The Great Controversy
All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God’s adversary, and led into rebellion a portion of the angels. He introduced the spirit of rebellion into this world when he led Adam and Eve into sin. This human sin resulted in the distortion of the image of God in humanity, the disordering of the created world and its eventual devastation at the time of the global flood, as presented in the historical account of Genesis 1-11. Observed by the whole creation, this world became the arena of the universal conflict, out of which the God of love will ultimately be vindicated. To assist His people in this controversy, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the loyal angels to guide, protect and sustain them in the way of salvation. (Genesis 3; 6-8; Job 1:6-12; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-18; Romans 1:19-32; 3:4; 5:12-21; 8:19-22; 1 Corinthians 4:9; Hebrews 1:14; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Peter 3:6; Revelation 12:4-9.)
In 2017, a young man walked into a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and opened fire, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others. The event sent shockwaves around the world. How could someone do that, particularly in a church? It reminds us clearly that we live in a world that is at war. Even in the South Pacific, a relatively safe part of the world, we feel the effects of conflict all around us.
But how did this conflict and war start? Long ago, Lucifer questioned God’s character. In his heart there began a strange but fierce conflict. Truth and loyalty to God were struggling against jealousy and pride.
I am a film-maker and I love listening to and telling stories. During my film school studies, I came across an interesting statement by a well-known screenwriter.
“All drama is conflict: Without conflict you have no action; without action you have no character; without character you have no story; and without story you have no screenplay” (Syd Field, Screenplay, p 196).
Stories reveal how characters respond to conflict through their actions. Watching a story allows us to see how someone deals with conflict, which reveals their character. Their actions, not their words, reveal who they are.
How God dealt with Lucifer’s accusations would prove whether or not they were, in fact, true. He had two choices—present the plain truth about the goodness of His character and restore peace in the universe by removing evil; or present the truth wrapped in a story to show His love through His actions. He chose the latter. So how does the story play out?
As a film-maker I enjoy looking at the structure of stories and one structure we learned early in our study was called the “Beat Sheet” by Blake Snyder. It is very formulaic and predictable but pretty much every Hollywood film fits loosely into this structure. What I find amazing is that God’s story also fits closely with this pop culture formula (see table, below).
Why is it important to me? The story structure provides closure and a resolution to the catalyst. It beautifully describes how willing God has been to get involved in our mess and to come down to our planet to save us.
This beat sheet structure essentially describes the human experience. We are all looking for a happily-ever-after. Hollywood uses this proven structure and it sells to the public because we all long for something more. As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has planted eternity in the human heart.”
It’s no surprise then that human hearts resonate with stories that mirror the ultimate story, a story we know as the great controversy.
The great controversy demonstrates the ultimate truth about love. It provides the only real solution to our lives. But unfortunately, Hollywood sells cheap versions of this story, fake and incomplete with heroes who find power from within; good and evil are often flipped, and with all this the viewer is left confused and empty.
Ellen White writes, “Millions upon millions of human souls ready to perish, bound in chains of ignorance and sin, have never so much as heard of Christ’s love for them” (Desire of Ages, 640). Who will tell them? She goes on to say, “Were our condition and theirs to be reversed, what would we desire them to do for us? All this, so far as lies in our power, we are under the most solemn obligation to do for them.”
The conflict in the great controversy story has revealed God’s character of love for us in a way that no other could have done. It is a character that I want to get to know and share with others.
He is the Author and Finisher of your story and mine. Let’s share this salvation story with the world.
Nick Lindsay is a producer, cinematographer and editor for Adventist Media.