God is getting the hell out of the world
My wife and I began watching Netflix’s newest show, The Society, and found ourselves intrigued and disturbed after episode one. Don’t worry, this post will not contain any major spoilers, but I will give a fair warning that the show is riddled with foul language, sexual content, and a pretty obnoxious portrayal of the average High School student.
Light vs. Dark
In a very Lord of the Flies fashion, the young people who live in a small town in Connecticut find themselves trapped in an alternate world with no parents and no rules but the ones they make. The show not only questions what happened to the bewildered students, but why they ended up in a carbon copy of their small New England town, what their parents might have had to do with their disappearance, and, of course, if there’s any way they can return home.
It’s a show deep-rooted with “what ifs.” The viewer is forced to ask what they would do in a similiar circumstance? How would they respond? For many, the answer is often unsettling.
From episode one, you are introduced to the constant struggle between darkness and light, the defects of human nature, and a philosophical pessimism that seals the fate of man. The show illuminates the line that draws down the middle of each of our hearts; inside each of us is a mixed solution of good and evil (I talk a little about the origins of that line in this post). Seemingly, after moments of being “unsupervised,” the worst side of these students comes on full display.
It’s easy for some of us to shake our heads at the incredibly reckless behavior of the students in this show, but if I’m honest, there is an urge inside me to not want to do what is right as well. Although it goes against every fiber by which I have been designed, I have a tendency to not trust God’s definition of good and evil and to seek autonomy and independence, defining good and evil how I see fit.
Get The Hell Out
The story of the Bible is about God restoring the world as he tries to get the hell out of Earth. Pay attention to what I just said, because it’s foundational to the story of the Bible and what the good news of Jesus is about. I did not say the story of the Bible is to get people the hell out of Earth, but that God is restoring the world and getting the hell out of earth.
Something went utterly wrong inside of each of us: we lie, cheat, hate, envy, overindulge, suffer, swear, lust, cry, and steal. And all of these “evils” bubble to the surface in the first episode of The Society, and likewise all of these “evils” bubble to the surface in each of our lives.
Most of us want these things gone from our world; Jesus also wants these things out of his world, but he is even more serious about these things than we are (read more about that here). You see, what are genocide, sex-trafficking, racism, and murder? An odd shift, but stick with me. They are raging hell fires destroying our world; they are the epitome of evil, things that make our stomach churn, the very thing we want to see eradicated from our world. However, although they are raging fires now, they were ignited by small sparks of deep-rooted distortions in the human heart and mind. There is something ugly and distorted inside each of us, and Jesus is doing everything he can to extract it from us.
I know, this sounds like a downer, but it gets better.
The Cancer and The Surgeon
Jesus wants to get the hell out of his world, and he want to get the hell out of you and me. That is good news, but it is a double-edged sword. While I agree that I want Jesus to get the hell out of this world, I don’t want him to get rid of me in the process.
Because we have met the enemy, and he is me. The enemy is not some red-horned, demonic figure who is lurking in the shadows, but it is an instinctual compulsion to do what is best for me, despite the pain and suffering it might cause others. And if I want Jesus to remove the lurking evil that is me, none of this sounds like “good news.”
But it is because of who it is coming from. Think of it this way, if a surgeon comes to you with a scalpel and says I need to cut you open to get something nasty and ugly out from inside of you that is killing you, you view that as good news, yes? It’s going to be painful, but it’s good news. That’s the story of the Bible.
God so loved, and is so committed, to his broken world that is ruined by the hell we have made here, that he actually allows the hell we’ve created to overwhelm him, and to destroy him, and to kill him. But God is committed to the world that he created in the beginning and said is very good, and he loved it so much, he did not allow hell to have the last word.
The resurrection of Jesus is a moment of new life and moment that speaks of God’s love and eternal commitment to our good world. In the same way, God is not going to allow the hell living inside each of us win if we are willing to undergo some (potentially mature) surgery.
I don’t know how The Society is going to end. After the first episode things are looking bleak: brothers are turning against brothers, people are already picking sides, and “self” is becoming the priority over “other.” The darkest distortions of people are drowning out any light that might had been found in them before the events of the show, and I am reminded as I watch that this reality is not seen in our shows alone. We encounter this truth everyday.
Everyday, and seemingly every moment, we have to make the decision to do what is fair, just, and honest. Unfortunately, doing what is good comes secondary to what is beneficial for me. That is because there is something grotesque and dark living inside of me that Jesus is trying to remove.
Jesus wants to get the hell out of you. And that’s the best and the hardest news you can imagine.