The other weekend, my wife and I took our son to see the latest Minions movie. I wondered if creatures who babbled nonsensically would be able to carry a two-hour movie. They did. The movie, which serves as a prequel to the Despicable Me franchise, explores the history of these loveable creatures. We learn that, more than just being bumbling creatures who like bananas and create amusing accidents, Minions live with a single-hearted focus. Their entire existence is predicated on one goal: find the biggest, baddest, vilest boss and serve him or her. This focus rules their lives. From serving the meanest dinosaur around, to following Napoleon until his defeat, to carrying out missions for supervillian Scarlet Overkill, Minions live to deny themselves and serve a master.
In fact, it is this allegiance that sets the Minions apart from the other characters in the movie. The other characters simply serve their own self interests. They exist to pursue their own will, and their own desires. Humanity is shown to be completely self-focused. There is no sense of self-giving. From bank robberies, to high stakes jewel heists, the desire of every villain in the movie is simply to outdo the others, and these desires set them at odds with everyone else. There is constant competition, a striving to get what they do not possess; the biggest cash-out, the best prize, the richest trinket.
But not Minions. They love. They care. Their eye is constantly upon the other. They protect each other, and the kingdom to which they belong. In this topsy-turvy world where good is bad and villainy is endearing, Minions model a rich faithfulness and a discipline of submission that is both powerful and attractive. One can imagine that the biggest compliment for a Minion would be the words ‘well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.’ For Minions, there could be nothing better than this.
Of course, sometimes minions mess up – as we all do. But in the times when they find themselves out of step with the master they love, they continually strive to return. They are forever the prodigal returning home, longing to be embraced.
Obviously, we are not called to serve that which is villainous or evil. In this way, the twisting of moral righteousness in the Minion universe mirrors the land of Screwtape and Wormwood. Villainy aside, faithfulness is faithfulness, and the singleness of purpose found with the Minions is a powerful example of the nature of discipleship and the call to Christian living. In no small way, Minions model the type of life that Jesus calls us to.
We are called to be faithful. We are called to place all at the feet of Jesus, and to live a life in service to his Kingdom. We empty ourselves of all that is contrary to His purpose. We empty ourselves at the throne of the ‘big boss’, wishing beyond all wishes to live out his will and fulfil his purpose. Jesus says, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple – (my minion?) – let them deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.’ Following Jesus is impossible if we are too concerned with the building up of our own kingdoms.
Such submission of our wills, our purpose, our selves, can be scary – yet such discipline leads us into a joy that cannot be found by the mere following of our own whims. Life as defined by God’s kingdom is life-giving and exuberant. It produces laughter, and games, and silliness. But more than all of this, it produces a love and a grace that cannot be talked about, only experienced , only shared.
As we follow the Minions out of this prequel and into their other movies, what we find is that in serving the Big Boss, the Minions uncover a deeper, hidden joy. What they end up finding in Gru is not simply the biggest, baddest, boss around, but a boss who is willing to reciprocate their faithfulness. Gru becomes the boss who loves them, who cares, and who will give of himself sacrificially for those he loves. Minions uncover that life in the masters Kingdom is not about duty or obligation, but about love and grace.
Let us, you and I, be Minions for our Lord. Let us lay down our need to compete, to strive, to one-up. Let us decide that a life lived for the master is better than a life lived for ourselves. And in that space, let us pray the Minion’s prayer ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done’, and then give ourselves to living out our Lord’s Kingdom .