I don't know how many times I've seen the film Armageddon or, until last night, the most recent time I saw it, but I really enjoyed watching it again. For those who don't know it, the basic premise is this: an asteroid is on a collision course with earth. The only way to stop it and the catastrophic destruction it would cause on impact is to land a deep core drilling team on the asteroid and plant a nuclear bomb in its core.
Armageddon was the highest grossing film in 1998. Aside from the impressive ensemble cast led by Bruce Willis, it has some funny lines, suspenseful scenes and mind blowing visuals courtesy of the awesome special effects, but I found one thing particularly interesting.
Willis plays Harry, the best deep core driller in the world. His crew includes Chick (played by Will Patton). On the eve of their trip into space for the dangerous mission, Chick visits a home where he sees his son playing outside. His estranged wife appears and tells Chick he's breaching court orders by being there. The viewers learn that the boy does not know his father, whom Chick's wife calls a salesman before sending the boy inside. We are not told anymore of Chick's back story other than he regrets the current situation. Before he goes, he apologizes and leaves a gift for his son: a model space shuttle.
Harry's crew fly into space amid much media hype surrounding the mission to save the planet. The men are lauded as heroes. Chick's son sees his father, who he thinks is a salesman, on TV. Now suddenly willing to tell her son the truth, Chick's ex reveals the true identity of the salesman. Only four of the crew return from the mission. Chick is greeted on his arrival back on terra firma by his wife and son and all is apparently forgiven...because he's a hero now.
This is typical of the simplistic way films and television shows deal with complex issues. It is also symptomatic of our hero worshiping nature. Most of the true heroes in the world don't get public acknowledgement or material rewards. We have a tendency to place public figures on pedestals and idolize them whilst ignoring or being dismissive of everyday heroes. Beyond these negatives, Armageddon also presents some echoes of profound truth.
Think of the broken relationships you've experienced or are experiencing. Could one monumental act of bravery or self sacrifice, or some other huge achievement fix it? I don't know why Chick and his wife split up in such acrimonious circumstances, or why his son didn't know him. I suspect it may have had something to do with Chick's gambling habit and the fact that his job kept him away from home frequently. It just struck me as implausible that one act, albeit such a massive one, could so easily fix things.
And then I remembered Jesus Christ, and his one incredible act of self sacrifice. His death and resurrection fixed things between us and God. The metaphoric end of the world for those who have hope in the God of hope is never actually the end of the world. One man died to save the world and repair, restore and renew all our relationships.
What would it take for you to believe this?