At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths we find in Hollywood movies. So break out the popcorn. It’s going to be an adventure!
Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.
The Martian is a science fiction film based on Andy Weir's novel by the same name. On November 25, 2035, the crew of the Ares III manned mission to Mars encounters an unexpected strong dust storm that threatens to topple their Mars Ascent Vehicle or MAV, forcing them to hastily leave the planet. During the evacuation, astronaut Mark Watney, played by Damon, is struck by debris and lost in the storm. The last signal from his spacesuit indicates no signs of life. With Watney believed dead, and the storm worsening by the second, mission commander Melissa Lewis orders the remaining crew to return to their orbiting vessel Hermes without him.
What is the scariest natural phenomenon you have ever experienced (earthquake, hurricane, tornado, storm at sea, etc.)?
Have a volunteer read Psalm 23.
The Martian is a story about just how far people will go to save someone who they’ve lost. It reminds us of the incredible lengths that God goes to save us: coming as Jesus to show us the way back to God, dying on a cross to pay for the things we have done wrong, and pursuing us in so many big and small ways throughout our lives.
Verse six of Psalm 23 says, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…” (NIV), but the word we often translate follow had a much stronger sense in the original Hebrew. It meant to hunt or to pursue. It’s as if David was saying of God, “Surely your goodness and love will hunt me down all of the days of my life.”
How does the idea that God pursues us, that His goodness and love hunt us down, impact the way you view God?
Have a volunteer read 1 Corinthians 9:22.
If we’re going to love God, we have to love the people He loves. That’s why as long as there is one lost person in the world – our goal at Eastside is going to be to grow – because every person matters to God. That’s why we continue to look for creative ways to explain the Gospel of Jesus. That’s why we pray for people who are spiritually lost. It’s why invite them to attend, do multiple services, and start more campuses. We never stop looking for one lost person because God never stops looking for us.
So what do we do? We continually put ourselves in the shoes of those who are far from God – trying to understand what they are going through – so we can do everything we can to rescue them. So how do we do that? By trying to understand how people far from God really feel. Many are like Mark Watney – life dealt them a tough blow and now they find themselves in situations they don’t want to be in – trapped with seemingly no way out – just trying to survive.
When is one time you’ve felt trapped by your circumstances? How did you deal with that? Or, perhaps, how are you dealing with that?
Those of us who have followed Jesus for a long time often find it hard to understand what it is like to not follow Jesus. What is one practical thing you can do to better understand and empathize with people who are far from God?
Have a volunteer read Romans 10:14.
In The Martian, when everyone hears that Mark is dead, they gasp. But in the Church today that’s not how everyone responds. Sometimes we become immune and unmoved by the fact that there are lost people around us are dying without the hope of Jesus and the promise of heaven.
That’s why we should never worry if the church is getting too big. Hell is getting too big, and too many people who’ve never understood the love and grace of God are going there. In Jesus’ day many even criticized Him for going after those who were lost and dying – those who were far from God.
The biography of Jesus written by Luke the physician says the crowd muttered because Jesus was focusing His whole life on lost and dying people. Jesus would say things like, “It’s not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.” In another chapter Jesus said that He came for one reason: to seek and to save the lost.
And now we, His people and His Church, have that same mission. The Church exists to continue the mission and ministry of Jesus. This is our #1 priority.
So how do we help people see how good God really is? Well of course we pray, but we also have to mobilize ourselves in such a way that we continually go on rescue missions. And it’s not easy – there’s always a cost involved. In fact, to do anything that matters, you have to lay something else down.
What in your life has taken precedence over the mission that Jesus gave us to pursue those who are lost? How do you need to reprioritize your life in order to rectify this?
In The Martian, it’s people who were already tired and ready to get back home who decide to turn around – risk everything – and go try to rescue Mark. We need to do the same thing. We ought to continually count the cost, pay the price, and risk it all: to do everything we can to rescue just one more person.
We need to make the decision to find someone lost and help them, and be a light of hope for them. We can encourage those who are down, pray for those who are hurting, listen to those who feel alone, invite those who need a word of hope.
You can’t do everything. But you can do something. You may not be able to help everyone. But you can help someone. Everywhere you look there are people who need your help and the hope that only Jesus can give.
We all know people who need to experience the love of Jesus. They need His grace, His mercy, His freedom, His salvation. We never stop searching, because our heavenly Father never stops searching for us.
Who is the person closest to you who doesn’t know Jesus?
Spend some time as group praying for those people. Ask God to reveal himself to them. Ask God to give you opportunities to love them, to share Jesus with them, and to invite them to church.
Commit to praying for this person every day for the next 30 days. You don’t have to have a marathon prayer session every day. You want to do more than just a quick, “God, be with her…” as you’re falling asleep, but you need only set aside two or three minutes each day. (Although you can obviously pray longer if you’d like.)
However long you intend to pray, pick a specific time at which you will do it (right after you get up, at lunch, during your drive home, right after you go to bed, etc.). We do the things we plan to do, not the things we intend to do
We unleash compassion all year long, but on Saturday, March 4 we're coming together for a Serve Day to share the love of Jesus with the lost and hurting in our communities in some very practical and tangible ways
We would challenge you to consider serving together as a group. You’ll not only get the opportunity to make a difference in your community, we can just about guarantee you’ll get to know one another better as you serve shoulder-to-shoulder.
For a full list of projects and to sign up, visit eastside.com/serveday.