Monday, April 06, 2009

Martian Child

Martian Child is a 2007 film starring John Cusack. I rented it recently and found it moving and engaging. It has a lot to say about God's love for us and our acceptance of other people.

Cusack plays David Gordon, a widower who decides to adopt a little boy out of the foster care system. Interestingly, the story is based on the novel The Martian Child by David Gerrold, who wrote the book about his own experience adopting a little boy. Cusack, one of my favorite actors, is believable in the role. The child actor is also excellent.

The story goes like this: Gordon finds a boy named Dennis, who claims to be from Mars. Dennis spends his days hiding in a box so he doesn't get damaged by the sun. Gordon wins the boy's trust, and eventually his love. Along the way, each of them learns to accept the other just the way he is.

The movie presents a truthful picture of the very real tragedies of death and child neglect. You can feel the emptiness in the house and in Gordon's soul as he mourns the loss of his wife. Later in the movie, his beloved dog dies too, and that is a particularly poignant and honest scene.

But my favorite take-away from Martian Child is the analogy it provides to God's adopting love. Like Dennis, we all have sinful, wounded hearts. And like Dennis, we deal with our sins and wounds by creating and living inside our own stories that seem to offer life without God. As Dan Allender says in The Wounded Heart, we develop "self-protective defenses that operate largely outside of our awareness, guiding our interactions with others, determining the spouse we select, the jobs we pursue, the theologies we embrace, and the fabric of our entire lives." Only as we are willing to look honestly at our sin and explore our wounds can we begin to find the joy we seek in a relationship with God and other people.

Through Christ's person and work, God sought out and adopted for his own children a bunch of broken, misguided human beings (Galatians 4:4-6). We are all Martians. We have run from reality and from relationship with God. We would even disintegrate God if we could (as at one point Dennis tries to disintegrate David Gordon). Nevertheless, God set his love upon us - not because of anything in us, but because of his electing covenant love. And like Gordon tells Dennis in the movie, God will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever let us go (Hebrews 13:5).

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