Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What Pixar taught me about... the Problem of Evil

Having small children has made me see the world through the lens of animated films.  And Pixar, specifically, has made some incredible movies that reveal  much about the tasks of Preaching and Evangelism.

In my opinion, though, Pixar's most under-appreciated film is "A Bug's Life."  Who knew that a movie whose main character is an ant could teach you about the dangers of technology, the need to be wary of workaholic fleas, and help you understand the problem of evil?

The ants in this story live under the oppressive thumb... er wing of Hopper.  This evil Grasshopper and his gang of thugs show up at harvest time each year to collect an offering of food and in return they provide 'protection' from other more dangerous bugs.  The main character, Flick the Ant, an engineer and inventor at heart, ends up having to leave the hill in search of bigger bugs to save the colony.

Near the end of the film, Flick's plan to deceive the Grasshoppers has unraveled and as Hopper gets ready to squish our hero, the colony finally realizes that they outnumber their enemy 100-to-1.  When Hopper sees the ants linking arms, determined to work together to save Flick, there is genuine terror in his eyes.  He has used fear to keep the colony down and divided, but now they will use the  power of community to triumph over evil.

Evil depends on fear.

Fear functions best in isolation.

A united community can overcome evil.

Heady stuff for a children's film, right?

During our furlough last year, Rachel and I heard Randy Harris speak at Lipscomb University.  He said that, "we have whole industries that use fear and insecurity to jerk you around and make you buy what they are selling." He was talking about consumer culture in America among other things, but my mind wandered back to our home in Africa.  I thought about the way the Evil One uses fear and insecurity to keep our friends in Mozambique down. I was snapped back to the present, though, when Randy referenced a quote by James Bryan Smith: "You are a member of the Kingdom of God.  And the Kingdom of God is never in trouble."

'Community' has been a popular buzz-word these days - either it is overused or misused depending on your perspective.  'Community' is often presented as a magical elixir that can solve any of our ills.  Maybe the isolation of American culture had made us thirst for something more transcendent.  But the question that remains is: what kind of community are we talking about?

If we find our identity in a lesser community, one ruled by Hoppers both real and imaginary, then it will not matter how unified we are, we will still be oppressed.  But if our identity is rooted in the Kingdom of God, if our community is united under that banner of peace, then we have nothing to fear.  As its citizens, we can rest in the fact that the Kingdom of God is never in trouble... even in the face of evil.

Last week I posted about the five giants that oppress people in our part of Mozambique.  I mentioned  the plan to fast and pray for God to bring down these giants.  One of the reasons that we are fasting and praying about this as a group is to use the power of community to overcome these giants.  In my mind, I can visualize hundreds and hundreds of Davids launching their stones at these five giants. 

A bunch of us will be praying and fasting from March 17 to March 30. Please join us in prayer that God would defeat these Giants.  And, if you feel called, give up some meals as part of your petition to defeat these enemies.  We'd love to have you link arms with us and partner with God to send evil running.

Grace and Peace,


  1. Greetings from the other corner of Africa...Thanks for sharing these insightful thoughts. I found my way here via your post on Story Warren. Looking forward to more.

  2. thanks for the encouragement! Where in Africa are you?