R.I.P.D. is essentially a Men in Black knock off, that replaces the aliens with dead souls who refuse to go to hell. I’ll be honest – I was hoping it would be better. It wasn’t all that funny or engaging. I even fell asleep in part of it. So maybe I’m just old, but the teenager I saw it with shared my sentiments—for what it’s worth. But, rather than try to dissuade you from seeing it (I’m sure the movie critics will do their best), I’d rather point out the one thing that made an impact on me and might be beneficial for you and/or for discussion.
When the veteran R.I.P.D. officer is explaining the job to the rookie, he explains how to find the “deados” – the dead souls disguised as the living. He explains that because the deados are dead, and have evil souls that did not go to heaven, their souls are rotting and affecting everything around them – they call it “soul stank”. There will be a foul, rotting smell, their surroundings will be filled with decay and mold, things will be broken. Decay and brokenness are signs of a rotting soul.
It’s that way in life too. Not that mold in an our apartment building is a sign that some neighbor is spiritually dead, but that when our souls are disconnected from God, our life-source, our lives show signs of decay and brokenness. The “soul stank” often manifests itself in our attitudes (grumbling, complaining, anger, bitterness, to name a few), and in our unhealthy choices. It doesn’t just stop with us though. The “smell” doesn’t stay contained; it wafts into other areas, most notably our relationships.
The deado’s had all the signs of death—rot, decay and stink—but they were masters at hiding it. They had ways of making it look like everything was normal so that the living would not see how much death and decay was there. There were certain triggers, however—things which brought their true nature to the surface and made it impossible for them to hide. (For whatever reason, Indian food was one of those triggers.) When their true nature surfaced, they transformed into the hideous, monstrous corpses they really were, and their surroundings would collapse into various degrees of disarray. It was always like that, in reality, but it was well-disguised.
A lot of people in this world are just as adept at disguising and/or hiding the ugly, broken, monstrous pieces of their own nature, and foul decay in the relationships surrounding them. For all practical appearances, they are healthy, vibrant human beings. They appear that way until something triggers them and they lose control of their delicate façade. Suddenly you can see it. This nice person transforms into someone full of rage. You begin to see that their “loving” family is actually terrified and walking on egg-shells to keep from springing any trigger. Whatever the specifics of how their decay manifests, it always stinks and things are always broken.
Triggers generally come in the form of external pressures. If you want to know if an orange is good or not, put pressure on it. The color won’t tell you. The texture won’t tell you. But the juice…the juice will tell you. Only a good orange will produce sweet tasting juice when squeezed. A fake won’t give you any juice, and a rotten one will give you bad juice. Pressure reveals what’s inside.
Jesus came to bring life and to save us from our own “soul stank”. He came to transform what’s inside of us so that when the pressure and the triggers come, what squeezes out of us is “good juice,” not rotten decay.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24
Questions for Discussion:
- Have you ever known anyone who was like a deado? Who seemed to have it all together on the outside, but would flip into something wholly “other” when triggered?
- Have you ever been that person? Have you ever tried to make it look like you were fine on the outside, while you felt that you were dying on the inside and life was falling apart?
- What are the things that trigger you? What are the things which bring out the worst part of your nature, the things you most want to hide from others?
- Who have you known that really was/is as good on the inside as they appeared to be on the outside?
- What qualities from Galatians 5 above typify your life? Which ones do you want to typify your life?
- How do you live a life that is filled with the fruit of the Spirit?
Click here to read a collection of quotes from R.I.P.D.
by Stacey Tuttle