So like a billion other people, I saw Avengers: Infinity War this weekend. My wife and I saw it with two dear friends in a packed theater of 500 people. No spoilers below, but I am going to ruin one joke in the movie.
At one point in the plot some goods guys (man, there are a lot of good guys in this movie) are fighting with other good guys because they don’t yet realize they’re all good guys. One shouts to another, “Who is your master?” It’s a funny way to ask the question, and the writers capitalized on that. The other character responds sarcastically, “What, am I supposed to say Jesus?”
Caveat 1: I don’t expect Hollywood to make Christian movies, nor do I expect them to respect Christian beliefs.
Caveat 2: I expect people to use the name of Jesus inappropriately as a curse, and I expect this to bother Christians.
This line bothered me. Not simply because it was a sophisticated slap in the face of Jesus, but also because of the response of the theater. When the line was delivered, 98% of the people in the theater burst out in laughter. Loudly.
I was in shock. Not really at the joke, although it did surprise me. Not even at the laughter, I assume the vast majority of the theater were not Christians. It was the volume of the laughter that got me. The audience loved that joke; having a master is so weird. As if anyone would consider Jesus their master. LOL.
Full disclosure, it took me 10 minutes to recover. Having had a few days to mull it over, here are a few observations about this joke and what it says about where we are as a culture:
1. We Are Definitely a Post-Christian Culture
This isn’t news, per se, but this joke and the response provide further evidence that our culture is done with Christianity. For our culture, the idea of Jesus being our Lord is apropos for a punch-line in a super-hero movie, but not for serious conversation.
2. We Aren’t As Far from Christianity As It Seems
Yet, as one of our friends at the movie noted, the entire joke is based on the premise that Christians believe that Jesus is Lord. The joke doesn’t work if people don’t have that baseline assumption. This means, deep down, people in America get that Jesus claims to be our Master.
3. We Are in the Right Place
The people in that theater need the gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to meet and talk to people who don’t think the Lordship of Jesus is a joke. They need to be compelled to pursue the gospel by a people who are consistently following the Master. In short, this is why God has placed us (the church) here.
In case you haven’t heard the news, more people are seeing this movie in theaters than any movie ever made. This means this joke will be heard by millions. This means that we now have an open door to talk about why Jesus is our Master, about how much he loves the world, and about how much better he is than any super-hero we can dream up.