This latest Thor movie is a ton of fun and lighthearted laughs (but thankfully not the raunchy kind that are so popular today). It was really delightful! It also covers a lot of ground, especially in regards to topics for conversation. Leaving aside the massive topic of the character and nature of God (because Odin and Thor are supposed to be gods, but aren’t like GOD at all… they are more like super-powered humans), I’ve mentioned just a few below.
- Families are complicated.
All three kids have “daddy issues” with Odin. Hela and Loki both want the power and blessing that was passed to Thor (though, he had to go through a lot to be worthy of it before he got it). Hela was a complete secret to the boys. Loki is a trickster and schemer and you never really know if he can be trusted—but Thor continues to hope for the best. He always loved his brother. There is a lot of pain and drama to explore in this crazy family which, frankly, is strikingly similar to the family dramas that played out in the Old Testament kings and patriarchs and their offspring. (For example, Loki bears some resemblance to Jacob, another trickster.) Too much to unpack here, so let’s summarize a few key things:
- Families are nearly all complicated.
- It doesn’t matter what you come from or who your parents or siblings are, you still get to choose who you will be. They don’t have to define you.
- Jesus says to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). This applies to (some members) our family too. This is how Thor treated Loki – always innocently hoping for the best, but wisely, shrewdly, preparing for the worst.
- Malachi 4:6, it’s God’s plan to repair the relationships between children and fathers. “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.”
- Sometimes you will discover hidden secrets in your family that will threaten all you thought you knew. You can survive that. It may seem to negate what was true to you before, but things aren’t always black and white, all or nothing. Often, if not most always, things are both/and. The wonderful thing is that there are no skeletons in God’s closet. You will keep learning more about Him, because He is infinite, but His character is perfect and consistent. So no matter how you might be shaken in your earthly family, you need not be shaken with your Heavenly Father.
- You and your siblings will probably not have the same experience of your parents. You may even have seemingly opposite experiences and opinions of them. And in reality, in many ways, you did grow up with different parents than they did because people grow and change. They aren’t the same people with you as they were with your older or younger sibling because they’ve had a different amount of experience. Add to that, the differences in your personalities brings out different dynamics in them. And finally, changes in external circumstances bear great influence on you all as well. Understanding this can help you have grace when other people have different perspectives. Again, both can be true.
- Respecting our neighbor’s freedom isn’t the same as not getting involved. Loki says they should respect a neighboring country’s freedom and not get involved. But Thor questions that. He asks if Loki really means they respect their “freedom to be slaughtered,” because that’s what was happening. Sometimes we use “respect” as an excuse to protect our own selves, and/or to defend our complacency.
- Heroes run toward their problems. It is tempting to run away, or to just check out and not face hard things. We numb ourselves with substances, with entertainment, with work, with all sorts of things…anything to just hide from our problems. But that’s not what heroes do. It’s also not what Christ would do—at any point He could have numbed or even escaped His suffering all together. He didn’t have to come to earth. He didn’t have to suffer the cross. But He did, in full force. And He tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Our goal on earth shouldn’t be to avoid suffering, but to suffer well when the time comes.
- You can see without seeing. Jesus said that to the Pharisees. Odin said it to Thor. “Even when you have two eyes, you see only half the picture.” As Thor lost his eye, and his hammer, that’s when he began to see more truly. Kind of like Saul/Paul who was blinded for 3 days, and learned to see the truth of Jesus and the scriptures for the first time. Sometimes we only gain something when we lose it.
- We can mistake a tool for a source. Thor assumed his hammer was the source of his strength. Therefore, when it was gone, he felt helpless. Like his sight, though, it was when he lost his hammer (which had become a crutch) that he found his true strength. Odin helped him understand. “Are you the God of Thunder or the God of Hammer? That hammer was to help you focus your strength.” It was not the source of his strength. It did not magnify his strength. In fact, his strength was too great for him to handle in his immaturity, so the hammer was there to channel and focus it. Rather than amplify his strength, it more nearly muted it. By this point, however, Thor had the maturity and strength to handle his power without the hammer…he just had to learn that his tool was merely a tool and not his source.
The Christian life is filled with this same temptation. This is why God nearly always changes things up on us. Just look at how He did miracles in the Old Testament and you’ll see—His battle plan and the tools He uses for victory and miracles…they change every time. Why? Because we people are quick to make a tool into a source and therefore into an idol. God wants us to continually see HIM as the source, our only source. HE is the way, the truth and the life. HE is the one, true, all-powerful, all-knowing, everlasting God. So He will allow the things we trust in, the things we love, the things we put our hope in to be taken from us again and again—not to be cruel, but so that we would learn to seek them first in HIS arms. When we do, we often discover, as Thor did, that those things were crutches that we needed for a time, but that they were holding us back and slowing us down (as crutches will once their purpose is served). That thing we thought was the source of our strength was only a tool. Our true source lives within us and has unlimited power if we will go to HIM for it, instead of relying on external tools. (Reminder, God has given us ALL things that we need for life and godliness, 2 Peter 1:3.)
Questions for Discussion:
- Who do you relate to most in Thor’s crazy family, and why?
- Can you think of any Biblical families that have similar dynamics to some of these in Thor: Ragnarok?
- Have you ever mistaken a tool for a source?
- Thor lost an eye but gained sight. Lost his hammer and gained power. Have you ever lost something, but because of that found it in even greater measure?
- What method of escapism is your go to? (Substances, Netflix/entertainment, shopping, sports, busyness, etc.) How do you fight that temptation?