The popular Netflix movie Bird Box explores what happens when people are exposed to the absolutely worst thing they can imagine. In each scenario, the characters’ response is suicide (unless they were mentally ill). To protect themselves, the surviving characters walk around with blindfolds on.
The movie made me consider what would be horrible for me. Maybe it would be seeing a true reflection of my heart or witnessing the pure evil in the world. Even now, I am easily overwhelmed by the horrors that happen in our world–a few minutes of the news, and I am ready to blindfold myself. What if we couldn’t walk away though? What if we were subjected to not just a segment of the worlds’ sin, but all of it, all the time?
We Can Walk Away
I am blessed that, for the most part, I can walk away from the ugly reflection of our sin. God, however, cannot. He endures every act of violence, every injury to a child, every misalignment of his character for all time. God could end it too. He could stop the sin and suffering by bringing His mighty judgment. However, it would have to be one that wipes out the earth though since none of us is innocent.
Ironically, this seems to be a theme in Bird Box. Those who are insane deliberately try to get others to open their eyes and call it a cleansing. But this is a cleansing without mercy and without hope.
God’s response is neither to blindfold himself or to destroy us. Instead, He makes a way out that both respects the grievous effects of sin and the suffering it causes. His way though still shows value to every person, no matter how defiled. He takes the consequence of the sin upon Himself and only asks that we admit our need for Him.
But He Waits
That mighty judgment is there too, but He waits. 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) says,
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” He waits because He wants as many as possible that can be saved to be saved.
The parable of the Prodigal Son illustrates God’s patience with us (Luke 15:11-32). Most of you are probably familiar already with the often-told tale of the two brothers. The younger, impetuous and disrespectful, requests his inheritance (before his father has even passed away) and runs off to waste his money. When it runs out and famine comes to the land, the son “came to himself” (vs17). He then remembered the mercy of his father and decided to return. He rehearsed his speech of penitence, expecting to be treated as a servant.
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Instead, the father saw him afar off and “felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (vs. 20). Even more, the father planned a party to celebrate his lost son returning. The older son is angry because he had been faithfully serving. It doesn’t feel fair to him. Ironically, this parable’s theme hinges on the older son’s lack of compassion and joy for his younger brother, mirroring the Pharisees’ own biases towards the sinners they observed.
What Do We Learn?
There are two lessons here–first, a warning not to be like the Pharisees who cared more about the judgment of sin than the rescuing of their brother. They are the ones who are eager for the “cleansing.” We must remember to look with compassion on those around us, no matter what state they are in.
There is also a message of hope too–a peek into the character of God as we observe his divine patience. In the story, the father allows his son to run off and to waste the money that the father, not the son, so meticulously stores up. He doesn’t pursue him with demands to do his part–he waits until the son is ready.
He is Patient with Us
God exercises patience with us also. He allows what we consider a disgusting use of his resources in order to accomplish the perfect timing of redemption. When I look back over my own spiritual journey, I see how patiently He has waited for me to understand different truths. I see clearly how He never gives up on me, no matter how foolish I am.
This mindset reminds me that I can pass that patience on to those around me, remembering that God is working in each person and is on a journey of their own. I don’t want to be like the Pharisees or the older brother who seemed to delight in the idea of people being punished. Instead, I want to be like the father, anxiously waiting for the turning, for the moment when those who are lost, are found again. There’s a big party coming, and I want to be one who rejoices.
It is difficult right now to see the evil of man and to feel hope, but we can be confident that God sees more clearly than we do what is going on and what needs to happen. He is not blind–in fact, He sees all and still has hope.