- an object or device in a movie or a book that serves merely as a trigger for the plot.
"the McGuffin in this intriguing comedy is an unpublished novel by a young writer killed in the war”
I was reminded of an interesting conversation by Malcolm Gladwell in his fabulous podcast, "Revisionist History." The cast is about the value of art. The great writer of thrillers, perhaps the greatest of all time, Alfred Hitchcock, while explaining a McGuffin to Dick Cavet says, “Yes. A McGuffin you see in most films about spies. It is a thing the spies are after. In the days of Rudyard Kipling, it would be the plans of the fort on the Khyber Pass. It is always called the thing that the characters on the screen worry about but the audience don’t care.”
That began the wheels turning.
I wonder if Jesus, in most cases, has become the believers' McGuffin. Meaning, I am questioning whether we as believers have made Jesus to be the object of OUR meaning and search. We have become the main character of our own faith story and subsequently, have relegated Jesus to the role of a plot prop. Let me play this out for us a bit.
*We speak to someone about our faith in Jesus. They do not seem to be blown away by our faith, or have any connection to the relevance Christ may have in their life.
*Friends are walking away from the church. It seems as if the promises of God are not only something they don’t want to believe, but they don’t want want them even if they are believable.
*Worship seems to be lacking depth for you these days. The words are promising enough. Jesus seems to be promising victory, no more fear and Happy Days if I repeat the positive Christian Mantra enough, but where do you find the root of all these grand statements?
*Life is not working out as advertised for you as a believer. Covid, depression, joblessness, loss of identity etc… Yep. Where is the easy road?
I want to respond to the problem with the answer from Christ’s lips.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
Do not miss this. Jesus is surrounded by a mass of people in search of something. He tells them that He is not their McGuffin. He is instead, the real thing that they seek. He is not simply a means to their perceived end. He is instead, “the whole fulfillment.”
The people who are following Jesus, are actually not. They are following their own desires, whims, entertainments, satisfactions and results. Are you ready for this? Jesus promised them none of these. He merely pointed out that whatever their heart truly cried for would be found in Jesus. In other words, this was not ever about their story. It was, and is, all His.
This is a most subtle shift. One vantage point of Jesus has Him as a main component in our story; one frought with difficulty and reward, good times and bad. It is a McGuffin story where Jesus is the means to our desired end, and we have sold Jesus to our world as a really good McGuffin. But, we don’t care about the McGuffin any more than we are emotionally attached to a recipe for a great egg casserole. We will discard the recipe as quickly as we discover another that takes less time, costs less, seems to taste as good or decide that we like pancakes better for breakfast.
We have reduced Christ, the irreducible incarnate Son of God, to an insignificant means to our end. In doing so, we sacrifice everything for our own picture of happiness. We play a sport at the expense of bowing at His altar. We don’t tell others of Him because we fear that it is an inconvenient message. Who wants to be the bearer of uncomfortable news?
This is our weekly work. To place Jesus Christ at the center of our worship… not as a way to attain what we worship. We place him at the center of what we teach, in fact, the subject. He is not a 5 step process to being a better me. He is what I am running toward, not merely the road I am running on to another destination.
Each week we should aim to destroy Jesus McGuffin. He is not Lord. He is not worthy and he is not eternal. Jesus Christ is.