Thor: Love and Thunder is a summer movie with a theological question: What makes one worthy? What makes a god worthy to be worshipped? And what makes us worthy to be our best selves and live our best lives?
Thor started out as a perfect, golden boy, but his arrogance made him unworthy to possess that which would make his power complete: His signature hammer Mjolnir.
By learning that his power was not for his privilege, but to protect others, Thor became worthy, using Mjolnir to vanquish evil and bless the good.
Thor’s latest adventure finds him facing off against Gorr, who’s got a legit beef: What good is a god who is unworthy of our worship? Who doesn’t act to bless, save, and love? Gorr surveys the pantheon of gods and finds none who are doing that. So, Gorr, who has been terribly wounded by his god’s inaction, decides to destroy them all.
Not to give too much away, but Thor goes to Zeus, the mightiest god, asking for help to stop Gorr. But Zeus can’t be bothered. He’s safe. He’s not going to risk his neck. Some god he turned out to be! But others do step up, proving that they are worthy. They are willing to suffer to save others – because, in the end, being on the side of life and love is the only thing that matters.
Which brings us to God, Jesus, and you.
We often get the God of the Bible confused with Zeus: An all-powerful, invulnerable white-bearded man high above us who’s got a short temper and little mercy. But if God is Trinity and Jesus is the face of God, then our God is not Zeus. Rather, our God is a vulnerable God who suffers with and for us because God is love.
If you’ve ever loved someone, you know that true love involves suffering with and for the beloved. Their pain is your pain. Their trouble breaks your heart. Parents would do anything to save their children.
Jesus is not 1/3rd of God. Jesus is God. Enfleshed, involved, and engaged as Emmanuel – God With Us. God in Christ emptied himself of privilege and position to fill us with life and love. By his obedience, he fulfilled the law. By his suffering, he healed our mortal wounds of sin. By becoming like us, he freed us to become like him: One with God – not so that we could just live forever, but so that we could forever love God and neighbors and thereby become a new creation where God’s love resides, God’s justice reigns, and God’s peace rules.
That’s what makes Christ worthy of our worship. He lived, died, and arose so that his life could become our life. And we become worthy – not by what we do, but by what Christ has already done. We become worthy not by taking up a hammer, but because Christ took up a cross. Which frees us to live a life of love in return. Not serving ourselves, but blessing others. Not by trying to be God, but by allowing God to be in us; to live in us. By the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we are given gifts and grace to follow Christ. Not to suffer needlessly, but to love fully. To do what we can and should do so that others suffer less. Our love, forgiveness, kindness, generosity, peacemaking – all those God-filled blessings help heal the world – and as we share those gifts, we are healed, too.
The good news is that God is good. Life can be tough, but God’s love is tougher. God in Christ suffers with us and for us to bring us out of our Good Friday darknesses into God’s Easter light, which continues to rise, bringing us and all creation into a God’s new day. This isn’t a Hollywood ending. This is a heavenly beginning. And it is here for you to live today.