The book and film The Hunger Games has some awesome Easter themes. The action takes place in post apocalyptic America, where the people are controlled by The Capitol. One boy and one girl from each district are forced to compete in the televised Hunger Games once a year. The Capitol pit people against each other for their own entertainment in a battle to the death.
The Easter action took place in the midst of the Roman version of the Hunger Games. At the Gladiator games during the time of Jesus, the Gladiators would say “Hail Caesar, we who are about to die, salute you!”According to the story, Jesus refused to play their game just as Katniss refused to play according to Hunger Games rules. His conviction cost him his life. He’s not the only person to lose his life standing up to an empire. History is littered with heroes like Jesus who changed the course of history with their counter cultural protests.
The Easter message is that YOU can change the course of history. You can rise above hurts and trauma from your past, and change the course of your own history. You can rise above cultural Hunger Games that divide and conquer and change the course of history. The Hunger Games offers two awesome inspirations.
- Choose your future
In the story, Katniss and Peeta are two of the Hunger Games’ contestants. The night before they head in to battle, Peeta tries to tell Katniss how he wants to die, but he can’t find the words. Peeta says, “‘I don’t know how to say it exactly. Only… I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense?’” It doesn’t make sense to Katniss, at least not yet. She wonders, “How could he die as anyone but himself?” Peeta explains: “‘I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some into some kind of monster that I’m not.… I keep wishing I could think of a way to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games.’”
Katniss and Peeta commit to living and dying as themselves—to not let the system change them, own them, or rob them of their convictions. In doing this, no matter the outcome of The Games, they DO beat the system. Conviction based in love and not fear changes the course of history, even if it doesn’t happen in the time and way you hope.
In The Hunger Games, Katniss takes her younger sister’s place in the battle. There are obvious parallels here to the Easter story. We’re hungry for heroes and we’re hungry for change. We can either fill our hunger with status quo, the empty carbs of human existence, or we can step outside of the comfort zone and fill our hunger by working for a cause larger than ourselves. As human beings we crave heroic stories. We’re hungry for heroes. If Jesus had never existed, we would find others to hold up as examples. They might be historic figures like Joan of Arc who said,
Every man gives his life for what he believes … one life is all we have to live and we live it according to what we believe.
Or they might be more recent legends like Martin Luther King, who said,
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
They might be deceased family members or friends who left behind a legacy of love. The important question is whether you are going to pay their example forward. Which causes are you prepared to suffer for in order to seed the change in the world?
The Easter message is to step outside of your comfort zone, whatever it is. The comfort zone is a tightly drawn circle. The comfort zone is always too close for comfort. This is where you remain a slave to the status quo. The much larger circle outside of the comfort zone is where the magic happens, both personally and culturally and it’s always growing. Dwell in this space, where your life is larger than fear. This is where you change the course of history, as the world becomes a gentler and fairer place.
Sacrifice comes in many shapes and sizes. For most of us, sacrifice doesn’t extend to giving our lives. History is more often changed through small, even unnoticed acts of kindness. As David Foster Wallace said,
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.