Guardians of the Galaxy – Movie Discussion

guardians-galaxy-big

It’s being touted by many as the best of the Marvel movies.  It’s a little bit cheeky, a little bit spoof, a little bit real, little bit star wars, little bit superhero…but whatever it is, it’s a lot of fun.  It’s also a great illustration of the Christian life…and therefore a great opportunity to talk to people about Jesus!

In a nutshell, it’s a story about a band of misfits and criminals who become the guardians of the galaxy.  Their crimes vary.  One is a man grieving the loss of his wife and children seeking revenge.  Another is a thief, yet another an assassin.  One is simply the muscle, the thug side-kick of the thief—but none are clean.  They all, for various reasons and in varying degrees, have broken the law…and ended up together in jail.

Danger threatens the galaxy, and this group of misfits joins together to break out of jail and try to stop it.  The ringleader of the group, Quill, says, “So here we are: a thief, two thugs, an assassin and a maniac. But we’re not going to stand by as evil wipes out the galaxy. I guess we’re stuck together, partners.”  So they join together, reluctant partners.

Quill, in what’s meant to be a motivational speech says, “I look around, you know what I see?  Losers! … I mean, people who have lost stuff.”  It’s funny, but it’s true—in every sense of the word.  They are losers.  They are losers from society’s standpoint—criminals, thugs, undesirables.  They have all done shameful things.  They are also, as Quill clarifies, people who have lost stuff.  They have lost their families, their innocence, their self-respect, their reputations, their rights.  They are losers, unlikely choices to become guardians of anything, much less the galaxy.

Along the way, as they are thrown into this journey of saving the galaxy, they begin to change.  They begin to care for each other.  They become a family.  They begin to sacrifice their lives for each other’s.  They begin to live for a greater cause than their own personal interests.  At one point, Rocket tells Quill, “Stopping Ronan…it’s impossible.  You’re asking us to die.”  Quill responds, “Yeah, I guess I am.”  It’s a lot to ask—to attempt the impossible, knowing it’s most likely going to cost their lives…and they all say yes.  They all agree to sacrifice their lives for a greater cause and for the love of each other.

They do this.  Against all odds, they defeat the imminent threat and save the galaxy.  Heroes now, an officer of the law, Corpsman Dey, explains to them that their past transgressions will be forgiven and they will go on together, a team with a mission to fight against evil.  They have been given great honor and responsibility, but he also cautions them that they will be required now to uphold the law, to live as citizens rather than outlaws.  This is a hard concept for the former law breakers.  They have changed a lot…for the better, but their past habits and emotions still linger.  “Question—what if I see something I want? … What if I want it really bad, more than the other guy?…” Rocket asks.  Corpsman Dey is a little dumbfounded by this.  “That’s stealing…  It’s illegal.  No.”  Then Drax wonders, “What if someone does something [that angers me] and I decide to remove his spine?”  Again, Corpsman Dey is nearly speechless, “That’s murder…and also illegal.  So…no.”

It’s funny, but it’s more than that—this movie rings true.  The Gospel message is that we are all law breakers.  God gave man the law, and man has never been able to keep it.  We may be law breakers to varying degrees, some having committed worse crimes than other, but the reality is, we have ALL broken the law.    None of us is clean.

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” – Romans 3:10-18

In the movie, the punishment for breaking the law was jail.  According to the Bible, the punishment for breaking God’s law (which we call sin) is death[1].  And we all deserve death because we have all broken the law.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that Jesus didn’t want us to die, so He died for us, paying the punishment for our sins.  He then offers salvation to us.  Now, there isn’t a Jesus figure in Guardians of the Galaxy, and the guardians don’t put their faith in anything, but here is what seems very much Christian to me:  Jesus brought salvation to the misfits, the law breakers, the sinners, the worst and the least, the lost and the lonely.  It was these people whom he chose to follow Him.  His followers were less superheroes and more losers.  They were the lepers, the widows, the prostitutes, the orphans and tax collectors and thieves…  They were losers in society’s eyes, just as they were people who had lost—their dignity, their right standing, their families, their friends, their hope, their innocence, etc.  Losers.  And God chose them.

Jesus’ unlikely band of losers ended up changing the world.  They spread the good news of Jesus to the corners of the earth.  They began to live for a bigger cause, to die to self, to risk their lives for the good news of Jesus…and along the way they realized they had become a part of the family of God.

That doesn’t, however, mean they were just instantly holy, perfect people.  It was kind of a process.  Just like it was a process for the guardians to change, to set aside their law breaking ways and begin to think like the heroes they were, it was a process (and is a process) for the followers of Jesus to set aside their sinful ways and selfish thinking and learn to be holy, as Jesus was and is Holy.  You can see it in the Bible as Peter swears he’ll always be faithful to Jesus, and then denies him three times.  Forgiven.   You can see it when the disciples who are supposed to be servants start arguing over who will be greatest in the Kingdom.  Forgiven.  You can see it when Thomas doubts that the risen savior is really Jesus.  Forgiven.  Restored.  Paul writes about this battle in his own life, “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19).  It’s a struggle.  It’s a process.

When we decide to follow Jesus, we become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.  The only thing is that we have to learn to live as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven…just like the disciples did.   We have to learn to live by God’s rules, rather than our own impulses and selfish desires.  We laugh at Rocket and Drax asking Corpsman Dey about the rules, but don’t we do the same thing with God?  We are excited about the clean slate, the fresh start.  We are excited to have gone from outlaw to hero, from fugitive to citizen…but we are concerned.  We haven’t ever really lived by the Kingdom laws before, and we aren’t sure if we can now.  So, what if I meet someone and I really, really, really like him/her…can’t I still sleep with him/her?  But what if no one will know, do I really have to tell the truth?  Do I really have to give the money back—no one will know that I found it?  And on we go, questioning how far we really have to go to be holy, how closely we really have to adhere to God’s law.  We wonder about a million compromises and try to finagle our way around a million little character flaws.  Here’s Jesus, shaking his head, maybe a little bit dumbfounded at the stupidity of the questions coming out of our mouths, but lovingly, patiently saying, “No, it’s still a sin…so no.”   “No, hating someone is like murdering him in your heart…so no.”  “Lusting after someone is like committing adultery with them…so no.”[2] And here’s Jesus, knowing we are going to mess up, but ready to forgive and restore us when we do.  Why?  Because He knows that holiness takes time.  Because he is hopeful that with time we will become the citizens and heroes He created us to be.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Why do you think we relate with the misfit band of guardians so much?
  • How are the guardians kind of like the disciples…and kind of like us?
  • The guardians were all guilty of breaking the law. It didn’t matter if they were really good people/creatures or not because they were all guilty before the law.  How is this like what the Bible says about man and sin?
  • Do you agree with the Bible when it says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)? Why or why not?
  • How does it make you feel that these former lawbreakers and outcasts could become heroes?
  • How does it make you feel that Jesus said that he came for the sick—“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17)?  How does it make you feel to hear that the men He chose to change the world were in many ways the outcasts and the bad guys of society?
  • Why do you think Corpsman Dey let the guardians leave when they were asking questions and trying to get permission to commit crimes?
  • Have you ever struggled with trying to live like Jesus, but wondered if you could give up your old ways?  What did you do?

Click here to read Quotes from Guardians of the Galaxy.  

[1] Romans 3:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

[2] See Matthew 5:17-47

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