One of the interesting phrases that has come out of the Internet era is “spoiler alert.” For anyone who isn’t familiar with the phrase, it is used to warn a reader that the content that follows will give away important plot information about a movie, book, show, play, or game. The reason that we warn people about this is because if we know the ending to a story, it changes the way that we view the entire rest of the story. If I read an article and got some “spoilers” on a movie that I hadn’t seen yet, then when I eventually see that movie, I won’t be surprised when that plot twist happens. It takes some of the drama out of these forms of entertainment because it biases the eyes of the reader. You now know what’s going to happen, so all that remains to be seen is how it’s going to play out to get to that point.
In my sophomore English class in high school, one of the books we were assigned to read was The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Even though none of us had read the book before, we all knew the main plot twist to the story. Whether it was the common cultural use of the words Jekyll and Hyde, reading the Cliff Notes ahead of time, or the classic musical episode of the PBS show “Arthur,” there were so many ways for the ending to that book to be “spoiled” for us. But as we discussed the book in class, I discovered that there was one girl in our class who had somehow managed to go through life without hearing that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are one in the same. I initially felt sorry for her, because this would mean that she also didn’t learn from everybody’s favorite aardvark that having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card. Then I began to realize that she had a completely different experience reading the book than the rest of us did. The suspense, intrigue and mystery of the novel was there in full for her first read-through of the book.
As much as we may want that suspense, intrigue and mystery in our various forms of entertainment, we really don’t want it in our everyday lives, especially when it comes to the end of our life. Having a big question mark surrounding what happens after we die is not a comforting thing at all. I firmly believe that a “spoiler alert” is just what we need when we’re talking about the end times. When I know the ending to my story, it changes the way that I view everything else. If I know that after I die, I will be in heaven with God and all other believers forever, then that changes the way I view the day-to-day decisions in my life. My focus changes to being about eternal things rather than earthly, temporary things (Colossians 3:2). If I know that a loved one who is dying will soon be in heaven with their Lord by grace through faith, then that changes the way that I mourn their loss.
Our young people don’t need us to just complain with them about the state of their lives or this world. They need us to remind them of the ending of their story. When they mess up and make a big error, they need to hear that Jesus forgives those sins. When they are so focused on chasing after the fame, accolades, and things of this world, they need to be reminded to store up their treasure in heaven, the only place where it will last (Matthew 6:19-20). When they are weighed down by the vast amount of evil that they see in this world, they need to know that, spoiler alert, Jesus wins. In the end, Jesus always wins. His sacrifice prevails, His love endures, His Word alone stands forever.
To those of you who read this and now have the ending to Stevenson’s classic novel spoiled for you, I apologize. While I could fill this with more “I am your father” moments and spoil all sorts of different plots, I am electing not to. Instead, I pray that you will focus on “spoiling” the ending of the story of the lives of the young people that you work with, that their lives would be seen in light of what God has done for them, that they would live in the confident assurance that at the end of the day, Jesus wins. Every time you either see a “spoiler alert” notice or are watching something for the second time, I pray that you will be reminded of the fact that if we know the ending to the story, it changes the way that you see the rest of the story. Then I pray that you will live in light of your end, which is eternal life with Christ, and focus on sharing that spoiler with all those around you. In the end, Jesus wins. Take comfort in that spoiler this day and every day, until the day where He calls you home and that ending is realized.