When I was a kid, I read Mad Magazine. I think my older brothers and sisters got it, and eventually it filtered its way down to me. At the time, I feel like the magazine often featured movie spoofs which were told in comic book style.
I was quite young, so I didn’t go to a lot of PG or R-rated movies – – plus at that time in the Assemblies of God where we attended, it was a transition: it used to be that movies in general were a sin to attend in the cinema. I don’t know why. That was changing, as I say, when I was young, but I still didn’t go to a lot of movies. A lot of blockbusters at the time, I knew the plots only from the Mad Magazine.
This includes the Poseidon Adventure, which happened to be a particularly funny spoof that I read many times and from it figured out the plot of the movie. The cruise ship had completely overturned and was slowly sinking whilst upside down. One group of intrepid tourists had figured out that their only hope of escape was to traverse the inverse ship and climb out above the waterline at the bottom.
One dialogue balloon I remember very well from the spoof, was the semi-hysterical leader of this particular group as he faced opposition to his mad plan to head to the bottom of the ship, and he said: “We’ve got to go up, up to the bottom. There’s only death down here at the top.”
It struck me funny at the time because it is so opposite of what you would normally think, and because in the magazine he was drawn as such a madman for saying it. But today I totally understand it, and I see how it – – like almost everything I encounter these days – – is a reflection of the topsy-turvy kingdom of God.
Jesus is our perfect example of the counter intuitive nature of the Gospel. To triumph, he surrendered. To guarantee eternal life for us, he died. His teachings again and again tell us: if you want to be the leader, be a servant. If you want to save your life, give it up. If you want to be at the top, go down to the bottom.
His whole life on earth seemed to be a preparation for his death. And it was the spectacle of crucifixion that became the centerpiece of life and joy.
I think many Christians haven’t yet grasped how this works. They’re still trying to stack the deck in their favor by doing good works and expecting reward… And then they’re disappointed when the reward doesn’t come.
They don’t understand why bad things happen to good people. But how hard is it to understand, when the worst thing happened to the best Person? If you look at it from a human and worldly perspective, it doesn’t make sense. If you look at the universe as a great Poseidon Adventure, it becomes more clear.
The last, the lost, the little, the least and the dead … They’re the ones who inherit the kingdom. They get it. There’s only death down here at the top.