“But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.” - Philippians 3:19
“If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—-- in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” – Galatians 5:15
My wife Irene and I visited the Hirshhorn Museum at the Smithsonian on The National Mall this past Saturday and stumbled across a short film that was playing there on the basement level entitled Next Floor by Denis Villeneuve. This film was striking, profound, and very well done.
Here is the premise of the film Next Floor according to the web site’s synopsis:
“During an opulent and luxurious banquet, complete with cavalier servers and valets, eleven pampered guests participate in what appears to be a ritualistic gastronomic carnage. In this absurd and grotesque universe, an unexpected sequence of events undermines the endless symphony of abundance.”
As this scene unfolds at this banqueting table of decadence and overconsumption, the bottom literally begins to drop out beneath those at the table. As they eat themselves into oblivion they begin to fall from one floor to the floor below them until they are left falling with no end in sight, as if being sucked into a hellish black hole. Their dark demise is illuminated only as the chandelier falls behind them lighting each floor below until it disappears into nothingness as the film comes to a close.
I was left with my mouth hanging open in disbelief and conviction. All I could think about was Philippians 3:19, “But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.” This short film Next Floor, and this picture that Paul paints in Philippians 3:19, is a frightening and realistic social commentary on our gluttonous and over extravagant culture of consumption and greed. We are spoiled rotten.
In Galatians 5:15, Paul warns us that if we bite and ravish one another, in no time we will be annihilating each other. When our appetites get so insatiable that we don’t care who we hurt or step on to get what we want, there is a huge problem. Selfishness and greed have no place in our lives as followers of Jesus. Our god is not our stomachs or our appetites. The culture and the world around us seek selfish gain by taking from others, through selfishness, gluttony, and greed, but we are called to so much more than this as followers of Christ. We are called to give selflessly and to think of others more highly than ourselves and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Material wealth, possessions, and the things of this life are not to be our gods and we are not to look to these to satisfy us or to fill us. Only God can truly satisfy us and fill our longings.
Our consumption can consume us if left unchecked. Our appetites can control us unless we feast on God and allow God to control us. Or stomachs can become our gods unless we make Jesus Lord of all and feed on Him.
May our hunger be for God and may we pray as the Psalmist prayed, “God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts (Psalms 63:1).”
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Ga 5:15
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Php 3:18-19