Is There Anything Left that We Love?
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death” (Revelation 12:11).
Not too long ago, my family and I went to see the second “Hunger Games” series movie, “Catching Fire.” The movie is based upon a series of books by author Suzanne Collins. The books have been major sellers, and the movies blockbusters. Set in a dystopian future where the United States has collapsed and is now under the dominion of a government known as The Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the anti-heroine, is forced to fight for her life against other teenagers in a brutal game designed to remind the country of the evils of war.
The second movie pits Everdeen against the previous winners of the Hunger Games. Unbeknowst to her, however, about half of the participants are fighting to save her life. One of those characters is Johanna Mason, a belligerant woman who hates The Capitol to the point of angrily bombarding the President, Coriolanus Snow, on public television with rank obscenities. Teaming up with Everdeen, Johanna continues her rants against The Capitol threating Snow to burn down his own backyard. When the others look at her truculence in shock, she stares back at them and says, “What? He can’t hurt me. There’s nothing left that I love.”
As brazen as this character is, I found myself envious of her attitude in this particular scene. I recalled the words of Jesus to His apostles when he said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The world, and particularly the good ol’ U.S. of A., is deeply infected with coveteousness to the point that, beyond one’s immediate family, people have little or no meaning, and if they do, it is only to use them for the furtherance of some worldly end. James describes us well: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).
Some do understand that people are more important than things, and they strive to foster benefocence to others. It is certainly better to love our friends and our neighbors, but even this lofty goal is not our ultimate end. History shows that when the doctrines of humanism are perpetrated upon mankind that humanity loses at the efforts of those who would exclude God from their lives whether the effort is made locally in a casual circle of family and friends or whether the effort is part of a formal program designed to publicly help humanity. Ultimately, even people do not come first. God alone reserves the place of ultimate honor and respect, and so Jesus taught when he said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:38-39). We can’t truly love our fellow unless we love God first!
This truth, however, comes with some stark implications. There is absolutely nothing on earth that is worth sacrificing my relationship with God, including my family and friends, as much as I love them, and truly, the more I am disappointed by those I love, the stronger my desire is to live with The One who will never disappoint! Yes, I am envious of Johanna Mason because my life is dedicated to the proposition that there is nothing here in the earth for me to ultimately love, and with Abraham, I must confess that I am a stranger and pilgrim on the earth.
“For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:14-16).
Would to God that our attitude could be like Johanna Mason’s in that one moment of defiance to the powers of this earth: “What? He can’t hurt me. There’s nothing left that I love.” Consider in that vein, Hebrews 13:5-6: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” If only we could be so courageous. Who could stand before us?