The MacGuffin


In most movies there is an object or a specific goal that is deemed important early on by the characters in the film, only to turn out to be irrelevant or worthless to the larger plot.  

The realization of this fact is often a defining moment for the protagonist in a movie.  It's the moment when they finally realize what they had been pursuing was not their ultimate goal. 

Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock popularized a term to describe this object: MacGuffin.  

And, while the MacGuffin is most easily recognized in films like The Maltese Falcon (the falcon), Citizen Kane (Rosebud), and Titanic (Rose's necklace), it is a concept that can be traced back to the legends of King Arthur (the Holy Grail), the ancient mythology of Greece and Rome, and even farther back to stories from Mesopotamia, dated 1400 years or so before the Greek legends.  

In other words, human beings have a long history of missing the point. 

Christians are no different.  For example, the dominant goal that has consumed so many Christians for centuries, is the belief that the end of the world is quickly approaching, and our goal as Christians is to get as many people on to the winning team (ours) before the rest of the world goes to Hell. 

But what I've come to understand is that when it comes to the story of God's great plan of salvation, what most Christians think is the goal, the object moving us forward, is actually the MacGuffin.  

Far too many Christians spend countless amounts of energy, time and resources trying to predict God's plans for the future of this world, and essentially ignore all that they could be doing to impact it's future here and now.  

Pastor and author Rob Bell recently wrote, "Some people have tremendous concern about the apocalypse we can't control and nowhere near enough concern for the one we can control." 

The New Testament writers definitely believed that God was going to do something at some point in the future---that Jesus would return to set the world to rights and transform all of Creation, including us.  But Jesus himself talked often about the kingdom of God that was both "now and not yet."  

This knowledge led those NT writers to preach that Christians should be good citizens, neighbors, hard workers, loving, compassionate and sacrificial.  

In other words, to do everything they could to transform the world around them while they anticipated what God was up to in the future.  

May you live into the hope of God's kingdom that is both now and not yet.  May you discover ways to share the Good News of Jesus through your care of Creation, your passion for a better world, your love of neighbor... right here, right now... 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 




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