It's almost the same storyline in every movie. Main character goes on Christmas adventure, leaving behind either the "important" significant other or the painful break up with said significant other. Main character falls in love with humble, not "important" local handy person. There's some sort of struggle; it's not always related to the plot. True love thwarts the significant other and/or bad guy who winks too often. Main character and humble, local handy person declare their love and get married—in the very next scene. (Does it bother anyone else that it's only been two, maybe three, occasionally seven days in this story?) It's happily ever after in the cheesiest of ways. No painful moment left unfixed, no heartbreak left unhealed, no person left unwanted. No bad guy left winking.
It’s the December Netflix Christmas queue.
For the next four weeks, the top trending movies on Netflix will be a collection of the cheesiest Christmas movies in existence. We'll roll our eyes and smirk through showings, but before too long, we'll find ourselves back on the couch with popcorn. We can't quit the cheesy Netflix movies, bad hair and ridiculous scripts notwithstanding. What's wrong with us? Why do we keep coming back for more?
We're the Heartbroken Ones
We see ourselves in every movie. We're a heartbroken people living in a heartbreaking world. We snort with cynicism as the main character dramatically wishes for a whirlwind romance in which she is fully known and loved, but don't we all want that? Made for fellowship with God, we've been unsatisfied by this world since Adam and Eve left Eden. We chase "important" careers, lovers, possessions, and achievements to fill the gaping hole. We love things we ought to hate. And every time we make a gift a god, we're left heartbroken, aching for more.
Advent is a season of aching for the promised One to come. God's chosen people anticipated their Messiah with eager, hopeful hearts. They waited, expecting a king who would end their troubles and bind up their broken hearts. During this season of corporate longing, we do the same. By God's grace, we look back to the cross for assurance of the future glory to come. But for now, we wait. We push in to the days set before us—full of pain, lack, and brokenness—with eyes fixed on Jesus, the only one to fully know and love us. We take heart in the future promises set before us even though heartbreak surrounds us.
Heartbroken hopefuls fill these movies, but we fill this earth.
He's the Humble Prince
Enter the kind, humble rescuer—in flannel or a puffer vest and definitely with a beard. You can't mistake the archetype of the hero in a Netflix movie; he's the misunderstood man with the unsurprisingly big heart. But no matter how well he fits into an L.L. Bean catalogue, he's a mere shadow of the humble Prince we long for.
God's people expected an “important” king with power and might to deliver them from their waiting, but God sent a baby. The fullness of glory and love came as a wobbly-headed infant—how terribly unimportant. Jesus needed to nurse, sleep, and learn to control his head. This is true humility: the King of kings left his heavenly throne to be made like us with all human limitations. He humbled himself to the point of death on a cross to rescue his heartbroken bride. The Son of God bore the full weight of our sin so he could present us as his blameless, spotless Church before God. He’s the only hero able to satisfy our broken hearts.
Advent reminds us we desperately need Jesus. But we don't need him to be in flannel.
This is Our Storyline
We keep curling up with these cheesy Netflix movies, because we're drawn to the glimpses of our own storyline. The thing you hate but actually love about these movies is the ending: it's literally perfect. Unlike ordinary movies, the Netflix Christmas queue is one happy ending after another; the battle is over, there are no more tears, and they're in forever love.
But this is actually our story's ending. Christ came and won us from evil for himself, leaving us with a promise to return. So during Advent, we long for him to come back to take us with him to our glorious ending. When he does, the battle will be over. Sin will no longer crouch at our doors, brokenness will no longer ransack our lives, and our hearts will no longer betray our Beloved. God will destroy the evil one, and he will never steal, kill, or destroy again. Love will heal every painful moment, bind every broken heart, and welcome all who love him into glory. There will be a wedding feast like never before for a bride made lovely by her humble rescuer. There will be no more battle, no more tears, and no more pain.
There will only be the glory of God bringing truest delight to those he loves and who love him back. It's the most beautiful, happy ending imaginable. And it's ours. But unlike December 26th when the Netflix queue returns to normal, this perfect ending will be ours for eternity.