[Photo and movie quotes copyright someone else!]
Twenty years ago this summer, The Truman Show hit theaters. Did you see it? I think I did. If you didn’t, there will be spoilers, so consider yourself warned, decades late.
Jim Carrey plays Truman, a man who has lived his whole life in a simulated existence – the ultimate reality TV show. While everyone with whom he interacts is an actor playing a role, Truman himself is just living. His entire experience is controlled and manufactured by the production team, which is headed up by Christof (Ed Harris). It’s a bizarre setup, and the movie falls squarely into the territory of fantasy. But fantasy and sci-fi movies often tell us a lot about the human experience once you get past the suspension of disbelief. The driving force in the film is the process by which Truman starts to figure out that all is not as it seems. He decides to make a run for it, and Christof confronts him before he can walk off the show altogether. Recently, I ran across the ending of the movie on YouTube, where Truman grills Christof before an audience of millions:
Truman: Who are you?
Christof: I am The Creator – of a television show that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions.
Truman: Then who am I?
Christof: You’re the star.
Truman: Was nothing real?
Obviously, Christof – despite his megalomania – is not God. But Truman’s first questions to the man who has been manipulating his whole life tell us a lot about mankind. Let’s consider the first couple questions.
Who are you? This echoes many people in the Bible who met God Himself. Jacob (Genesis 32) asked his mysterious visitor who He was. When Moses (Exodus 3) saw the burning bush, he looked intently to figure out what it was, and then God identified Himself. Paul’s first question when Jesus appeared to him was “Who are You, Lord?” (Acts 9:5). Indeed, people throughout the ages have asked the question who God could be.
Who am I? This is an existential question, but I think it’s more than that. It’s as if Truman were asking, “In light of what you just said, who am I?” Or maybe, “You run a TV show; what does that have to do with me?” We would all like to know who we are to God. This is the same idea as we see in Psalm 8:4…
What is man that [God would] take thought of him,
And the son of man that [God would] care for him?
In fact, there are dozens of verses in the Bible that explore our identity and nature in the context of who God is. Isaiah saw who he was before a holy God, saying, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!” (Isaiah 6:5). Still, take a look at Romans 3:21-23:
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested… through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
This says that, while we ourselves were not able to reach to this holy God, God has made a way to bring us near, through faith in Jesus. So there you see a key difference between God and the Christof character. Christof didn’t want to be known at all, while God gave both the Bible and His own Son so that people could come unto Him. We can grill God! We can ask those questions, and we know where to go for the answers.
Who in your life is asking those questions?