Milestones & Dark Humor

Milestones & Dark Humor

The Introduction

Let me take you back to 2001 for just a moment. There’s a hilarious scene in the movie Zoolander in which Mugatu unveils his new design for the school he wants to build in the protagonist’s honor. As Mugatu, played by Will Ferrill, pulls the crimson sheet off the pedestal to reveal the architectural design, there’s a moment of tension as Zoolander, played by Ben Stiller, inspects the proposition. What is he going to say? Mugatu is on pins and needles as he waits, hoping Derek will embrace his design. After a thorough perusal, Derek takes a confident step back and responds in his classic diva fashion, “What is this?!” The stern look on his face catches Mugatu by surprise and robs him of a response before Derek tosses the design to the floor, not bothering to watch it shatter into pieces.

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He continues at Mugatu, furthering his line of questioning, “A center for ants?!” Mugatu’s face twists in confusion before he begins to grasp what just happened. Derek actually believed that the center was the size of the model. He actually thought that Mugatu was proposing such a ridiculous design. “The center needs to be at least three times this big!” Derek concludes in his rant. Hilarious. I remember reenacting the scene at school with friends as we laughed at the absurdity of the situation.

 

The Problem

I’ve often found dark truths lurking behind the veil of parody. We hide them in order to avoid them. After all, laughter is often preferred to the gravity of facing the truth. It takes a boldness to push past the veil. The daring to face down one’s own heart and to wrestle with the intentions that shelter therein is a quality at which no one should scoff.

So, might I invite you to do just that.

In our adventures with God we tend to fix our eyes on achievements we hope to obtain. They differ from person to person. For instance, the single man trekking with God for the long haul will have mountains of sexual purity he hopes to climb. One man hopes to stop having sex with his girlfriend, since God has called and redeemed him in the midst of such circumstances in which such expectations have already been established. Another man, having never touched a woman sexually, hopes to conquer his addiction to pornography, to which he has been enslaved for as long as he can remember.

Fathers hope to be an image of God’s love to their sons because their own fathers left so much to be desired. Mothers hope to maintain the right balance of closed and open-handed love with their children because some were given free reign as children and others were locked up like Fort Knox.

Pastors want to preach life-changing sermons that explode their church attendance. Students want to either pass with flying colors or slide in at the last moment so that they can use the excess time to become social butterflies.

We all have milestones before us that companionship with God will require us to reach. However, might I point out a dangerous ditch into which many fall? God has an established destination to which he is leading each traveler. However, within each traveler’s heart lies the temptation to abort said destination for the nearness and sweetness of victory over the next milestone. The secondary becomes the primary. The minor becomes the major. And all of this is exchanged in the name of convenience and comfort. “We’ve done it!” resounding triumphantly. All the while, the truth behind the veil is that we are exhausted from the climb and refuse to trust God to honor his Word and renew our strength for the next milestone.

In this light, we make the mound into a mountain. We exaggerate and drown out any questioning with excited revelry. Hilariously enough, the challenge of Zoolander finds its mark in each of our hearts. It is a dark humor. “What is this” he cries, “a center for ants?!” Who’s the real clown? At whose expense is this joke climaxing? Push beyond the veil.  Wrestle with your own heart.

The truth is that the milestones that become our ultimate destinations are simply too small. The man seeking to conquer his addiction to pornography eventually ceases to plan for expeditions beyond that dark locale. He no longer intends to travel into darker parts of his own heart or this world. His focus is fixed, never to be moved. His sights are forever set abysmally low. Real darkness lies not in the struggle. Rather, it rests at home in the confident footfalls of the man enslaved to travel no farther. This is where we fight. We were made for so much more.

The Biblical Parallel – OT

Take this peculiar passage out of the book of Ezra for reference. Upon returning to the promised land out of exile, the Israelites set themselves to the task of rebuilding the temple of God. When they had laid the foundations, the author records this:

All the people gave a loud shout as they praised the Lord when the temple of the Lord was established. Many of the priests, the Levites, and the leaders – older people who had seen with their own eyes the former temple while it was still established – were weeping loudly, and many others raised their voice in a joyous shout. People were unable to tell the difference between the sound of joyous shouting and the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people were shouting so loudly that the sound was heard a long way off.”

Ezra 3:11b-13

You’ll completely miss the dark reality embedded in these three verses if you speed through them on the way to your milestone of reading the Bible in a year. What a horrific scene! The completion of the temple’s foundation sparks the rejoicing of the new generations of Israelites born during the exile. They had never seen the old temple, never witnessed the glory of the former. This milestone for them was cause for worship! And so they worshipped. Mixed thoroughly into that worship was the weeping of the old ones who had witnessed the possibility of the former. Weeping and Joy mixed together in a haunting scene in which so many are deceived into thinking that what they’ve accomplished is worth celebrating. The scope of their design was incredibly small and the terrifying part of the whole ordeal is that they are completely comfortable with this reality. Indeed, they are blind to its existence. They drown out the weeping with cheers. In a sense, they ridicule the clown as he parodies them with moronic questioning. Who’s the real clown, though? At whose expense does this joke reach its climax?

The Image Unveiled

The ultimate reality that the temple of God was meant to point to was the church of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians, the Holy Spirit teaches us through Paul:

“And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:17-22

This is no meager foundation God has laid with Christ the cornerstone. This is a foundation with a global scope. It includes people near and far. Anything less is in danger of suffering a clown’s ridicule. Might we not settle for less. Might we not succumb to the allure of cutting the foundation short for an extra day of rest and misplaced triumph. Might we not mix dark sorrow into our confident joy. Fix your eyes upon the given destination and refuse with all wit and might to settle for a near victory.

The Future Ahead

What exactly is this destination established by our companion King? What better place to look than at the end?

After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. 10 They were shouting out in a loud voice,

“Salvation belongs to our God,

to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Revelation 7:9-10

Our King’s foundation is enormous, his scope global. Should not we join him in this perspective? He aims to redeem nations, not only our sexual purity. He desires to liberate whole peoples, not simply our desire to be Godly fathers to our children. When we settle for these milestones we miss entirely the whole picture of our Savior’s plan. We mix dark sorrow into the cup of eternal joy that He has for us.

The ultimate destination by no means negates the milestones nor discounts their value. Make no mistake, they are incredibly valuable. Yet when their incredible value becomes supreme value they become bankrupt because they disconnect from the King and His ultimate story. Do not delete them from your heart, indeed such a thought is ludicrous. Rather, set them in their proper place with regard to the King’s order and plan. Set them properly with regard to the cross. May it be your eternal point of reference.

What does it mean to join our God in His global scope for this enormous foundation? Let me pose a further question. What in your life conveys the reality of the enormity of this foundation? What in your life conveys its global scope? Where does your money go? Where does your time go? Where are your prayers leveraged? What breaks your heart in this world? Do the answers to any of those questions reveal the grand mission of God?

Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

All nations. Does anything in your life reveal those two words? Something should. Take the money you give to church, for instance. Do you actually know what that is used for, or are you content with knowing that you gave? For instance, my church gives 4% of the budget to global missionary efforts. That’s four dollars stamped with “all nations” out of every hundred given.

Seek to know these things. Press beyond the veil and wrestle with your own heart’s tendency to stop short of all nations. Move beyond the clown’s ridicule and face the truth. The One who rescues you calls you to a scope of global proportions. Something in your life should echo that call. What is it for you?

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This post was written by
Jordan Hope's passion is to reach those around her and to the ends of the earth with the life changing reality of Jesus Christ. Her passion is to serve orphans in any way, shape or form. She currently works as a foster mom to adolescent boys near Austin, TX. Jordan met the Myers in 2012 and joined them in their journey to take the gospel to the unreached. She currently resides in Austin, Texas where she serves at Wells Branch Community Church as the Missions Ministry Administrator.

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