It’s an odd thing to do a review of a movie poster (!) and this is not really a review – just a reaction. As I was doing the school run this morning I watched a bus pull out of the school with a huge poster on the side. It was an advert for Ridley Scott’s latest movie, The Counsellor, which I have not seen. So I looked up the plot. It’s apparently about a counsellor who makes a bad choice. He decides to get involved with a drug deal in order to set himself up for life, financially speaking. However, it goes badly wrong and the repercussions are plenty.
My reason for writing this was not so much the title, or the cast, or even the plot of the movie. Initially it was simply this – the strapline. The line of text beneath the title, which reads like this.
Sin is a choice.
Writing as I do about religion and faith a lot I try to avoid the word sin because I think it is a misunderstood word, with a lot of excess baggage. In my humble opinion. However, here is a film advertising itself on the very thing that Paul talks about rather a lot in his Biblical letter (or email) to the Romans, chapter 7. (It was a long email.)
Paul said that he was at war with himself because he often did things he didn’t want to do and didn’t do the things he felt he should do. He wrote about sin battling within him. Temptation pulling him to make unhelpful, damaging and uncaring decisions. Decisions with bad repercussions.
I found this quote from the film in a review of The Counsellor in Empire magazine: ‘You are at a cross in the road and here you think to choose. But here there is no choosing. There is only accepting. The choosing was done long ago.’ A quote which makes me think about the damaging decision made by the first Adam, long ago, and the healthy decision made by Jesus the second Adam. One creating the problem, the other providing a way forward. At, you might say, a cross in the road.
I’m cautious to talk about sin because it can sometime appear that we Christians are obsessed with it. It seems to occur rather a lot in some of our songs and sermons and services. Jesus however, was not obsessed with sin, he was obsessed with life. One quick example. When he and his disciples meet a blind man his friends are desperate for the gossip – whose sin caused the man to be blind. They could only see the man’s predicament as a punishment for some dark family sin. Jesus refuses to respond to that. Instead he heals the man and brings him a whole new life. (Check this out in John chapter 9 vv 1-7.) This was actually a double life-affirming whammy, because Siloam had been the scene of a terrible accident, a tower had fallen and crushed 18 people. Jesus performed a miracle there, and though he could not correct the damage done by the accident, he at least gave the people there a new story to tell. One of hope and healing.
To return to the poster and its strapline, you can read about Paul and his struggles in Romans chapters 7 and 8. I find it profoundly heartening that he’s so honest. I’ve not yet seen The Counsellor, and I may not, but I can identify with the strapline. Surely we all can. Life is full of tough choices. Always has been. But Jesus is still present, obsessed with bringing life and hope. At that cross in the road.