I think about The Truman Show a lot.
I bet everyone does. I bet that although it’s not The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, The Truman Show is one of the most thought-about movies of our generation.
After all, it explores some of our most common internal dialogue: “What is the meaning of my life?” “Is there more to this life than I perceive?” “Is someone orchestrating my life for me?”
If you’ve seen The Truman Show you probably remember Truman’s sad situation: unbeknownst to him, he is the star of a reality TV show. From one episode to the next, Truman essentially lives a mundane, repetitive existence for the entertainment of millions of viewers. We’re all sad for him because the essence of his true humanity has been stolen from him. As the outsiders-looking-in, we know that although his grass is green and his wife smiles at him, Truman’s life is meaningless.
And yet, those millions of people tune into the show to escape the monotony and meaninglessness of their own lives. We could join the ranks: when we quietly consider our own existence, don’t we all stumble upon the fear that maybe it’s all just a little bit futile?
I thought about The Truman Show this morning at church.
Pastor Dan was preaching through the first 11 verses of Ecclesiastes – the book of the Bible that faces the universal ache that “life is meaningless”. Generations keep turning over and over, nature keeps repeating itself, and everything ends up being forgotten anyway.
We sat in those wooden pews and thought about life’s futility for a good 30 minutes as we dug into the text. We nodded, leaned forward, and jotted down a few notes. Occasionally, I’d wrap my right arm around Vivienne’s thin shoulders and give her a squeeze. I’d tuck my left hand into Ryan’s elbow and hold him tightly. There wasn’t one person in that room who couldn’t feel the writer’s heavy frustration with reality: life is a soap bubble. Pop! And it vanishes.
But then, Pastor Dan said something that changed everything.
What he said helped me breathe again.
It made me feel a thrill that my daughter and husband were sitting by my side.
And it reminded me of that wonderful scene in The Truman Show when Truman sails his boat to the horizon and pushes through the fake sky into a broader reality – presumably into a life with promise, meaning, and truth. (Ah! The hope of escape from meaninglessness? Amazing!)
What Pastor Dan said that changed everything was this:
When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he broke through the meaningless, cyclical, forgotten days of life under the sun.
Our story is no longer found in the book of Ecclesiastes, for we are people who “Look beyond the sun!”
Christ has pushed open the exit.
(I bet you’ll love this soul-thrilling sermon. A recording will be at Oakwood Presbyterian Church’s sermon website.)