No matter how many times movies try to have one central message, I always notice that there are several central messages at different sections throughout the movies. Movies are generally made up of a model called a Three-Act Structure. It divides the full story into three parts for the beginning, middle, and end; Some may also call it the Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution. Now, each act not only carries and builds the story but also conveys a particular message. I’ve found that if you only look at a portion of a movie, you will never really grasp the conclusive message of that movie, unless it’s just too easily predictable. But there are some people who are only really interested in the setup or the beginning act of movies. They just like to see the history behind how things progressed, how the characters grew and honed their skills, the relationships built, and even what mindset the actors were in and the lives that they portrayed before things got crazy and out of control. The good stuff, before things get all haywire, with tons of controversy. In the beginning, mostly allows people to relate to the characters and to dream, and to sometimes put themselves inside the movie, finding their actor/actress twin. In the Old Testament, The book of Genesis begins to tell us about the history of God’s creation. Genesis 1:1 says that ‘In the beginning God created…”. Act one, the setup, the beginning. And we can stay in that phase of creation that allows us to continuously dream, and have visions of creating, wanting, having, and seeing things come into fruition. For many of us, it is enough going through life engulfed in the newness of it. The joy, the beauty, not thinking of what we have to cover to see what we see and what we want to see. In the New Testament, which is a revealing of the Old Testament, it begins in telling us about the history of the genealogical history of Jesus Christ, how he was conceived, his birth, and him coming into his ministry. Again act one, the set up, the beginning. And we can stay in that phase of the glory surrounding the star in the east that led the 3 wise men to Jesus’ birthplace. We were drawn to God by music that touched us, the people that lifted us, the preaching that reached places we didn’t know it could, and experiences and moments that just drew us to God. There’s the awww experience, with the correlation of Jesus being the lamb and born in a stable. All of the joy and seasonal cheer that comes with Christmas, and gifts, and the love that is in the air. Then looking at all the wonderful miracles that Jesus did during his ministry; raising the dead, causing the blind to see, the lame to walk, multiplying resources significantly to feed the multitude. And we can stay in the mindset of what an amazing God we serve that has sent his son that we would have everything we need to continue a meaningful life on this earth.
But then, there is act 2; the Confrontation. Some people gravitate more to the action packed adventure scenes that make give us a jolt and set our hearts racing. The rising action where the stakes get higher. There’s more to loose, more to gain, and we’re just not sure which way things will turn out. We’re at the edge of our seats waiting for the next thing. Wam, Bam, it hits us without expectation. It rattles our emotions; shakes our stability. So much is said, so much is happening, the worst possible thing that we could imagine, is possible, it is going to happen, and it is done. We cringe, we look away, we even hold our breath, and sometimes tears begin to form. Where does this leave everything. For some, these experiences happen so often that they thrive on living life on the edge. They don’t care about the beginning or the end, just throw them into the fire and they’ll find out if they’ll sink or swim. They want the rush of climbing the cliff, walking at the edge of the mountain, running for their lives. They take life’s rollercoasters with their hands in air, while others stomach’s relocate to their mouths. Some are admitted into the hospital during this phase, just buckling under the pressure. Some are left seeking help, not knowing which way to turn and what decisions to make. Some even turn to drugs and drinking and many addictions as coping mechanisms, needless to say, not just crumbling under the weights, but also succumbing to the many labels that others slap onto them, that just comes with the territory.
In Joshua chapter 6, the Lord had torn down the walls of Jericho that encircled the city of possibly 7-9 acres, in great victory. However, even after clear instructions from the Lord to keep themselves from taking anything from the city for personal gain, unbeknownst to Joshua, one man caused their further victories to come to a crashing halt as they went up to the city of Ai to conquer it. Joshua 7:4-14 AMP says that [… about three thousand men from the sons of Israel went up there, but they fled [in retreat] from the men of Ai. The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of Israel’s men, and chased them from the gate as far as [the bluffs of] Shebarim and struck them down as they descended [the steep pass], so the hearts of the people melted [in despair and began to doubt God’s promise] and became like water disheartened). Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and [with great sorrow] they put dust on their heads. Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why have You brought this people across the Jordan at all, only to hand us over to the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to live beyond the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say now that [the army of] Israel has turned back [in retreat and fled] before their enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear about it, and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will You do for Your great name [to keep it from dishonor]?” So the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned; they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them [to keep]. They have even taken some of the things under the ban, and they have both stolen and denied [the theft]. Moreover, they have also put the stolen objects among their own things. That is why the soldiers of Israel could not stand [and defend themselves] before their enemies; they turned their backs [and ran] before them, because they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from among you. Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: “There are things under the ban among you, O Israel. You cannot stand [victorious] before your enemies until you remove the things under the ban from among you.”]
Act 2 the confrontation, are the moments that everyone knows we’ll have to face, because we make mistakes, we fall short. There are consequences. There are so many Act two’s throughout the bible. Practically in every book. In Luke 22 Jesus was seized and taken away leading up to his crucifixion. In vs. 54-62 AMP Peter had several confrontations during those intense moments where he new what was going to happen to Jesus and he instinctively responded trying to save himself and found himself in a deeply grieved and distressed place. The scripture says “And Peter was following at a [safe] distance. After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” But Peter denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him!” A little later someone else saw him and said, “You are one of them too.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, “This man was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly [deeply grieved and distressed].”
These are the moments that we tend to look away and not grasp the message there, because it is too painful, too gruesome, too sacrificial. We’ll have to give up too much, loose too much. It’s not a nice feeling when we’re being chastened, or reprimanded, or when we gotta fall to our knees and ask for forgiveness. When we gotta come face to face and admit our wrong or deal with the mental anguish of acknowledgement. The message! What message? We can’t see it when we are in a mode of defeat, and when everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. When we said we wouldn’t and we did; When our emotions, shame and embarassment has taken over; when selfishness, greed, anger, resentment, hurt and pain has come to the forefront of our hearts and minds. What message? We don’t want to be there long enough to grasp the intricacies of what led to the moment, because we have so many excuses and so many reasons for why we did what we did. We may have thought it was our only opportunity, our only chance, our only door, the only way and we couldn’t get around it. We may have thought we did what we had to do and given the same circumstances and the same options, if we had another chance to replace our steps, we might possibly end up doing the same thing over again. At this point, some of our reasoning skills and ability to understand, including lack of wisdom, may block us out of the next phase; Act 3.
Act 3, the Resolution. At this point some peoples nerves are still too wired to simmer down and relax into the resolved state of the final message (The reason that the beginning began, in the first place). At the end of the Three-Act Structure, the final section, Act Three, The Resolution, things come to a wrap-up. Lives are altered and changed. Lessons are learned and clarified. New paths are made, new ways discovered. Confrontations end up to be concerted; coordinated into their rightful place of importance, or united into a mending effort of new bonds, and refreshed re-fired relationships. A lot of people live for the ending of movies and stories. And sometimes getting to the ending takes a very long time, that many don’t have the patience for. But Romans 5:3 AMP says “hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance” There may even be some that want to skip straight to the end. But endings are not always what we expect them to be. In this cycle of life, one end is always a new beginning. But one thing is for sure, all the messages of the beginning, middle and end collectively create something whole.
Have you ever eaten a pizza? You have the Three-Act Structure of preparing a pizza (Purchase the supplies, knead the dough, and lay the toppings. That end becomes a new beginning, you then have another Three-Act Structure of Baking, cutting and eating. In both examples the easiest parts are act 1, purchasing and baking. The Act 2’s are purposeful confrontations of kneading and cutting. When we knead the dough, it goes through stretching, rolling, and even pressing. And Cutting, slices right through everything that connected the whole pie together, not even considering that some of the toppings that were layed precisely will also be severed. But Act 3 allows us to savor a moment of reflection of all the toppings that have been layed and layered, whether sparingly or generously, and the savoring of the taste of all of that, surely brings it to a final resolution, a close, one central message.
1 John 1:1-5 AMP says “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].” 2 timothy 3:14-17 NIV says “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”