It was the end of the most perfect movie that had ever been made, and my younger self wanted to find adventure outside the theatre. Looking back at Raiders of the Lost Ark years later, I had to ask myself, “was Indiana Jones really needed?”
Leaving the Plaza Theatre, I searched for adventure around every corner and the only things that were missing were a bullwhip, hat, and fists of brick. The year was 1981, I was 12 years old and I had just seen magic on the big screen. The sound of John William’s score still rang in my ears as scenes of the movie played out in the movie house of my mind. Raiders of the Lost Ark had everything, adventure, religious artifacts, fights, explosions, and a mission to beat the bad guys (Nazis). Decades later, I bought the DVD, turned down the lights, turned up the sound and awaited the Paramount logo that would transition into a mountain with childlike eagerness.
When the end credits rolled, the reality hit me and hit me hard, Indiana Jones was not needed at all for things to turn out the way that they did!
I sat there speechless. “How could this be, I mean, of course, they needed Dr. Jones to find the ark…didn’t they?”
No, they didn’t.
They didn’t need Indiana Jones to find the headpiece as the Nazis would have come to the bar, grabbed the headpiece and found the well of souls that much faster. The Nazis already found Tanis, but they were looking in the wrong spot for the well of souls, to which they would have eventually found, even if Dr. Jones didn’t have the fight with the Nazis in the bar (remember the scar on the dude’s hand?). The ark would have ended up on the island and everything would have ended the exact same way with the melting faces of the main bad guys. In a nutshell, the ark would have been discovered, hauled up, delivered to the island, and subsequent punishment from God, all without the “help” of Indiana Jones.
Yes, it’s a hard pill to swallow (still a great flick), and even though Indiana Jones was an unneeded variable, the movie teaches us something far more important, the supremacy of God.
Christians, from individuals to groups, like to think that if we don’t help God along, things won’t work out with regard to the “Grand Plan”. We see it in groups that seek to “help” build the third temple, thus “helping” God along with that whole tribulation thing. We see groups that seek to go to the ends of the earth not just to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but to fulfill scripture to “help” bring about the end of this world so God can usher in the new Heaven and new Earth. We see it in individuals in trying to get lost folks to say certain words in succession so that they’ll be saved, all the while thinking “if I don’t preach to them, they’ll be forever lost.”
Christians are trying to be Indiana Jones, but what they need to realize is that no matter what, God’s Plan will come to pass for this world and for individuals.
We work and worry so hard that if we don’t fight the Nazi on the plane who’s about to take the Ark of the Covenant away, that things are going to fall apart, only to find out that God has some trucks already standing by to take care of things. We fight the bad guys in the bar to try and stop them from taking the headpiece, only to find out that God wanted them to find the very thing that would eventually stop them. We scream at the screen, “watch out!” only to see that the actors don’t hear us and they continue on their missions to fulfill the final work of the Master Writer (God.) We work and worry so hard to help, only to realize that things are going to end the same way, with triumphant music, rolling credits, and a feel-good ending that nothing on earth will compare.
So, do we, as Christians, just sit back and watch the movie. Nope! We have our roles to play, but no more, or less than that.
We have lines to learn (the Gospel). We have a direction to take from the Holy Spirit. We do have some fight scenes, but the main battle is already won. We have our roles to play and our own parts in the grand flick, and when we stop worrying about and trying to control other actors/actresses, the director, cameramen/women, key grips, gaffers, etc, we can enjoy our time in the greatest movie ever made, all while we await the orchestra, end credits to roll, and the curtain to come down on the worst villain in history.
So, lights, camera, and action, or as Indiana Jones would say, “trust me.”