Monday, September 26, 2011


As if we needed something else to worry about, now there's the movie Contagion.

Suzy and I saw this movie last night. It's a well-made flick about germs, infectious disease, death, mayhem, compassion for the suffering, commitment to family and friends, and greed. The cast is a roll call of great actors: Paltrow, Damon, Fishburne, Law, Winslet, Gould, and (my favorite actress) Marion Cotillard. Even the stand-up comic Demetri Martin makes a serious appearance as a lab technician. The famed neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta shows up as well. So lots of familiar faces in this one. Kinda like those disaster movies of the 1970s (Towering Inferno, Poseidon Adventure, etc.).

The action gets going right away. From your first bite of popcorn, you're watching scenes of people throughout the world as they touch door knobs, elevator buttons, drink glasses, and each other, transferring whatever germs they happen to be carrying to everyone else on the planet. Soon people are dying right and left. Some of the death scenes are disturbing. It's a contagion. It seems no country is spared. The body count grows quickly. Scientists and government experts are befuddled. They've never seen anything like it. A cure, if it exists at all, is elusive and expensive.

The movie does a great job of creating several sub-plots that catch you up and make you curious, but they prove to be minor distractions from the main questions: Who is to blame? What did Beth do, or not do? Is the fictitious homeopathic medicine Forsythia a cure, or a sham? There was just enough pathos, intrigue, and suspense that I was totally engaged in the film the whole 106 minutes. I also got an education from watching this movie. I didn't know the average person touches his or her face 2,000 times a day!

(If there's any doubt about the educational benefit of this movie, I can tell you that afterwards I immediately went to the men's room and washed my hands thoroughly!)

As a Christian watching Contagion, I found two things noteworthy. One was the contrast between those who helped others and those who helped only themselves. I had to ask myself the question, "If people around me were dying from an infectious disease, would I reach out and help them? Or would I retreat into the safety of my own home and ignore the need of my fellow man?" Marion Cotillard's character is an honorable example of people like Mother Teresa who choose to move toward the sick rather than away from them. God, grant me the grace to do likewise.

The other thing that's hard for someone with a Biblical worldview to miss, is the way this movie illustrates the transmission of original sin throughout the human race. In the paragraph above I posed the question, "If people around me were dying from an infectious disease...." The truth is, they are dying from an infectious disease. It's called sin. We've all been touched by Adam and are sinners by nature. Isaiah 64:5b-6a says, "...we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags" (NLT).

The Bible says we were conceived in sin. That doesn't mean sexual intercourse is bad. It means that the moment egg and sperm unite in the womb, another sinner is born. Through natural generation we inherit Adam's fallen sin nature. You don't have to teach a kid to sin; he sins because he's a sinner.

The good news is that Jesus Christ came sinlessly into our world, exposed himself to our disease, and provided the one and only cure for sin: his death and resurrection. He "became our sin" on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21) and rose again to newness of life. Through faith in Jesus, you can be forgiven, cleansed, made new, considered righteous (i.e., acceptable) by God, and empowered to live with hope and holiness. You'll still mess up, but you won't be condemned, because you are "in Christ," no longer "in Adam."

That's the vaccine that will both heal you and empower you to be an agent of healing for others.

1 comment:

Chanda said...

Saw this one a few weeks ago. Great made me think about what the church would do if such a situation occurred. But, really, right now, Christians are carrying around the cure to a very real malady--sin. The problem is that the world is in denial of the problem, because it doesn't see that death is a curse, not something that we are just supposed to accept. When people die young, then we cry out at the injustice of it. But, death is an inherited plague, an anomaly caused by the bad choice Adam of Eve to sin.
The truth is that everyone is in desperate need of the cure of the gospel, if only eyes would see how sin-sick our world really is.
May the church, the body of Christ, be ready when eyes are opened to the truth...and offer the cure, salvation in Jesus Christ.