Watching the latest Avatar movie – The Way of Water – it seems to me that in this age where many see no great overarching truth in life, we still long for a bigger story, an epic tale to help us make sense of things. Whether it’s James Cameron’s Avatar, Amazon’s Tolkien spin off The Rings of Power, George Lucas’s ongoing Star Wars adventures or Marvel’s superhero-laden Cinematic Universe, we want to escape into a higher reality. We want a bigger story. It’s built into our DNA I reckon, a sign of the longing for something more. And I believe it signals the gap within us, expressing our hunger and thirst for connection with our Creator God.
One of the phrases used in Avatar is ‘I see you’, a saying which means ‘I care about you, I understand you, I respect you’. A phrase which makes me think of Jesus. He was brilliant at seeing people. In Luke chapter 19, when an unpopular tax collector clambered up a tree, looking foolish and vulnerable, the rest of the town just saw someone they despised making an idiot of himself. But Jesus saw more, he saw someone longing for change, longing for something better, willing to risk everything to see what Jesus was all about. And when Jesus clearly saw this he invited himself for a slap up feast, (Jesus loved using food in his quest to change lives) a meal which changed not only Zacchaeus’s life, but the life of everyone in Jericho. Their tax collector would now be operating on a level footing, and starting by paying the locals back money that they desperately needed.
In Revelation chapter 3 verse 20 Jesus offers to come in to our lives and share food with us, a sign of understanding and respect, as he offers us a fresh way forward. And in Genesis 16, when Hagar runs into the desert and has a conversation with an angel, she gives God a name – El roi – The God who sees me. She felt understood and cared for by the God who knows each one of us and cares and understands.