The other evening April and I took a group of youth to watch the new teen centered, thrill seeking, parkour moving, stomach dropping movie called Divergent. The movie is based on the novel by Veronica Roth, and honestly, I knew very little about the book or the movie before watching it that night. In fact, I had hardly even heard of it other than seeing a few facebook ads posted in my news feed.
We begin in a post-apocalyptic Chicago that is run by a new form of “government”. To help keep peace amongst the people in this unique government, the citizens are divided into 5 different groups or factions.
Abnegation: a group for the selfless, those who enjoy serving others.
Amity: a group for the people who desire to keep peace.
Candor: This faction is for those who value honesty above all else.
Dauntless: The brave. The group who lacks fear and is willing to protect the other four factions.
Erudite: The intelligent. This group values learning and gaining new wisdom.
The groups in which these citizens end up is determined by a test they take when they turn 16 years old. After the test is complete, they leave their parents home and begin a new life within the new faction that each teen has “chosen”.
The concept is to help create order by keeping the like minded people together. It would be similar to asking people to take a Myers Briggs personality test, and when the results are finished, you begin living in a new community with people who have the same / similar personality traits as you do. Sounds great, doesn’t it?!
Every once in a while though, the test these 16 year olds take does not give conclusive results. If the results are inconclusive, you are labeled a divergent. You are somebody who tends to be different from others. You don’t have a specific place among the 5 factions, and that makes you dangerous.
Our main character, Tris, is a divergent. She doesn’t fit into any of the specific categories typically assigned to people.
This movie made $55 Million in the United States on opening weekend. That’s a hefty chunk of change, isn’t it? This movie is geared towards adolescent teens, but I think it can resonate with all ages. I think we all have this desire to be brave, and smart, and to cherish honesty and serve other selflessly. I think when we look inward deep enough, we all want to keep peace among our friends and family. When we look at the 5 traits, we might resonate more towards one of these traits specifically, but somewhere deep inside of us, we want to do it all. We want to be fearless, yet full of love, don’t we?
I think the people that are drawn to this movie, to this story of feeling “out of place” are also being drawn towards the character of Jesus without knowing it. Jesus was a divergent. He didn’t fit into society as society would have liked him to be. He didn’t fit the normal standards that were placed before him, instead, he changed everything. He was part abnegation: Luke 6:35 “but love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” He chose to reject the standard of hating those who hate you, and said “look, love those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you” He rejecting the normal way of behaving. Jesus was part amity, as he says in Matthew 5:9, blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Jesus was candor when he said in John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” he also said before Pilate “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Jesus valued truth and honesty much like the people of the candor faction. Jesus was also dauntless. Jesus must have been a crazy man, right? Because a few sentences ago I said that he wanted to teach us about peace, but in the book of John chapter 2 we hear about Jesus making a whip of small cords and then he forces all of the money changers to leave the temple. The bible says he overthrew their tables! This is a man without fear. He chased the sheep and the oxen too! As for the erudite. Jesus doesn’t say a whole lot about intelligence. But he does say in Matthew 22:37 and Luke 10:27 that we are called to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. He wants us to use our intellect to love Him. On top of that, there are countless occasions where he outsmarts the pharisees with their ensnaring questions.
Here we have Jesus, a guy who is fearless and brave, loving and caring, desiring peace and selflessness and calling all of us to speak the truth… according to Veronica Roth, Jesus would have been a divergent. Do you know what happens to divergent’s? They get killed, because they bring to much disorder and chaos into a well structured life.
What happened to Jesus? He was killed, because the government of his day had a system that worked just fine, and He was a threat to that system.
Jesus also creates more divergent’s. In Jewish culture, you would grow up being taught by a rabbi for several years, as you got closer to your rabbi, he would either keep training you, or inform you “sorry, you didn’t make the cut to be in my group… go back home and learn from your father… do whatever it is he does”. Jesus finds some fisherman and a tax collector and says “hey, follow me, we’re going to change everything!”
These guys follow him. Then these 12 uneducated guys change everything. They no longer fit into the mold that society wanted them to sit comfortably in, they were eventually put to death for following the teaching of Jesus Christ. The most influential divergent the world has ever seen and will see. The best part is, he’s coming back. I hear His sequel will be pretty intense.
To wrap this up, I’m sure more people are going to go and see this movie. They will eat popcorn, drink soda, and be entertained by great graphics, awesome fight scenes and a compelling story of a young girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in. I’m sure most will walk out of the theater wondering “I wonder which faction I would live in?” For me, I would probably live in abnegation, because I love to help others. I would secretly want to be dauntless though… to live without fear, but I think everybody will see the story of Tris, and desire to be a divergent. Like Jesus was. He calls us out of our comfort, wraps his arms around us and says “hey, walk with me… let’s change the world together.”
Which group do you fit into? Which faction do you wish you were living in? How are you being called to change the world like a divergent? Are you a “threat” to the system like Jesus was?