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Interstellar: Who can you trust? (Spoiler alert)

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Matthew McConaughey as the pilot of the Endurance, a spacecraft tasked with exploring new worlds for humaity to colonize, in a scene from Paramount Pictures new movie Intersellar (Credit: Paramount Pictures)

{source}<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #C0C0C0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/0vxOhd4qlnA?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}(Spoiler alert) Matthew McConaughey‘s latest movie is one of the longest I’ve seen in a while, at two hours 49 minutes.  It has to be that long, I suppose, to make room for all the stars that populate its cast.  Along with McConaughey, who is the current Academy Award winner for Best Actor, the film includes Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace, and William Devane.

The movie is visually stunning and emotionally compelling.  Its beginning finds mankind facing a dying future.  War and catastrophe have limited the planet’s ability to support life, so that corn is now our only viable agricultural product.  McConaughey plays a widower who farms but was preparing to become an astronaut before NASA was (supposedly) ended.  It turns out the space agency has continued in secret, and has found a way to travel to planets that might support human life.

McConaughey is enlisted to pilot an expedition, and must leave his children behind.  His ship will travel through a wormhole created by extra-dimensional beings who are seeking to help humanity survive.  Without giving away more of the movie, I need to tell you this plot twist: it turns out the extra-dimensional beings are a future form of humanity.  McConaughey is able to return through time to his daughter, giving her critical information she needs to create a ship which will evacuate Earth’s population.

In other words, we save ourselves.  Numerous people die along the way, but we survive in the collective.  As I left the theater, I couldn’t remember a movie that captured the ethos of our culture more effectively: humanity is getting better and holds the key to our future.  We don’t need anyone but ourselves.  Of course we will all die individually, but that’s not the point—we will save our race.  At no point is God relevant or even considered.

Let’s say for argument’s sake that the movie is right: scientists and astronauts eventually find a way to transport humanity to other worlds where our survival is more assured.  To what end?  Whether you and I die on this planet or another will be completely inconsequential to us one second afterwards.  The film repeatedly evokes Dylan Thomas’s edict, “Do not go gentle into that good night . . .”  But into that night, good or not, we must all go.

C. S. Lewis was right: “You have never talked to a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.  But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.”  Every person you meet today will spend eternity in one of two places—either with God in paradise, or without him in hell.  Like McConaughey’s astronaut returning to his daughter, you and I have the critical information people need to escape death on Earth for life beyond.

Two lessons follow.

One: sharing Christ is our greatest privilege and most significant responsibility.  If you held in your hands the cure for all cancer, or heart disease, or AIDS—if you had the solution that would end war the world over—you would have information far less significant than the message contained in John 3:16.  Giving others the gospel is the greatest gift there is.

Two: knowing Christ means that you have eternal life, right now.  You will not receive eternal life when you die or Jesus returns—you received it the moment you made Christ your Lord.  C. S. Lewis notes, “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.”

King David, despite his military prowess, was wise enough to declare: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).  We might rephrase his statement: “Some trust in spaceships and some in scientists, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Do you?