The movie Inside job tells the story of the banking crisis of 2008 from within the world of banking itself. Narrated by Matt Damon, it tells a story of greed from the world of bankers, regulators and ratings agencies.
At the heart of the whole system is profound human fallenness, which can only lead to collapse and the devastation of countless lives. For some, there would never be recovery from the misery that this crisis brought into their lives.
The scale may be different, but the same essential fault line is evident in every human life, not just the banking sector. Greed and selfishness flourish in every heart, in every home. The problem is deeply rooted in each one of us. We are all the authors of our own collapse.
Inside to redeem
The coming of Jesus Christ is good news for such a world as ours and for people like us. The beginning of John’s Gospel introduces us to another ‘inside job’, but this one is for the reversal of human sin and brokenness.
John tells us that the one who made the world came into his creation as a genuinely human being. He was ‘made flesh’, becoming like us in every possible sense, except for sin, in order that human life might be redeemed.
In his days on earth, Jesus experienced the full range of the frailty of flesh — growing tired and hungry, experiencing pain and sorrow, wrestling with temptation.
At the heart of human history stands the God who became like us and who knows us from the inside out. He is able to empathise with us, knows our weaknesses and shares our pain.
Jesus, the Word made flesh, stands alongside you in your weakness and shame neither to condemn nor to condone, but in order to bring you genuine release.
And it is release that we need: from the guilt and the power of sin and the just judgement of God. The Word was made flesh, not simply to be alongside us in our weaknesses, but in order to take our place at the point where sin is condemned in the flesh — on a cross of shame.
Inside to rescue
John tells us at the outset that Jesus ‘came to that which was his own and his own did not receive him’. The rejection of Jesus culminated in his death upon the cross.
Yet in that death was found the deep wisdom and power of God, the means of forgiving human rebellion against God and breaking its stranglehold on human history and experience.
The problem of sin was an inside job, and its resolution also had to arise from within. But that could never happen through fallible human effort; it could only be secured through the unveiling of God’s grace and truth in the reality of a fully human life.
And John tells us that those powerfully transforming realities were fully — and wonderfully — seen in Jesus, the Word who was made flesh.
At one point in the movie, Christine Lagarde, who was in charge of economic policy in France during the crisis, recalls telling a banking official: ‘We are watching this tsunami coming, and you’re just proposing that we ask which swimming costume we’re going to put on?’ The official’s response was, ‘Things are under control’!
Commenting on the film, one derivatives trader said it ‘showed very accurately the denial by everybody inside or outside the industry that such a crisis was even occurring’.
Jesus Christ came into the world to rescue people from the terrible consequences of sin, from a tsunami of rightful judgement.
It would be tragic beyond words if we simply assumed that we have things under control. They aren’t! We need rescue and we simply cannot rescue ourselves. Denial of the problem cannot be its solution.
Inside to restore
One of the most shocking scenes from the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 was of a man standing still on a beach as the monstrous waters approached. He didn’t try to run and escape. Because he felt there was no possibility of escape? No one knows. All we do know, because it happens before our very eyes, is that he was consumed by the waves.
It would be profoundly tragic if we knew our need but felt there was no way out. There is a way out. The Son of God became a real human being, so that we might be definitively rescued, set free from all our brokenness and shame, and restored into true life with the God who made us.
He entered into human history and human experience so that we all might be given hope. He offers you grace and truth. Have you received him?
The author is minister at Pontefract Congregational Church and a member of the council of the missionary society, UFM Worldwide. He is married to Anna and has three children.