I saw Iron Man 3 recently. Actually, those who have seen the film know that I saw Iron Man numbers 3 through 30 or so (Tony Stark makes and controls a large number of his superhero suits in this one). Not surprisingly, it took 17 companies to do the visual effects; their credits seemed to scroll for 10 minutes.
I did learn something from the superhero flick: as the movie states, “The fortune cookie, traditionally noted to be a Chinese confectionary, is in fact an American creation.” I looked it up: The fortune cookie was invented in California in the early 1900s and is apparently based on Japanese grilled rice wafers. Now you know.
Other lines are more substantive. For instance, “Mandarin,” the first bad guy, tells us, “Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher.” He’s right—names are subjective. We consider the 9/11 bombers to be “terrorists,” while al Qaeda calls them “martyrs.” Colonial American soldiers were “freedom fighters” to us but “rebels” to England.
Transparently, the hero says, “I’m Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. So why can’t I sleep?” He also admits, “I hope I can protect the one thing I can’t live without.” He’s right: Prosperity and possessions neither ensure nor protect what matters most. One of the Rockefellers, when asked how much money is enough, smiled and replied, “Just a little more.”
Here’s my favorite line in the movie: “A wise man once said: We make our own demons.” While demons clearly exist outside our making, the plot bears out his wisdom. In 1999, Tony Stark turned down and humiliated two scientists who wanted him to join their efforts in “extremis” regenerative treatments. Thirteen years later, they try to steal his inventions and want him to help them turn their technology into an invincible army.
If you imagine the way such a plot would end in today’s Hollywood, you’ll probably get it right. But the “wise man” was right: We are all victims of our past, to one degree or another. Tony ends up witnessing the demise of his “demons,” but in real life, things aren’t so simple.
What about the past troubles you today? Know that guilt is not of God. When we confess our sins to our Father, “he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Once he has forgiven us, he “remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25). Then, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
In fact, he will “hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). Corrie ten Boom commented: When God buries our sins in the ocean, he posts a sign that says, “No Fishing.”
The next time guilt from your past afflicts you, do three things. First, be sure you’ve confessed that sin specifically to God. Second, claim the fact that he has forgiven you, forgotten your sin, and separated it from you forever. Third, if the guilt returns, say to it, “That sin is forgiven, and grace is greater than guilt.” You may need to make this statement to your guilt 100 times today and 90 times tomorrow, but eventually the guilt will leave and grace will win.
We might make our own demons, but our Father’s love can defeat them all. This is the promise of God.