Doom & Gloom
When I saw I Am Legend, I left halfway through, terrified that the world could end any minute in mass chaos and carnage. OK, I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to seeing blood and destruction. But watching Will Smith face a world of devastation really shook me up. After all, the Bible says this world will endand it apparently won't be pretty.
There's a lot of stuff in apocalyptic or disaster films like WALL*E, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Left Behind, Independence Day, Doomsday, and Armageddon that remind me of the last days John prophesied about in the Book of Revelation. Yes, I know the Bible never mentions flesh-eating zombies, alien invasions, or meteorites the size of Texas. And no, we don't have a clear understanding of what Revelation means or how this world might end. But still, these movies make me wonder about how we view the end of the world.
As I thought about it all, I noticed four common traits that almost all disaster movies shareand I compared them to what I know as a believer.
Trait #1: Mass Panic! Total Fear!
As a giant creature tromps through Manhattan in Cloverfield, panic and chaos overtake the city. No one knows what this thing is or what exactly is happening. Some people stand in fearshocked by what they see. Others loot and steal. Still others run through the devastated streets looking for safety. But no one can find shelter from this monster. Innocent bystanders perish as soldiers try to kill the monster with guns and explosives. Helicopters full of survivors are swatted out of the sky. The world has been turned upside down.
This chaos in Cloverfield feels pretty realpartially because it's filmed like a real YouTube video. In fact, in many ways, the action feels much like 9/11. Watching the movie elicits many of that day's fears and worries. Producer J.J. Adams commented that this is one reason why we go to scary movies. "We live in a time of great fear," he said. "Having a movie about something as outlandish as a massive creature allows people to process and experience that fear in a way that is entertaining."
However, there's a point when terrifying entertainment just becomes terrifying. I did eventually finish watching I Am Legend, but that experience helped me see that everyone has limits when it comes to fear. And that's OK. That movie reminded me to carefully discern what I watch and remember that God doesn't give us a spirit of fearbut one of power and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). After all, while we need to be aware of the future, fretting about it and trying to predict it doesn't helpit just makes us more fearful. In fact, Christ tells us not to worry about what will come tomorrow and beyond. He says, "Today is sufficient of its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34, NIV).
Yes, there is plenty to fear. However, if you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you have nothing to worry about. In Psalm 91:14, God says, "I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on my name I will be with them in times of trouble (NLT)."