In the Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is being threatened by a great evil, Thanos. Thanos argues that he is trying to save the universe—that overpopulation threatens to consume all the resources and therefore the only way to save it is to wipe out large populations of people, genocide. Of course, he gets to decide who lives and who dies and he himself will, naturally, live.
This brings up the issue of the dangers of a poverty/scarcity mindset. When you are afraid that there won’t be enough for you, the temptation is to grasp, hoard and control resources. Thanos didn’t care who died, so long as his comfort and provision was secure. It’s quite a contrast to the Avengers who sacrifice themselves for the good of others. The Avengers have more of a Christlike/Kingdom mentality. See how Paul encourages the Philippians to live like Christ and serve one another:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:3-11)
The Avengers risked their lives to protect the weak and vulnerable. They even fought with each other for the opportunity to sacrifice their lives that each other might live. They didn’t try to hold on to security or comfort or even their own lives. They didn’t worry about there not being enough. Their mindset was that they weren’t thinking of themselves, but of others. They generally felt there was enough for everyone, and if the time came that there wasn’t, they would give what they had. They would do without. This is a Kingdom mindset, the one Christ encourages us to have.
As the Avengers fought Thanos, it wasn’t looking good. Dr. Strange was able to see into the future, to see every possible way things might turn out, and out of “fourteen million six hundred and five” he told the Avengers, they only won one of those iterations. That’s okay—its’ The Avengers, after all, and we know they’ll win. They only need one option. So, with great confidence in the storytellers and movie producers, we viewers went along and watched, confident in a coming victory.
But then they lost. Or at least, it seems that they have. They all are erased. They disappear into nothingness… and the movie ends. (Sorry for the spoilers.) Well, the movie is on pause, anyway, until the next installment.
I confess, I was angry. It seemed the whole theater was mad. None of us were prepared for that ending. I didn’t know it was only part 1 and not a complete story.
THIS is just a small idea of how the disciples must have felt when Jesus died. They were certain of a victory. They trusted Jesus; trusted God from whom He came. God is a good author. He doesn’t lose, doesn’t fail, doesn’t leave things unfinished. And yet, Jesus died. The story seemed unfinished and over all at the same time. It seemed good had lost and evil had triumphed. That’s NOT the way things are supposed to go!
We have the benefit of knowing the story will be continued. I know the story isn’t over, it’s just on hold. I don’t know how on earth the writers will redeem it, but I know they will. Right as he was disappearing, Dr. Strange told Stark, “There was no other way.” That’s an encouraging statement—it means this way was not an accident or a loss; it was intentional, and it was good. When Jesus was it the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked His Father, if there was another way to choose that one… He didn’t. Because Jesus’ death, too, was the only way. It was intentional, and it was good.
I encourage you, as you wait for the resurrection of the Avengers to happen, take a minute to think about what it must have felt like to be in the aftermath of Jesus’ death. What if you didn’t know there was a part 2, a resurrection coming? What disappointment and shock and surprise must they have felt? And take a minute to think about your own life, too. Are there areas of seeming loss and defeat where you are a bit stunned? Does it seem that evil has triumphed in some story line you are a part of? Let me remind you that we serve a God of resurrection, and that sometimes there was no other way. Take your disappointments to the Lord. Wait for Him there. There is a sequel coming… maybe on this earth, and maybe on the new earth and new heavens. I cannot say when, only that God is not done yet. He finishes what He started. And He wins!
Questions for Discussion:
- What is your response when you don’t feel there is enough to go around? Does fear set in? Do you start to want to look out for number one? Or do you start to worry that someone else might not have all they need? Do you trust God to provide for your needs?
- Do you spend your energy protecting and providing for yourself, or protecting and providing for others? Which did Thanos do? The Avengers? Jesus?
- How did you feel at the end of the movie? How might that relate to the way the disciples felt when Jesus died?
- Are there areas of seeming loss and defeat where you are a bit stunned? Does it seem that evil has triumphed in some story line you are a part of? How can waiting on part two of the Avengers movie encourage you to wait and trust God with “part 2” of your story?