Sunday, April 28, 2013

What if the fallenness within all of us was on a rampage and the only righteous One was Christ?

A few nights ago we watched Horton Foote’s Alone. Like most of Foote’s other movies, such as Tender Mercies, Alone is a quiet movie with ordinary people.  Foote’s plots usually pull in deeper plots that revolve around themes of goodness versus self will, contentedness versus constant strife. Tender Mercies sets mercy, both God’s and humanity’s against bitterness. In Alone, The possibility of an oil well and money amplifies the character of each person and also begins to shape their personalities.  As I watched the movie I understood the story to cover the human condition in ordinary times.

Children rebel against their parents; parents are harsh and uncaring; wealth supposedly would solve such irritations. But kindness, goodness and order prevailed as it generally does in most of Foote’s movies.

But what if Foote wrote a script about times that are not ordinary times, times that are filled with more than surly teenagers or angry controlling parents? What if the fallenness within all of us was on a rampage and the only righteous One was Christ? That is the reality of our world. And because of it, we may be more open to the absolute glory and goodness of our Savior.  

I saw the movie the same day that I read a report about Belgian Catholic Arch-Bishop, Andre-Joseph Leonard being attacked by topless protestors cursing and screaming at him, as well as pouring water on him from bottles with pictures of Mary on them. This was about his stand on abortion and homosexuality. He remained in prayer while this was happening. We are in those extraordinary times. We have a calling to a world that is in relentless rebellion. As in the sixties, among the flower children, the rebellious have found an outlet for their frustrations. They want a freedom that will not set anyone free.

This is a give away on the movie, but it is an old movie.  In the end, after extraordinary digging the company finds, not oil, but salt water. There will be no wealth and only the main character, Hume Cronyn, and his two friends, one of them James Earl Jones, are left alone on the front porch musing over the past and singing “Shall we gather at the river where bright angel feet have trod.” But the metaphor of salt water rather than oil is not lost.  

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matthew 5:13)”

Matthew reports that Jesus not only spoke of disciples as salt, but also as light. “Let your light shine before men in such away that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” The call of Jesus is to be both salt and light in the midst of needy—sometimes demonic—people. 

I thought of this, on the day that I read the article and watched the movie. The teenage girl in the movie, who is sullen and sassy, and is slapped by her mother, could well become like one of the girls who yells and screams at the Arch-bishop. Extraordinary times produce extraordinary sinners. They also produce painful times for those who love Jesus. But the Arch-Bishop sets praying for her and the others. That is salt and light.

God gifts us with the love and righteousness of Jesus, and he calls us into a battle that is not easy. It is not easy because first we must acknowledge our own sin, and then we must love the sinner who hasn’t repented. Love them when their words sting and hurt. Love them as Jesus does and did when he was dying on the cross.

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