Avatar and the Pilgrim-Passenger

Spectacles like the Pandora of Avatar remind me that this broken world is inadequate to enthrall my faculties to their full capacity. They point me to what Christ has promised us.

I cannot wait to watch Avatar: The Way of Water, the sequel to the original released in 2009.

At the end of the first movie, I remember wishing I could have stayed longer on magical Pandora. For me, the 162 minute screen time of the truly other-worldly first movie was not enough.

I vividly recall my thoughts as I walked out of the multiplex after watching the first movie. I thought to myself, “I hope they come out with a sequel soon.”

James Cameron has made me wait a long time. Thirteen years is a long while to wait for a sequel. 

In 2022, Avatar must have ranked among my top Google searches. I was constantly checking for updates on the release of the sequel.

In the past few days, eagerly waiting for the sequel to hit the screens, I have found myself wondering: “Why am I so keen to watch the sequel?”

What is it about Avatar that captured by imagination?

It is definitely not the story line.

A native population fighting a colonial power that seeks to exploit rich local resources is endearing, but hardly original, suspenseful, or captivating. Sure, I rooted for the Na’vi race, but that is not what got me hooked.

I realised that I wanted to go back to Pandora or whatever delectable new world Cameron has created in the sequel, for the sheer spectacle of it.

I realised that I am longing for the Avatar experience again because I long for my senses to be enthralled to their full capacities.

I want my mind to be carpet bombed by wonders of new worlds I had never imagined before.

New colours, new creatures, new flights, new dives, new harmony, new wonders, new thrills, and new worlds.

I long for these primarily because this broken world is not beautiful enough to stretch my imagination and enrapture my senses to their fullest capacity.

It sure feels like I have been given faculties that this broken world cannot fill. Even an Avatar-like spectacle just about teases the surface of what I long to behold.

I cannot but think of the famous, perhaps over-quoted, C.S.Lewis saying: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Spectacles like Avatar help me turn my gaze to the second Advent.

Christ shall come again. My saviour will usher me into a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no more sickness, shame, or death.

My Bridegroom-Messiah will sweep me away from this brokenness and into a world of unimagined wonders. There, Christ himself will be the wonder of wonders, fulfilling every desire, and filling every faculty with the infinite ecstasy of his presence.

At a redemptive, philosophical level, my soul needs spectacles like Avatar to remember that this world is not my home. I am but a pilgrim passing through.

In the absence of such enthralling reminders, I am afraid I will settle down in a broken world. Here, I am afraid I will seek permanence in this fallen world, where I am called to live only in a tent.

I am afraid I will settle down in the city of men even though I am called to seek the true and better city whose builder and architect is God himself (Heb 11:10).

Christ himself will be the wonder of wonders, fulfilling every desire and filling every faculty with the infinite ecstasy of his presence. 

I am a pilgrim. I need higher-than-earth spectacles like Avatar to help me remember that.

But in one sense, being a pilgrim is also enormously burdensome. 

This means I must do the walking, carry my baggage, and face the storms on the way. I must make it to the destination.

But grace lovingly whispers otherwise. The gospel reminds me that I am not only a pilgrim, but that I am also a passenger.

Christ carries me.

I am being carried in the arms of my beloved saviour, through life, and through this broken world, and into the heavenly and eternal city.

A pilgrim-passenger. That is who I am. That is who we are.

Sometimes it takes a decent story and a spectacular computer graphics created fantasy world to remind us of the glorious and eternal reality to come.