Recently, I watched Wreck-it Ralph for the first time. (I know I’m really behind the times) Overall, I enjoyed the movie and even thought that there were some good messages within it, such as an anti-bullying scene and a general idea of the value of friendship that developed during the film. However, it was one of the last scenes and the message within it that caught my attention.
Right at the end of the movie, as the final and overall message of the film comes together, Ralph catches a glimpse of the lead female protagonist, Vanellope, and says to himself, “It turns out I don’t need a medal to tell me I’m a good guy, because if that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?”
How bad can I be? One of the underlying ideas within our current cultural landscape is the belief that people are, at their core nature, good. I believe one of the clearest messages within this movie that the producers were seeking to spread was that very idea. Despite your faults, you’re good. And if you are good with your faults, well then, I think it is safe to say that I’m good with mine. You’re good. I’m good. Even Ralph is good! We are all good.
There is a trend with this “goodness” idea and it is that we keep looking at each other to draw our confidence in our own goodness. Somewhat ironically much of what our culture values as “good” comes from Judeo-Christian values derived from the Bible. Now here is where it gets interesting, if there is one thing I have learned from my life of reading and studying the Bible it is that when humans are compared to God’s standard and His holiness, we are not good, not even close to good, nope, not even Ralph.
There is almost an innumerable amount of Biblical passages I could go to to prove this point, yet I think I will follow the Apostle Paul as he compiled a list of God’s perspective on humanity’s goodness in his letter to the Roman church:
“There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
there is none who seeks after God
all have turned aside,
together they have become useless;
there is none who does good,
there is not even one
their throat is an open grave,
with their tongues they keep deceiving,
the poison of asps is under their lips;
whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness;
their feet are swift to shed blood,
destruction and misery are in their paths,
and the path of peace they have not known.
there is no fear of God before their eyes.”
It doesn’t take an expert of literature to realize how all-encompassing this portrait of humanity is. Our culture loves many of the values that come from the Bible, yet they absolutely hate being told that they are not good. Jesus Himself said that this is why the world hates Him because He testifies that its deeds are evil. (John 7:7) Too many people, especially within the church, try to tame Jesus and describe Him not as He is revealed in Scripture but as whatever our culture wants Him to be.
Yet, to truly understand Christianity, to truly understand Jesus, one has to understand that they are not good. It is only by coming to terms with this bad news that one is able to understand the good news. (The Gospel) God did not have to intervene, He owed sinful man nothing, and yet, in His love, He sent His only Son to be the perfect atoning sacrifice for all who turn from their sins (even their “good works” or self-salvation projects) and look to Jesus for salvation and as their only source of good. (John 3:16, John 15:5)
I am by no means calling for a protest of Wreck-it Ralph, (if the reviews weren’t so bad I’d watch the sequel) but I do believe that Christians should be aware of the many ways in which our culture attempts to convince all of us that we are good, which is a message that is blatantly contrary to the message of Jesus Christ. Unless we convince men and women that they are wretched in God’s sight they will never understand the cross of Jesus Christ. The call of the Kingdom of Christ begins with repentance (Mark 1:15), and as faithful followers of Jesus we must tell the world that apart from Christ not one of us is good, not even Ralph.