and wait for the end, when Jesus returns to take His children home.

The second question I had refers to my favorite themes of LOST: Science vs. Faith & the growing change of characters.

“Why is it so hard to believe?!”

“Why do you find it so easy?!”

“It’s never been easy!!”

That dialogue between Jack Shephard and John Locke in Season 2 (the season I was girl chasing) epitomizes the show. You either have faith in what might be, or you follow the facts. For the longest time mankind has be combing the world and what little we can of the universe for answers. It’s never-ending. We have this curiosity to find the answers.

Fans and haters alike watched LOST to find out the mysteries of the show. Yes, I agree, there are some questions still unanswered after the finale. Truthfully, I like it that way.

I remember a teacher in high school, Mr. Glenn Cook, who had something to say about answers to questions. He was a very passionate, almost insane, teacher of history, and he taught us to see history as a story to learn from, not as facts and dates. One day, he had all of the desks circled around the room. He grabbed a chair, dragged it to the middle, and said,

“Everything in this room represents everything there is to know in the universe. This chair in the middle, do you know what it represents? (He stands on the chair) This is everything mankind will ever find out.”

Now, some actual scientists, aka Smarter-than-Win, will probably tell me that we are on the verge of learning some of the greatest mysteries ever. You know what? I don’t particularly care. What’s happening billions of light years away doesn’t concern me. What I do care about is the mystery of God.

God’s got more secrets, mysteries, twists and turns LOST wouldn’t be able to shake a stick at. I find that learning about Him is more fascinating than anything. I believe knowing that my relationship with Him is constantly growing, I will find out more about Him, but never all of Him. The mystery of God wouldn’t be a mystery if we knew it all, and that would be pretty boring as we live here on Earth.

Yes, the question of Science vs. Faith does reflect my first question, but that’s where LOST was my favorite.

Jack Shephard and John Locke were not my favorite characters. However, seeing Jack as a stoic Mr. Fix-It man of Science, slowly turn into the man of Faith Locke was, became mesmerizing this last season and a half.

Doubters of LOST would probably say that all of the mysteries and events surround the show are beyond ridiculous:

- A smoke monster?

- A polar bear in the jungle?

- A light in the “heart” of the island?

- An electromagnet-resistant Scottish bro?

- A man who doesn’t age/wears too much eye liner?

Yes, I would agree that some of the mysteries of LOST are ridiculous. It does take a great deal of faith, and in LOST’s case, a butt load of patience, to believe such things.

You know what else I find ridiculous?

- That someone like Jesus became a Man

- Jesus decided that we are worth saving

- Instead of snapping his fingers, he suffers great pains to save me

- He wants to know me, like a father to his child

I thought the greatest strength of LOST was the way the characters were able to get through some of the most ridiculous, asinine ideas in television history and become better people.

“It’s not a realistic show,” something I’ve heard over and over. Duh. Of course it’s not. However, I see parallels again. Don’t we make it through ridiculous things, like paying the mortgage/college loans, being a single-parent, surviving genocide, giving birth, enduring wars, the pain of divorce, working like drones 9-5, or murderous sprees?

God didn’t design us to be formed completely at birth. He allows so many challenges to come our way. To some, these obstacles might be common, while others see them as far-fetched and difficult. Do I know what it was like to survive the horrible nightmare of the a segregated South in the 60s? Absolutely not. I do know what it was like growing up in middle school, and I learned from that. Middle school is crazy enough.

Like Jack, I feel that we all come out better people through trials and ridiculousness, when we have Faith in what might be, not what we already know.

It does seem silly to have Faith, not perfectly knowing where that faith in God might lead us. My folks never imagined that their faith would take them back to their country of birth to be a part of a great ministry and the growing of faith in China. My best friend didn’t know what to expect in his mission in Amsterdam, but I see how he’s more focused than ever on God’s plans for him.

Does faith lead to death, like Jack? Maybe. But seeing Jack’s face as he lied there on the ground, where this show all started, moved me. He had faith that his actions would help save his friends, and as he saw that plane fly overhead, you could see the weight lifted off his beaten body.

As he died in peace, I thought, “how would living out your faith affect you? What are you willing to sacrifice?”

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