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