The box office continues to blaze after the explosive release of Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, and the world has fallen in love with Katniss Everdeen, the “girl on fire.” This sixteen-year old heroine starts off fighting to keep her family from starving to death, and ends up fighting not only for her own life, but for an entire nation in the face of serious oppression.
What the government officials begin to realize – a little too late – is that trying to stand in the way of Katniss and her companions is truly like stirring a flame. The more they try to control this rag-tag bunch from District 12, the more they end up sharpening their determination and inextinguishable fighting spirit. And the more they try to silence Katniss Everdeen’s voice, the louder her message of revolution grows, until its uncontrollable power rocks the world into action.
Echoes of a Greater Story
This story has run away with our collective imagination because it strikes a chord deep within our hearts. We all have an overwhelming desire to stand for what is right no matter what the cost, and this “inner fire” is something that was placed within us by our perfect Creator. The Hunger Games novels were never intended to be Christian works, but as I read them through the lens of a Christian worldview, I hear echoes of an even greater story: the story of the Gospel.
Echoes of Christian Martyrs
Katniss Everdeen is thrown into an arena and forced to fight for her life while a host of spectators watch for entertainment. Sound familiar? It should.
During the early days of Christianity, the Roman Empire dealt with Christians by torturing them, putting them to death, or throwing them into an outdoor arena and having them fight fierce gladiators and wild animals before a cheering crowd. The goal was to silence the Christian message once and for all, and to establish the authority of Rome through a reign of terror. However, as persecution against Christians increased, so did their burning desire to make Christ known to the nations. In the end, it appears that God actually used this Roman persecution to carry the Gospel message to the far corners of the world.
The similarities between the plight of early Christian martyrs and the tributes of the “Hunger Games” led Paul Asay, senior associate editor for Focus on the Family’s review blog, Plugged In, to write that “the premise and plot of The Hunger Games can recall for some the Church’s earliest martyrs – those who took part in another bloody spectacle on the floor of the Roman Colosseum.”
Echoes of a Christian’s “Inner Fire”
The fiery spirit that drives Katniss onward and earns her the title of “girl on fire” is a beautiful picture of the fire that burns within each Christian’s heart from the moment of their conversion.
This burning desire that all Christians are given to make Christ known was described by the prophet Jeremiah when he wrote that “If I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).
Re-igniting Our Flame
Unfortunately, the lives of many American Christians have come to more closely resemble the people of the Capitol than the heroes of District 12. Our love for material comforts and general lack of persecution has started to extinguish our inner fire. It seems that the majority of modern Christians have become a complacent generation of Christ-followers with no real drive for spreading the truth of the Gospel.
Christ warned us this would happen. He taught His disciples that refusing to share the Gospel message is like taking a bright light and hiding it under a basket, which is absolutely ridiculous (Matthew 5:15-16).
As I cheer for Katniss Everdeen and marvel at her resolve in the face of danger, I am saddened by the lack of resolve found in many Christian lives today. If only more Christ-followers would stand boldly for their faith! The entire world – not just the box office – could truly catch fire.