Epic – Review – Thoughts on Connection
Ronin: “Many leaves, one tree. We’re all individuals, but we’re still connected.”
After the death of her mother, teenaged MK is forced to go live with her Dad, an eccentric scientist who is so engrossed with his work studying tiny mythical forest creatures that he has lost all touch with his own kind, especially his family. MK ends up not only discovering that her father’s work is valid, and the leaf people are real, but she ends up becoming one herself and becomes entwined in a desperate fight to save the forest from the enemy’s decay. She is thrust together with a young leaf soldier in training, Nod. Nod is very talented, with the exception that he doesn’t work well with others—he’s a bit independent. MK, having lost her mom and being estranged from her Dad, knows a little about independence herself.
The movie touches on several themes: parent/child relationships, loss, the green movement, good vs. evil, submission to authority, healthy dependency vs. an unhealthy independence, etc. From a Christian perspective, however, I was struck by the leaf people’s motto: “Many leaves, one tree. We’re all individuals, but we’re still connected.” It can sound a little new agey, but it also reminds me of some Christian principles of connectedness. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) This doesn’t mean that every one is part of the vine Jesus talks about, but those who believe in Jesus become connected to Him. It’s through our connection to Jesus that we are connected with other believers.
Nod needed to be connected to the leaf people and needed to fight under the authority of his leader, Ronin, if he was going to accomplish anything good. He was no help to anyone when he went off to live for himself. In fact, on his own, he only got himself in trouble and made enemies in the racing circuits. The same is true for us. When we are under God’s authority and are connected to Jesus, that’s when we bear fruit. A branch never bears fruit if it’s cut off from its vine. Apart from the vine, apart from Jesus, we can’t do anything good. But when we are connected to Jesus, living under His authority, then we bear fruit…lots of it! What kind of fruit? Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Paul writes to the Corinthians about this same principle using a different metaphor. He talks about how we are the body of Christ.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (I Corinthians 12:12-26)
You can see how much emphasis the Bible places on Christians being connected and depending on each other, and just how offensive (and ridiculous) it is when a Christian thinks they can operate independently. As Ronin said, “many leaves, one tree.” We are “individuals, but connected.” At least, that is how God intended us as believers to relate to each other—lovingly connected through Him, appreciating the gifts and talents that each of us have to offer.
Questions for Discussion:
- Do you tend to want to be independent, or do you prefer to work in connection with others?
- How well do you value people who are different than you?
- When Paul writes about the body, about the different parts and how each has a role to play, does that make you think differently about some of the people in your life, especially ones you may not have valued much before?
- How often have you been so connected to other people that, if they suffered, you suffered, and if they rejoice, you rejoiced? What was it that made you that close to them and that dependent?
- Why do you think it’s so tempting to want to be independent?
- Do you think there’s a difference between just being connected to ANYone, and being connected to other believers through Jesus? How might having Jesus as the connecting factor make a difference?
By Stacey Tuttle