Horror Surprise and Gospel Relief

In a world of patterns of fear and patterns of insecurity, Jesus breaks the mold with grace.

Amanda McMillen / 10.28.21

The unexpected is thrilling. It’s why we love both horror movies and comedy — we think we know what’s coming and then the terror (or joke) takes us by complete surprise! Horror film director Jordan Peele put it this way in an interview with the American Film Institute:

The link, to me, between comedy and horror is so close. They’re not even sisters, they’re conjoined twins…they’re both the best way I know of to deal with our fears. Specifically, the fear of death. Which to me is the ultimate in tension and release. The idea that we’re all consistently dealing with this reality of…what comes next. It’s no mistake to me that comedy and horror replicate that notion of pattern, pattern, pattern, and then we break the pattern and there is a visceral reaction when we break that pattern.

We fear death — horror movies and our reactions to them confirm this. But we also fear all of the everyday things that we can’t control, the unknown variables of our lives. This is a world of insurance policies and a world of anxiety about where we stand with one another, all enveloped in a general fear of being “good enough.” Horror movies show us the real fear underneath the vast insecurity of our lives.

In a world of patterns of fear and patterns of insecurity, Jesus breaks the mold with grace. In the pattern of our tensions, we are met finally with relief right in the middle of our fears. We experience the pattern, pattern, pattern (fears of being good enough and fears of the unknown) and we are interrupted in this pattern with a crucifixion — a total surprise ending. The pattern of the inner accuser voice, the pattern of insecurities, the pattern of fears that keep us awake at night — the pattern takes a twist with the voice of God who says the work is done, we can rest, and we are loved as we are.

The truth of the Gospel doesn’t mean we don’t have the fears that we have, it just means we have a light at the end of the tunnel, who is Jesus Christ. We’re living in a horror movie full of fears of death and the unknown and the Gospel brings us that much-needed moment of comedy. We live in the tension, but there is also the freedom of the release — a good, hearty laugh at the end.

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