The Parable of the Road to Perdition

Sometimes people ask how we can build bridges between popular culture and the gospel. Here are some excerpts from a talk I gave to high school students Monday night.

The number one movie in the country is Road to Perdition. It stars Tom Hanks in the role of Michael Sullivan, a nice guy who has made a bad choice. He decided to accept employment with John Rooney, a local mob boss who accumulates wealth and power through marketing prostitution and feeding people’s addictions for alcohol and drugs. He retains control through violence and an iron-clad control over the community.

Michael thought he could control his destiny but he couldn’t. When he crosses Rooney’s son, his wife and younger son are murdered and a contract is taken out on him. He is on the road to “perdition,” defined in the dictionary as “ruined, a complete and irreparable loss.” His greatest fear is that his surviving son will choose the wrong road too, because he finally realizes that you reap what you sow and there is a way that seems right to man, but it’s end is destruction.

As you know, Jesus taught that everyone is on a road and that most are on the “road to perdition” In Matthew 7 he pointed out that the road to destruction has a wide gate, is easy and many are on it and that the road to LIFE passes through a narrow gate, it is hard and there are few who take it.

Getting on and staying on the right road is the most important task for each human on this earth. It requires choosing the right road in the first place and in Jesus view there are only two roads the road where God governs life and the road of self-governance and self-will. Similarly in Star Wars you are either on the dark side or light.

We also need to make the right choices once on the road. As any traveler without a good map knows, it is a law of life that getting lost begins with one wrong turn. Psalm 1 tells us that happiness is reserved for those who know, love and obey God’s law. It also reveals that staying on the right road involves choosing the right friends, because the wrong friends will give us bad advice and will scoff at the notion of living in the light.

Most importantly getting on and staying on the right road requires doing the right thing when we get lost ET called home and when we are lost our only hope is in calling out to God who is eager and ready to forgive, just like the father in the story of the prodigal son.

Robert Frost said; “two roads diverge in a yellow road, and I took the one less traveled and it has made all the difference in the world. The choice is ours we can walk on the wide road that leads to ruin or a narrower, harder road that leads to eternal and abundant life!!!

When I finished the talk I mentioned to the youth pastor that I don’t usually speak to high school groups because I am ‘so old.’ He said, “hey, when you start with media (we showed the movie trailer) and weave media references throughout the talk–you’ve got them!

Which, of course, is why I advocate cultural literacy combined with biblical literacy in understanding and communicating the gospel!

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in July 24, 2002 by | No Comments »

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