Friday, October 24, 2014

"The Lego Movie" is a Model for Being A Christian

One of my favorite movies from this past year was "The Lego Movie." There are a lot of things to like about the movie -- a fun premise, sharp humor, great animation, a heart-warming ending, and LEGOS! -- but I was reflecting this week (watching my kids build with Legos) that the movie also offers a model for discipleship as Christians.

For those who haven't seen the movie, the basic story is that a Lego villain named Lord Business wants to make a perfect world by gluing all Legos in place forever and a simple guy named Emmett is anointed the "special" who will save the world by the Master Builders who oppose Lord Business. In the movie, the Master Builders stand for creativity, freedom, and individuality while Lord Business promotes uniformity and following the rules.

Now normally when a movie sets up a difference like that, the final message is something like: Be yourself no matter what and everything will be fine. But that's NOT what "The Lego Movie" does. Lord Business is clearly the villain, but the Master Builders' sense of freedom has problems, too. They are so individualistic (and self-important?) that they have trouble working together and in one emergency they are so bad at listening to each other that the escape craft they build doesn't work. Without giving too much away, it's only when they use their individual talents as a team that they are able to succeed.

Just when you think the movie is going to say, "Be yourself," it adds on, "...but remember that you still need others." It's this both/and that I found interesting and think is a great example of being a Christian.

As a Christian, I believe that I am uniquely created, called, gifted, and set free by the Triune God.  At the same time, I believe I am called to love and serve others and have to live in community and relationship with them. Like in "The Lego Movie," I am a special and creative individual, but if I am only an individual and can't share my talents as part of a community, there can be just as much discord and trouble as oppressive uniformity.

I see both extremes expressed at times in the church. Some act as if God is Lord Business, demanding loyalty and uniformity in order to enforce a perfect world. Others see God as a Master Builder who says, "You're special and unique. You don't need anyone else." The church says neither.

Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians when he writes, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts make one body, so it is with Christ... You (plural) are the body of Christ and each of you is a part of it." He explains that everyone has special gifts, but those gifts aren't meant to divide us, but unite us by seeing our talents as part of a greater whole. Or, as one pastor I know was fond of saying, "Faith is personal, but not individualistic."

Martin Luther once summed up this paradox by writing, "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all." Who would have thought that the heart of his message would show up in a fun kids' movie? And yet "The Lego Movie" provides a great metaphor for building up Christian disciples, brick by brick.

“I'd rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” -Fleet Foxes, "Helplessness Blues"

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