Don’t look under the bed, or in the closet, or in the basement. And don’t investigate that noise or that creepy hallway. And definitely don’t open that door or step outside.
In almost any horror movie, you can expect a monster to be hiding in any of the above locations, just waiting for someone to get too close. And if you’ve watched a horror movie, you’ve probably caught yourself screaming some of the above commands to the people on screen. Unfortunately, people in horror movies typically don’t make the best decisions, often falling directly into the clutches of the monsters rather than escaping to safety.
The clutches of these monsters can be fascinating, however. Take Pennywise from IT, for example. Pennywise, while most often appearing as a clown, preys on each victim’s deepest fears. When he comes for people, he comes in the guise of what frightens them most, exposing their weaknesses and attacking them on the battlefield of imagination. And he’s not the only creature to expose the deepest parts of us. Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street weaponizes dreams against his victims, turning even sleep into a trap. The creature from The Thing, with its ability to mimic the appearance of other living beings, isolates its victims as they struggle to determine who they can trust. Each movie monster seems to take something fairly benign and turn it into a weapon against us. Each creature, to some extent, takes an aspect of who we are as people and both amplifies and distorts it. When these monsters are present, nothing is safe.
The reality, of course, is that we ourselves are far worse than any horror story monster. In Romans 3, Paul clearly lays out the state of the lost soul, showing that we’re all corrupt apart from grace, that no one is safe. Scripture testifies to the truth of his assessment, showing from the earliest chapters of Genesis to the last few pages of Revelation that humanity, without the LORD, is a hopeless lot. Monsters roam where men and women should be. And Christians aren’t immune from the fall’s effects, as Paul arguably shows in Romans 7. We do what we know we shouldn’t and fail to do what we know we should. We fight and quarrel. We point fingers and ridicule. We call each other names. We abuse, neglect, and forget. Contra Paul in Philippians 2, we count ourselves more significant than others.
We are monstrous at the core, mangled and marred by our association with sin and death. No movie monster could compare to what we would be if we were not held by God’s mercy and grace. Indeed, the love of God makes all the difference, transforming us from sinners to daughters and sons. We who knew only death now know life because of Jesus. We who feared all manner of things now learn to fear only One, the fear of whom makes all lesser fears forgotten. We now rejoice in – even boast in – our weaknesses because our weaknesses show our God to be strong and sufficient. Where we once hid in terror, we now stand in faith. What once caused us shame now serves to tell the Savior’s story.
I don’t know if you watch many horror movies. I don’t blame you if you don’t. But if you do, think about what the monsters might be highlighting in the next film you view. Consider the ways such creatures highlight the darker parts of our souls. If we’re honest, we may see more of ourselves in the monsters than we want to admit, and we may, unfortunately, have grown too comfortable with those darker aspects of our character, those bad habits, those sins. Seeing the darker areas of our lives should move us to action, to reformation, to the laying aside of every weight and sin as we follow the example of Christ (Hebrews 12). We dare not coddle sin or resist the conviction of the Spirit, regardless of how deep sin’s roots may run. We are called to holiness (1 Peter 1:13-19), to set our eyes on things above rather than on earthly things (Colossians 3), to abide in Christ (John 15). And while we can’t fix ourselves or make ourselves righteous, we can rejoice that the one who can make us holy saw even the hidden parts of our souls and still chose us to be his people. Because of him, we don’t have to stay as we are.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Thanks to Dearon for giving me the main idea of today’s post. Thanks to Maci for her editing and feedback.