Last night, I popped in The Exorcist, which is my favorite horror movie of all time. When it was released back in the ’70’s, it caused people to faint and to run from the theater. There are reports that the director ordered an actual exorcism on the set because of the strange things that were happening. Some may look back now and think the movie to be a little hokey. I don’t.
Some of you reading this may ask why I like this movie. After all, it’s rated R, it’s got some pretty strong language, and there are some pretty profane things in it–should a Christian even watch it? I think it’s totally an issue of conscience. If your conscience won’t let you watch a rated R flick, then don’t watch this one. If your conscience won’t let you watch anything that demeans God, then by all means don’t watch this one.
So why do I watch it? It has nothing to do with the usual movie stuff–the soundtrack (which is pretty good), or the special effects, or the acting, or anything like that. It’s a pretty simple, yet intense reason.
It reminds me of the battle we are in.
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12 that, “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Here in America, I think we’ve really made the gospel easy. We’ve reduced the gospel to a formula for a better marriage, for financial security, and a lot of other surface things. Jesus’ purpose for dying wasn’t so that we could lower our stress level (if we follow him, our stress level is sure to increase). He did not die so that we could be financially secure (if we follow him, we’ll find ourselves sacrificing for others). He died so that we might be free from the sentence and sickness of sin. He died to crush Satan’s head.
Although Satan is a defeated enemy, he’s still fighting. He uses different things in different places to deceive people. In our culture, materialism and consumerism have been used effectively by Satan to render many Christians almost useless in this battle we are in. In other cultures, he still uses things like possession to paralyze people (and I’ve heard of way too many cases of possession in our culture from reputable people to discount it). The Exorcist reminds me in the rawest of ways of what we face–a defeated enemy who still seeks to deceive, destroy, and kill.
The Exorcist reminds me that I must be ready for battle every single day. My enemy isn’t a politician who holds a different philosophy of government. My enemy isn’t someone from another religion. My enemy isn’t those who do not believe. My enemy is the father of lies, the one who Max Von Sydow’s character, Father Merin, says is a liar, a deceiver, and reminds us that we are animal and ugly. My enemy is Satan. My Savior has defeated the enemy. Even though he’s defeated, I’m still called to battle.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you are, too.