God makes an amazing promise in the Bible. He says we will seek him and find him if we seek him with our whole hearts (see Jeremiah 29:13 ). I’ve personally put that promise to the test, and I’m here to say it’s absolutely true.
We can find God anywhere if we look for him, even in mainstream movies like James Cameron’s Avatar.
As a part of my mission to “find God in unexpected ways in everyday life,” I will be looking for God in a movie of my readers’ choosing every week. This past Saturday, Jenny Lee Young of Coffee in the Rain challenged me to take on the epic sci-fi film, Avatar.
My response? Challenge accepted.
If you haven’t seen Avatar, first of all, you need to fix that, like yesterday. Avatar isn’t the highest grossing film of all time for nothing. So serious, go watch the movie.
If you’re still here and you still haven’t seen this mind-blowing film, proceed at your own risk. This blog post will contain spoilers. Consider yourself warned!
So what does God have to do with a sci-fi movie set on some distant planet? Well, everything apparently.
If I wanted to take the easy way out in this challenge, I could simply say that God makes his appearance in the film as Eywa, the Na’vi deity. But it gets so much better than that in this movie.
There are so many possible Christian tie-ins here that I could write all day, but in this post I’m zeroing in on Jake Sully.
As you (hopefully!) know, this wounded ex-Marine comes to the planet of Pandora to participate in the Avatar program. By mixing human and Na’vi DNA, the scientists in this program create Na’vi bodies that human pilots, like Jake, can control via high tech computers.
So let’s see what we’ve got so far… an ex-Marine, a “Frankenstein” science project, futuristic computers, and aliens. So naturally, the first thing I think of while watching this film is King David.
Yes, I said King David, the Old Testament figure. Don’t see the connection yet? Well, keep reading.
David, of course, is best known for his quintessential underdog fight with the Philistine giant, Goliath, but there’s so much more to David’s story than meets the eye, literally.
Before David became the warrior king of Israel, David was a loser. Yeah, you heard me right.
David was a “runt of the litter loser shepherd boy” from the town of Bethlehem. Of course, all that changed when God chose him, but if you’d seen David back in those early days, you never would have guessed that he’d go down as one of the greatest kings in history.
David’s family certainly didn’t expect him to amount to much, and neither did the prophet, Samuel.
God told Samuel that the next king of Israel would be one of Jesse’s son’s. But here’s the thing, God didn’t tell Samuel which son until Samuel actually got to Bethlehem. Once Samuel arrived, Jesse brought out his sons one by one. To make matters even more confusing for Samuel, all the older boys looked the part of a king.
Samuel kept wanting to jump to conclusions about who the next king might be, but God warned Samuel that appearances aren’t everything.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV.
The son that Samuel anointed that day was the one person everyone discounted as a hopeless reject. But God doesn’t see people like we see them. God saw David’s heart, and God saw the man he wanted to be king.
The Na’vi have a special phrase. Roughly translated into English, it means “I see you,” but this isn’t the kind of seeing we do with our eyes. The phrase means, I see you: your essence, your heart, who you truly are.
That’s the kind of sight God used when he looked at David. It’s also the kind of sight Eywa used when looking at Sully.
Like David, Jake Sully was the last person you’d expect to become a hero. A washed up wheelchair-bound cripple, this ex-Marine wasn’t even suppose to go to Pandora. Jake’s twin brother, Tom, was the scientist. He’d trained for years for the Avatar program… until he was mugged and killed shortly before the spaceship was to leave.
The program, not wanting to waste all the money they’d invested in growing Tom’s Avatar, only turned to Jake in desperation. Since Jake’s DNA was the same as Tom’s, Jake and only Jake could take over piloting Tom’s Avatar.
Jake was a warrior at heart who could no longer fight. He suddenly found himself in a science project for which he was unprepared (and where he wasn’t welcome by the other qualified scientist). Even in his Avatar body, Jake didn’t have a clue. Everyone thought he was a hopeless loser… except Eywa.
Eywa saw Jake, and Eywa saw a hero. As a sign to the Na’vi people, Eywa anointed Jake with woodsprites. The message was undeniable. Jake Sully, of all people, was the chosen one.
Now, I am NOT going to give the rest away. If you don’t know how the story ends, like I said, you need to go see this movie. I will, however, say this much. Jake, like David, answers the call on his life, and he goes on to fight a battle that will be remembered for all of history.
I’ll say it one more time. Do yourself a favor and go see the movie (or go see it again!). It doesn’t get much better than King David going to Pandora.
In the mean time, I hope you will join me in a simple prayer. I pray that God gives us his eyes. We need to see people like the Na’vi strive to see people. When we see someone through God’s eyes, it’s then that we can learn to love them as God loves us.
Thanks so much for reading. Don’t forget, this is a new weekly feature at my blog, Give Us This Day Our PB&J. If you enjoyed this post, sign up to follow my blog so you can receive email updates of new posts as they become available.
If you’d like to challenge me to find God in your favorite movies, head over to “Monday Night Movies with PB&J.” I look forward to hearing your ideas!
I see you, my friends, and God bless you.
Where else do you see God in Avatar? In what other ways is Jake Sully like King David? On the other hand, maybe you think I’m all wrong! Tell me about it in the comments section below. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
Brandon Heath’s music video “Give Me Your Eyes”