I recently borrowed a movie called Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. While there were certain aspects of the movie that I didn’t approve of, I fell in love with the overall theme of the movie. It’s a story that focuses on using one’s imagination, believing the unbelievable, and making the impossible possible. It has a beautiful plot with incredible quotes and photography that encourage the viewer to take a childish, innocent, and awed look at the world without any of the legalities and restrictions that our “realistic,” “mature” adult minds tend to use.
During one scene in the movie, the business-minded accountant — who has no belief in magic whatsoever — is asking the store manager Molly Mahoney what the matter is with the Emporium, which is Mr. Magorium’s toystore. Molly tells the accountant that it’s a magical toystore but he refuses to take her word literally, sure she’s using “magical” as a figurative way to describe the store. Frustrated, Molly tells him that he is a “just guy” —
“A guy just like you. Same hair, same suit, same shoes, walks around, no matter what, you think it’s all just a store, it’s just a bench, it’s just a tree. It’s just what it is, nothing more! “ (IMDB)
Ever since watching that movie, I’ve noticed the same “just guy” (or “gal”) mentality popping up occasionally in one of the Bible studies I attend. While we try to dig into Scripture, sometimes a verse just seems straightforward. Somebody will explain, “It just means that it’s only by grace that we’re saved,” or “It just means that Christ is the second Adam who saves us, just like the first Adam condemned us.” And then we move on. It’s just this, it’s just that. No awe. No amazement. It’s just matter-of-fact, take-it-as-it-is.
I’m getting to the point where I want to scream, “No, it’s not!”
Jesus Christ didn’t just die for us. God didn’t just sacrifice His Son for us. We weren’t just given His grace. We weren’t just saved from the punishment we deserve for our sins.
The problem is that we have heard these messages so often that we have lost our wonder for them. We have adopted that stagnant, this-is-a-fact-of-life mindset even in relation to the Scriptures. And let me ask you, how believable are the stories and messages in Scripture if we take a look at them as if we’ve never seen them before? God literally became a human being? God is three Persons in One? Jesus lived a perfect life and after He died and was buried for three days, He came back to life again? All of the wrongs we have ever done in our entire lives can be washed away by the blood of one Man? God actually cares about the measly human beings here on earth?
How believable is any of that? How “just” is Scripture?
No wonder Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Luke 18:16b-17).
Children implicitly believe what they are told, and they tend to adore the teller. Jesus desires that same implicit belief and adoration. But children also never lose their sense of wonder and amazement toward the world around them. Don’t you think Jesus wants the same from us? For us to be ever in awe of what He has done in the past as recorded in Scripture, of what He is working in our lives on a daily basis? For us to never take Him for granted, to never rationalize and simplify what He has done as mere fact, to never say “He just does this” and move on with our lives?
Have we forgotten how magical, improbable, and impossible our God is? Do we speak of Him as “just God” or as….