I will freely and unashamedly admit that I helped secure “The Avengers” a $200.3 million opening weekend. Sure, I went for the entertainment value, too. I also knew that with Joss Whedon writing and directing, there would be at least passing references to spirituality. Though the dialogue focused more on action and humor than spirituality, one line arrested my attention.
Loki, the primary villain, asks Nick Fury, the leader of the Avengers, “How desperate are you? You call upon such lost creatures to defend you.” This question reminds me of the way the Bible uses the concept of lostness. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel are often likened to lost sheep. In the New Testament story of the lost son (often called the story of the Prodigal Son), the father indicates his son was lost, but now has been found, a concept John Newton later used in the song “Amazing Grace.”
Amazing grace, indeed. It seems that the Bible is full of “lost” people doing the work of God. Rahab, a prostitute, assists in the overthrow of Jericho. David, an adulterer and murderer, writes poignant psalms and is called “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). There’s the story of Jonah, in which (deep breath) the reluctant missionary runs away from God, is swallowed by a big fish, repents, goes to do the work God asked him to do, complains that the people actually listened and repented, and has to do additional repenting for his attitude. Not exactly your poster child for missionary work. Jesus’ disciples are a ragtag crew, falling asleep when he most needs them and running away when he is arrested. Well, most ran away. Peter, however, spent quite some time that night trying to convince people he was not a disciple of Jesus. It seems that God, like Nick Fury, also uses lost creatures.
In “The Avengers,” the fate of the world rests in the hands of a disparate group of “lost creatures.” Nick Fury is desperate, and there are very few options left to him. That is one difference, however, between God and the plot of “The Avengers.” God is not desperate; rather, because of his immeasurable love, God intentionally seeks out those who are lost — or who have at one time lost their way — and uses them for his purposes. The examples listed above are merely a sampling of the number of “lost” people God calls to enact change in the world. Is he calling you to assemble?
Amy C. Rice is a technical services and systems librarian at Whitworth University. She has been attending Nazarene churches for most of her life. As a result, she often approaches issues through a Wesleyan-Arminian perspective.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m a big fan of Josh Whedon!