Friday, May 18, 2012

The Hunger Games & Sacrifice

The buzz in my house over The Hunger Games (books and film) is growing this spring. My wife and daughters encouraged me to read the book over and over again. So I did!

I finished Suzanne Collins' thriller novel not long ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. And, yes, it was a book about teenagers killing each other. And, well yes, I'm a pastor...

Here's a quick summary of the book from Wikipedia:

The Hunger Games is a young adult novel written by American television writer and novelist Suzanne Collins. It was first published on September 14, 2008, by Scholastic, in hardcover.[1] It is written in the voice of sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in apost-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem where the countries of North America once existed. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, holds absolute power over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.


The one scene that is burned in my mind is the "reaping" scene where they choose Katniss' sister, Prim, for a fight-to-the-death match she has no chance to win. So Katniss (curious name) volunteers for what will most likely result in her death. But because of her great love for her sister, she volunteers nonetheless. 

This sacrifice rooted in love is a picture of what Jesus did for us. He willingly took our place on the cross for the punishment we deserve-for our sin. Yet Jesus went even though he had never sinned. 

Well, this makes him the only acceptable substitutionary sacrifice available. God the Father accepts him as our substitute making atonement for our sins. 

How do we know that Jesus was acceptable? Because God raised him from the dead. He resurrected him not only back to life--but to live forever! You'll have to read the book to find out how Katniss faired in her substitutionary role for her sister. Regardless of how it ends up, though, she demonstrated incredible self-sacrifice and love for her sister. And that is a picture of God's kingdom that is to come.

There are many other themes (freedom, loyalty, rebellion, civil disobedience, justice/injustice, mercy, war/peace, purpose, grace, vengeance) in this book (as well as the two sequels that follow) that make this a must-read series. So many people are talking about these stories and there surely will be at least two more movies based on the success of the first movie and the books. Great conversations with all kinds of people await us if we'll just give a little time to these well-written stories. 

If you've read the books or seen the movie, would you recommend others see/read this story or not? Why/why not?