Non-Stop – Movie Discussion
U.S. air marshal, Bill Marks, was set up. Terrorists hi-jacked his plane, demanded a ransom, and are killing off a person on the flight every twenty minutes—and they’ve made it all look as if Bill Marks is to blame—Bill who is innocent and trying to solve the mystery. It’s a fun action, mystery, thriller, and it has two simple connection points to life and the Christian faith.
The first one is fairly obvious. We find out that the reason the terrorists were doing this, the reason they were framing the air marshal was because they were angry that the system failed. The ring leader’s brother was killed by a terrorist attack that “security” failed to detect. He was out to prove that airport security isn’t secure at all, so that we would know just how false our sense of security really is. He said, “Everyone of these people boarded the plane believing that you would protect them. Everyone, it’s going to be OK, because an air marshal is on board. … Security is this country’s biggest lie.”
Now, he certainly wasn’t going about it the right way, but there is a lot of truth in his message. Anything we put our hope in, anything that we trust to protect us outside of the Lord, those things will fail. Our money and investments and financial “security”, our job, our leaders, our relationships, our strength, our nation, our politics, our education… nothing can truly keep us safe. Security is Satan’s biggest lie. Economies collapse. Leaders fail. People get sick, no matter how strong and healthy they have been. Natural disasters show neither mercy nor deference when they strike. This is why Jesus encourages us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I know he’s talking about treasure, but that’s often what we put our hope in; it’s often what makes us feel secure. Our only security is Jesus.
The Bible promises that, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” That’s not to give you another false sense of security—it’s not to say that nothing hard will ever happen to you in this life because of Jesus, but it is to say that even when things happen, you will be ultimately safe. Paul says it this way, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He isn’t convinced that nothing will happen to him, but he is convinced that nothing that happens can separate him from the love of God. That is our security. Jesus said so himself when he told his disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Questions to discuss:
- How did you feel about the terrorists reasoning in the movie? Was he right, that security is basically a hoax? What are better ways he could have made his point?
- What are the things you put your hope in? What are the things that make you feel safe and secure?
- Have you ever found that your security was in something that failed you?
- What does it mean to put your hope in Jesus?
- Do you feel like Jesus/God has ever failed you? Explain.
- What did Jesus really promise us? If it wasn’t that we wouldn’t ever struggle, then what is it?
- How can you help other people to put their trust in Jesus, instead of having a false sense of security in things of this earth?
The other thing that really caught my attention as we watched the movie was the way it was filmed, especially at the beginning. My friend and I both commented on it. The way it’s filmed makes everyone look suspicious. From the previews, you know that something is going to go wrong on this flight. You know that you are going to be trying to figure out who the bad guys are. The filmmakers capitalize on that and before anything bad even happens, they make you wary. Every new person in the frame is suddenly suspicious. You don’t trust anyone. Everything people do makes them seem guilty. This is in part because of the way it’s filmed, and in part because you are already primed (by the previews) to be suspicious.
Here’s why I think this is noteworthy—because it says something about our perspective. The way we see the world is colored—it’s colored by our own perceptions, but also by events and by the thoughts and ideas other people put into our minds. We look at things through a pair of lenses that shade what we see, and those lenses can easily change, based on the stimuli around us. So, we go to a movie where we are told that someone is going to be guilty, and we suddenly think everyone is suspicious. Part of that is what we bring to it, part of it was the circumstances and events of the movie, but a large part was also the artfulness of the creators. They planted seeds in our minds in the previews, and in the filming they continued to plant seeds of doubt and suspicion and guilt…through the music, through the framing, the way a scene lingered, the kinds of actions they chose to show us—the filmmakers artfully manipulated our perception of the people and events in the movie. It’s part of why we love the whole experience of going to the movies in the first place.
The problem is we don’t even realize how much this happens in our real lives. We think that we see things clearly and without bias, but we are wrong. Our perception is colored in real life much the same way it is in the movies. Past experience and events and circumstances can greatly color our perspective. Someone who suffered abuse as a child will be much quicker to feel that someone is threatening their safety than someone who has never known anything but safety and love, for example. We are also shaped by the perspective of others around us. If everyone around you is negative and expecting bad things to happen and thinks that other people are all selfish and can’t be trusted, you are going to be much quicker to take a negative view yourself. But if those people around you are expecting great things and believe the best about those around them and extend grace… you’ll be much more optimistic and quicker to believe the best yourself.
Perspective is a cyclical kind of thing. What you think you are going to find, you most often do, and when you find it, it confirms your suspicions. So if you expect the worst in someone, you often find something that confirms your expectations. Now confirmed, you are even more predisposed to expect the worst, and so it goes. But the good news is it works just the same in the positive. You expect the best, look for it, find something that confirms it and then are even more predisposed to expect the best.
This is why it’s so important to guard your minds. Satan, who comes to “steal, kill and destroy” is doing all he can to rob you of peace, joy and love. He wants you to be negative and to expect the worst. He does not want you to see the love and the grace of God being extended to you. Jesus does, however. He would have us see the loving-kindness of the Father in all things. He would have us rejoice, even in our trials, because we know that God can work all things to good. The Bible says we can cast our cares on him, because He cares for us. The more we choose to believe His Word, the more we will be primed to look for evidences of it. The more we are looking for His love, the more we will see His love.
This is why it’s so important to read the Word, and why it’s a good idea to read it in the mornings. It’s like a good preview—it prepares you for what you can expect from the real thing (or the day, in this case). It primes you to have the right expectations, to be looking for the right things—it helps you to have the right “lenses” for what’s to come. We read His Word and hear about how He loves us, and about His sovereignty and His master plan, and then when the day comes and something “bad” happens, we are able to see it in the context of God’s love, power and plan, and rather than being defeated by it, we have peace. Similarly, when something good happens, we are primed to recognize it and realize it as evidence of His love. This is also why the people and the influences in our lives matter so much—they influence our thinking, both for good and for bad. The more we surround ourselves with people who expect to find God’s goodness, they more we will be encouraged to do the same.
I think Paul sums all of this up rather perfectly in his letter to the Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Questions to Discuss:
- Did you notice that the filming, especially in the beginning, made everyone look suspicious?
- How does that parallel life?
- What is your natural inclination? Do you tend to be more optimistic or pessimistic? Suspicious or gracious?
- I Corinthians 13 indicates that love hopes for and expects the best, (not the worst)—how well do you do at expecting the best in others? Why is this easy or hard for you?
- Have you noticed that your “lenses” for looking at life sometimes change? What are the influencing factors that affect the “lenses” with which you view life?
- If it’s true and you can, in fact, change your perspective to be more optimistic and hopeful, then how important is it, do you think, that you work to change it?