A World Orchestrated by the Adjustment Bureau

Image by NevilleHobson via Flickr

At 8:15 on Thursday night we curled up on the couch and watched the “Recently released on DVD” movie “Adjustment Bureau”.  Starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, it enjoyed mediocre reviews and only a moment on the big screen.

Not ones to be put off by the reviews we paid our $4.99 through ‘on demand’ and proceeded to watch a world orchestrated by the “Adjustment Bureau”.

This movie is a theatre and theology must-see. The questions: Who really runs our lives? Do we each have a personal map in the possession of henchmen from the big guy upstairs? Is we deviate from that map and go off track are we then readjusted? And if we love deeply and completely can we change the map or is it set in concrete, immovable? In a single question, can God change His mind?

We set out to watch this movie after a long pre-dinner discussion about some unexpected changes that are coming to our lives. Often movies can serve as a welcome distraction when you’ve thought too long or too hard about something. In this case, it was not a distraction. Instead it made me more aware of events in our lives and who is orchestrating those events.

In the movie, a couple who is not supposed to meet according to the master plan, meet and set off a chain of events and a series of alarms in those who were supposed to make sure the meeting never occurred. The Adjustment Bureau, all men and always dressed in suits with hats atop their heads, has to move in and readjust the minds of people as they begin to deviate from the master map.

The message was clear: Free will only goes so far. While we have free will to pick the clothes we wear or the food we eat, that is about as far as it extends. The rest is a plan woven through our lives, no detours lest we incur the strong hand of the ‘Adjustment Bureau’ and the disapproval of the “chairman”.

The chairman is the “God” figure but the question arises, is the chairman out for the welfare and redemption of people or was he a dictator that couldn’t be crossed. The ‘Adjustment Bureau’, as angels of sorts, were violent and mean, not to be trusted.

As a person of faith, it was impossible to watch this without putting it side by side with my theology.  There is a clear difference between the characteristics of the God portrayed in the movie, and the God on whom I base my life.  The God who said through the prophet Jeremiah “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you, not to harm you. To give you hope and a future”.*

As the movie ended, the questions in my life remained. Do I believe that the interruptions that come into my life are controlled and orchestrated by a God who loves me or do I believe they are from a dictator? I believe I have a choice, not only in what to believe, but in how to live out what I believe.

*Jeremiah 29:11

6 thoughts on “A World Orchestrated by the Adjustment Bureau

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie but I agree, the whole way that God is seen and ‘angels’ are portrayed is interesting… not at all how I see it but I think it reflects how a lot of people do see God, free will and predestination….


    1. I have to say that I did as well Sophie. I loved the chemistry between the couple and the whole idea of it was fascinating. I sometimes wish I could watch films like that just for the sheer enjoyment instead of having to analyze.


    1. Bettie – I had Stef memorize it last year as she was struggling to figure out what to do in her gap year before college. Amazing words of comfort, protection and love.


  2. Throughout Scripture the Bible continuously instructs mankind to make righteous decisions by free will.

    Deuteronomy 30:11 “For this commandment which I command you today [is] not [too] mysterious for you, nor [is] it far off. 12 “It [is] not in heaven, that you should say, `Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 “Nor [is] it beyond the sea, that you should say, `Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 “But the word [is] very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

    Deuteronomy 30:15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 “in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 “But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 “I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong [your] days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

    John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

    John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

    Romans 2:10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

    1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain [it]. 25 And everyone who competes [for] [the] [prize] is temperate in all things. Now they [do] [it] to obtain a perishable crown, but we [for] an imperishable [crown].

    1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and [before] Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep [this] commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing.

    2 Timothy 2:21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

    1 John 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.


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