4 Biblical Lessons from Everything Everywhere All at Once
Most Malaysians are sure to have heard of the 2022 movie, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”. This sci-fi fantasy multiverse film stars our very own Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, who won a Golden Globe for her masterful portrayal of its main protagonist, Evelyn Wang.
My wife and I managed to watch it recently and found Tan Sri Michelle’s acting simply amazing, on top of the stunning visuals, fascinating concepts, a stellar cast, and the writers’ creative imagination.
In a quick nutshell, ‘Everything’ is an action-drama film about struggling laundromat owner Evelyn, who is pulled into a plot by her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) across multiple universes to fight a villain who threatens the whole multiverse.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the messages embedded in this film and examine them through a biblical lens.
Theme 1: “Nothing matters in life”
One theme that repeatedly appears in ‘Everything’ is that nothing matters. For every decision a person makes, their alternate selves in other universes make other decisions, and none of those decisions make any significant difference to anything in the end. This depressing conclusion is what leads the villain in the movie to want to destroy the whole multiverse.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher repeatedly concludes that life is “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Ecc 1:2, 12:8). He does, however, give us some glimpses of hope by saying that if, however, we broaden our scope to include spiritual life and eternity, then we find that there is meaning to be found in a life with God.
To put it succinctly, if God doesn’t exist, then indeed, nothing matters. In this atheistic worldview, we are all the accidental by-products of time and natural processes, and our short lives are meaningless. If, however, God does exist, then our lives do have meaning and purpose.
Theme 2: “My life is insignificant”
Another thing that struck me from the movie was the villain’s deep emotional pain at her sense of insignificance and failure. In one conversation, she says, “If nothing matters, then all the pain and guilt you feel for making nothing of your life, it goes away.”
Perhaps some of us may empathise with this outlook, regretting our choices in life and feeling that we have wasted our potential. Maybe we see on social media that everyone else seems to be living a “better” life than us – holidaying in exotic places, winning awards, attaining promotions and positions of respect – and like the antagonist, we feel that we haven’t made much of our lives.
The question that arises for us, then, is “What makes a significant, successful life?” How do we measure that? Is it based on our wealth, pleasure or positions of power? While these things are valued by the world, God’s values are different.
Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Those last seven words have a profound effect on our quest for success, for Jesus is saying that our significance does not come from our actions or accolades, but from our relationship with Him.
The good life that we yearn for is the abundant life that He came to give us (John 10:10), and the way to gain this life is by remaining in Him – believing in Him, staying connected to Him through prayer and the Word.
Theme 3: “Please, be kind”
Of course, not all the messages we can unpack from this movie are so nihilistic. In the final fight scene, Waymond makes an impassioned plea to Evelyn for the violence to stop, saying, “The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don’t know what’s going on.”Evelyn learns from her husband how to fight with love and kindness. She goes on to overcome the many opponents arrayed against her, not by overpowering them and destroying them, but by reaching across the multiverse to fulfil their deepest desires.
This reminder to be kind to one another is timely in a world where we are increasingly polarised to extremes and peer at one another with hatred and suspicion. It is also very much in alignment with our values as followers of Christ, who not only taught us to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love our enemies (Matthew 5:38-45); but in His life, death, and resurrection, exemplified for us what it means to do these things.
Theme 4: Relentless love
In this movie, we also see Evelyn’s unrelenting, indefatigable love for her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu) – pulling her back from the brink of despair and pursuing her in and loving her in every universe, and ultimately winning her back.
The immense love that this mother has for her daughter reminds us of the infinitely greater love our Heavenly Father has for us. Whilst Evelyn gave her all to keep her daughter with her, our God gave His only Son, Jesus, to bring us back to Himself (Romans 8:32) and gave us His Spirit, adopting us as His very own sons and daughters (Romans 8:15-17).
And just as Evelyn refused to allow anything in the myriad worlds of the multiverse to stop her from pursuing and loving her daughter, Paul declares to us in Romans 8:38-39 that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
There is actually much, much more that could be written about ‘Everything’. This entertaining, thought-provoking movie is rich with ideas and themes which can spark theological reflection.
Watching it gave me the opportunity to think a little bit more deeply about what I believe, why I believe it, and how my faith is affected by or interacts with all these ideas and messages portrayed on the silver screen.
To me, this is a crucial part of being in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-17) and being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Thank you for joining me in this reflection – I hope that you will enjoy the movie and I pray that you have been blessed as much as I have.
>>Looking for more? Read: 3 Moments We Relate to in Everything Everywhere All At Once
About the Author
Kiew Sieh Jin is a member of Taman Ujong Methodist Church, where he serves as a lay preacher, worship leader, and Captain of the Boys’ Brigade. He is happily married to Chen May and has two often endearing, sometimes naughty, but always beloved children.
To read other Spotlight Malaysia articles, click below.