By Anthony Casperson
On occasion, I find it interesting to watch the YouTube channel Cinema Sins. This is especially true when they’re looking at a film which I enjoyed watching. During the episode, they take a highly edited cut of a single movie and count how many inconsistencies and clichés, which they call sins, occur during the film. After every single sin, a counter in the upper corner dings.
Often there are sins in regard to the antagonist’s plan. How convenient it is that they happen to be in certain places or have highly detailed plans that rely on chance happenings. The guys at Cinema Sins also tend to talk about how often normal people walk away from beatings that should have killed them, or left them permanently injured.
And then there’s the clichés that get a ding every time they appear. An ethereal voice comes over darkness at the beginning of the film. “Narration…ding.” The person runs straight away from something when running to the side would be a much better option. “I see they went to the Prometheus school of running away…ding.” (Apparently this happened in the movie named Prometheus so much that they named the cliché after it.) And don’t even try to take a bite out of an apple in a film. It seems to make people “look like even more of a [jerk]…ding.” (I didn’t think that the exact quote was necessary here.)
But my absolute favorite sarcastic comment comes when a film shows an exterior shot and a caption pops up stating the location of a well-known city, followed by the state or country that it’s in, like “London, England.” “As opposed to London, China…ding” Their point being that most people watching the movie should know that London is in England, and so forth. I even catch myself thinking (and occasionally saying out loud) this type of thing when I watch movies. And that ding is right there with it.
But it’s not just films that sin by constantly repeating the same things over and over again. We human beings sin to a cliché too. And that includes we followers of Jesus.
This past week, I heard a sermon from a series about the grace of God. The pastor’s direction for the sermon was about the empowering grace of God. We followers of Jesus are not just saved by grace. We were saved for good works. (See Ephesians 2:8-10.) And what God saves us for, is what he gives us the ability to do.
But then the pastor questioned why it is that when we followers of Jesus fail in overcoming certain repetitious sins, we say the cliché “that’s just the way I am.” He continued, asking how it is that we can believe that God is able to save us from death and eternal destruction, but when we’re hungry act like we don’t think he can help. (And I could’ve sworn that there was a “ding” right there.)
When we run out of money, we try everything in our power to get some, up to and including stealing it from someone else. Ding. When we’re feeling lustful, we open up the internet and look at porn. Ding. When we’re trying to make a good impression for a job, we lie about our abilities and talents. Ding.
This isn’t an accusatory statement. It’s a calling to trust God to empower us, to lead us to the place that he knows is best for us. He is our provider, our satisfaction, our guide in this life. And he is able and willing to help.
God’s grace does more than just save us from an eternity in hell. He wants to help us in this life, with our everyday struggles. But our clichéd desire to do things ourselves causes us to say, “I’ve got this.” Ding. What we need to do is stop thinking that we can’t escape our weaknesses. God’s power is able to do so much more than we can imagine.
In our weaknesses, God shows up in power. He brings us what we need in his time. He fulfils every desire we could ever have. He points the direction. If we just remember to look to him. Things won’t always turn out the way we want them to or think they should, but they will be what is best for us.
So, when we struggle with our clichéd sins, let’s rely on the grace of God that empowers us to do the good works he called us to do.