Weeks ago, I watched the latest Marvel movie, Dr. Strange. It was a great movie to watch, and the reality-bending scenes and the actors were awesome. What struck me the most, however, was the character of the Ancient One; she was portrayed as someone who saw the world with endless possibilities, and she always sought the chance to expand the minds of her students in the same way.
A memorable part in the movie was when the Ancient One was brought to a hospital, after being stabbed by the villain Kaecilius. Dr. Strange made the movie to rise out of his body as a spirit, and saw the Ancient One’s soul drifting away. Then came the scene where both Dr. Strange and the Ancient One watch the horizon while having a lengthy discussion about what the purpose of life really was. At the end of their talk, the Ancient One spoke a statement that reflected how Dr. Strange lived his whole life, while at the same time referring to a lesson that he continually failed to learn: “Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all: it’s not about you.”
A few days ago, what the Ancient One said hit me again and made me reflect on how I was living my life. At the same time, another Bible verse hit me that had a similar tone to it: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
At that moment, I saw a pattern between life as a Christian and the Dr. Strange movie. The Lord is like the Ancient One; they both have unlimited power and control over the realities of life. We who are Christians, on the other hand, are like the students of the Ancient One who are learning how to make sense of the lives that we live in. We don’t have the ability to cast spells or create realities, but we each make our lives according to what matters to us. Just as Dr. Strange made his life all about his hands, we have a tendency to focus a lot on the things of the world, such as money, work, food, sex, power and so on.
Though we may focus the things of the world to the point of anxiety, the Lord challenges us to expand our horizons and reach out to others. The Ancient One taught Dr. Strange that his hands could serve better by protecting the world from forces like Dormammu, rather than only saving patients in the hospital. In the same way, the Lord teaches us to use our resources for a higher purpose, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, teaching the uneducated, and so on.
In the end, the Lord’s will for us is to help improve the lives of the less fortunate. And that, in itself, is a powerful way to shape reality.
– Written by Patrick Tiongson