Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Inner Dark

Amongst the films I am most looking forward to this year, one of the firm favourites has got to be Spider-Man 3.

I'm looking forward to it because it is going to cover the "black suit/Venom" storyline. Essentially the story of Venom has always been to me, a tale about recognising and fighting your own dark side. We all have a dark side, something deep within that urges us to do selfish things that hurt or neglect others. I don't know what you choose to call it, but I call it sin. I wonder if anyone reading these words, is concerned over attitudes they see in themselves that they know are wrong... but feel helpless to deal with?

This particular Spider-Man storyline serves as an excellent parable of how the sinful nature infects us and affects our lives and the lives of others. In the story, Spider-Man comes into contact with an alien symbiont that bonds with him and boosts his powers. However, what Peter Parker does not realise is that this being that he has made a Faustian bargain with, eats away at his soul... making him more aggressive and dangerous and isolating him emotionally from those he loves most of all.

As a Christian, I believe that sin entered the world... and our lives in much the same way:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. - Genesis 3:6-7

Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." - Genesis 3:13


But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created - James 1:14-18

The Bible also teaches us that sin crouches at our door and desires to have us... but we must master it. Peter Parker, upon realising what this alien creature is transforming him into, is also faced with this daunting challenge. Either to reject the darkness, or be consumed by it.

In the comics and film, the symbiont is vulnerable to intense sound. Our sinful "symbiont" is vulnerable to one sound... the voice of the God who calls out to us in love.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

We have to choose to accept that voice, to accept the offer of grace and forgiveness that comes through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, if we wish to remove our inner demon's from the throne of our hearts.

The central theme of Spider-Man is that "with great power, must come great responsibility". We have been given the most precious power of all... free will. You can choose to embrace your inner darkness, explore the apparent freedoms it gives you... or you can choose to recognise that darkness for what it is, repent of it and ask God to get rid of it.

Of course Spider-Man's choice to reject the symbiont isn't the end of the story... and it isn't for us either. You see, once you cast out the darkness from your heart... it doesn't like being rejected... and will always try to get back in through any chink in our armour - any upset, any character flaw.

We have to learn to grow closer to Jesus and take on his character if we are to effectively combat sin, for the Bible says of Jesus:
For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. - Hebrews 2:17-18

Go and watch Spider-Man 3, it will probably be a cracking film... but if anything I have said here has made you recognise something about yourself that needs sorting out, I implore you to address it. If you know you need to get right with God, pray with somebody you trust. If that door doesn't appear open to you.... then I am always here and what is said to me, will remain confidential and sacrosanct.

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