Redemptive Thoughts on “The Big Short”

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I love seeing spiritual parallels in unlikely places. You can do this in many ways but one place I see them is in movies. Let me say now, I am no movie critic. I often have little to say as to why I enjoy a movie outside of entertainment value. It isn’t uncommon for me to like a movie lots of professional critics hate. Nevertheless, I’ve wanted to write about spiritual truths in movies I’ve watched and I thought this might be a good place to start.

A week ago I watched The Big Short on Netflix. It wasn’t the most wholesome movie I’ve ever seen. Honestly I was tired, wanted to be entertained, and I knew it was produced well with good actors. I would recommend it on quality alone but not if you want a movie to point you to Christ.

And yet as I watched it and reflected on it the next day as I had hours of yard work to do, there were things that came to mind that made it redeemable. Here are a few things I noticed (warning, spoilers included):

THE WEAK AND THE STRONG

In the movie, Michael Burry (played by Christian Bale) is a socially awkward finance guru with a glass eye. He doesn’t know humor or sarcasm. But he ironically is good with numbers and in 2005 he sees what nobody else can… the housing market bubble. He riskily invests his clients money by betting against the housing market, upsetting many and getting sued. But he turns out to be right and earns his clients 489% over that time.

I couldn’t help but think of 1 Corinthians 1:27 that says, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” This weirdo Michael Burry sees what ego driven, status loving, money obsessed people can’t. Anyone in that industry that felt superior or important was humbled by the economic crash of 2008. And this is how God works too. Time and time again he uses nobody’s and misfits to advance his cause, primarily seen in Christ. Jesus the King came into the world as a helpless baby born in a manger, growing into a normal carpenter.

OUR SINFUL DEPRAVITY

There are multiple times in the movie you want to punch someone with how confident and ill-assured they are of the housing market. Part of this is due to hind sight but also due to their ego. I’d like to say here that I know this is a movie. It isn’t 100% historical fact. There was more to what happened than the movie shows. But the part of financial stewards and investors that sold American people terrible loans disguised as high quality loans isn’t made up. The one thing in all of this that stuck out to me was GREED and SELF-INTEREST. Everyone mainly cares about themselves. And the system continued the way it did because it kept money in pockets.

Romans 1-3 doesn’t sugar coat human depravity but paints a dark picture of our desperate need for Christ. In a weird way, watching this movie made me think of that depravity. It reminded me that the wages of sin is death. It reminded me that no one is righteous. That we have exchanged the glory of God for trinkets. It can be easy to fool ourselves into thinking we are better than what the Bible says we are. But take people’s greed so clearly seen from this event and juxtapose that with the self-serving, self-sacrificing, others mindset of Christ and it is a night and day difference. Our best attempts at “good enough” pale in comparison to the perfect righteousness of Christ.

FORSEEN CATASTROPHE

There are a few other people or groups in the movie that see the economic housing market collapse coming and act accordingly. As it actually happens and they see the reality and cause of what they are betting FOR, it is a sad and disheartening. Millions of jobs are lost. Millions of homes are foreclosed. Thousands of retirement accounts decimated.

As Christians, we see a far worse catastrophe coming. Our eyes have been opened to the grace, love, and glory of God as 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 says. People are going about everyday life in the dark, unaware of the fact that they live under the common grace of God each moment and could face his just judgement any second. And people need to know. They need to know there is a holy and loving God. That apart from Jesus we are alienated from him with no hope of eternal life. What are we going to do about it?

These are a few thoughts that took me away from casual entertainment into a heartfelt worship for God. Thoughts?

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