My wife and I watched Marvel’s Doctor Strange at a local theatre this last weekend. I did not know who Doctor Strange was before the movie and now I understand the hype about the visuals in the movie. When you bend time and space there had better be some good graphics to accompany such a feat!
This is not a review or summary of the movie, but rather a reflection on two key themes of the movie. First, time was an essential theme of the story. One of the villains, Kaecilius, had joined Dormammu because he wanted to escape time. In fact, he says that time is the enemy because in time all die. If only humans could escape time then we would be immortal.
Another theme the movie highlighted was that the natural order of life ultimately culminates in death. The responsibility of Doctor Strange and the mystics is to maintain the natural order of life, especially that of time and space, so that life may continue as normal, or as natural, as possible. The enemies seek to disrupt this natural order and provide eternal life which is not paradise in the movie!
This movie presents a great opportunity to understand time from the worldview of a Christian because neither Kaecilius nor Dr. Strange present an understanding of time that Christians should or ought to embrace.
From the beginning God created the world with rhythms. The sun rose and set on Adam and Eve just as it does on us today. Before sin came into the world the rhythms were part of life in the presence of Creator God. The world was as he had intended.
When Adam and Eve sinned, however, the rise and fall of the sun began to take on new meaning. Each rise and fall meant another rhythm closer to death. Note, however, that death, although just, was not part of the original order God had created, in contrast with the view of the mystics.
God did not leave humanity to lead lives in rhythm, or time, toward death. Instead he sent his Son to step into time, uniting himself to human flesh. Through his life and resurrection he stood in our place, providing the sufficient sacrifice, defeating the evil powers and forces of this world.
Time is now in one sense as it was in the garden: the rhythms of life are a part of living a redeemed live in the presence of God. And although death is still very much a reality, for those who live in the life of Christ death now becomes a gateway to eternal life in the presence of God.
Now that is time that I can live in.
In fact, the church has a practical way to live life this way. Known as the Christian Calendar, Christian Year, Liturgical Calendar, or Liturgical Year, the church re-enacts the events of Christ’s salvific work. In fact you are probably already familiar with some of the seasons!
Advent anticipates Christ’s birth and His second coming, Christmas celebrates His entrance into the world (space and time, right?), the Epiphany celebrates Jesus as the Son of God, Lent is a time of repentance in anticipation Easter, the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, and Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit and the life of the church in the Spirit.
So do not let Doctor Strange and company sway you: death is not the natural way of life and because of Christ time has been redeemed and we re-enact that redemption in anticipation of life eternal in the presence of God.
Jason Palmer is the Administrator of TalkingWorship.com. He has a Bachelor of Science in Ministry and is currently studying for the Master of Divinity degree. Jason currently leads worship for Glenn Street Church. He has lead evangelical churches in worship for 8 years and desires to see worship leaders become confident in their calling.