To borrow a phrase from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, it is the best of times, the worst of times. That is how one might describe the current movie-saturated era. Certainly, from an entertainment perspective, it is the best of times. While I myself still prefer the classic films of the 40s and 50s, from The Maltese Falcon to The Searchers, it is hard not to be impressed by everything from the special effects in something like Inception to the sheer brilliance of acting inThe King’s Speech. Yet therein lies the problem, that which makes it, in a sense, the worst of times. As our access to the past is increasingly shaped by, if not actually mediated through, such media as movies, the real past is too often sacrificed for the sake of a good story.
Take The King’s Speech, for example. As every British schoolboy of a certain generation would know, Winston Churchill, great war leader though he was, was also an ardent supporter of the pro-Nazi Edward VIII in the abdication crisis. The great British hero was not quite so heroic, or astute, when it came to the slimy Edward. The movie, however, puts Mr. C on the other side. Which version, I wonder, will become the received narrative for future generations? More egregiously, a few years ago a movie was made about the American cracking of Adolf Hitler’s Enigma Code. Great story, I guess, if you are an American. The fact is, however, that it was the British who cracked the code.
Of course, movies are not history. They are artistic constructions built (some more, some less) loosely on actual events. As I try never to compare a movie to the novel upon which it is based, since they are two separate works of art, so I should perhaps not demand too much accuracy of what are, in essence, pieces designed for entertainment — except, of course, when they claim to be “based on a true story.” The danger is that the audience might confuse a bit of fun for a factual representation of history.
What is perhaps more interesting, however, is what such revision tells us about human nature. After all, both filmmakers and audience members are somewhat complicit in the activity: they give us what we want. It would appear that we like our stories simple, our heroes relatively flawless (an unflawed hero is boring, but one with too many flaws is just too complicated), and we like ourselves, or the people who represent us, to be center stage and the ultimate measure of the good and the true.
This is a striking contrast to the kind of history we have in the Bible, and nowhere is this more graphically demonstrated than in Hebrews 11. I have been preaching through Judges for the last few years, and, frankly, the task would be much, much simpler if Hebrews 11 had never been written. The narrative of Judges is very clear on cha racters such as Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson: the first was a man who brief ly emerged from idolatry and rapidly descended back into it after his military task was done; the second murdered his own daughter, a crime he could have avoided had he known the Word of God; and the third was a womanizer whose contempt for his Nazirite status apparently knew no bounds. Yet Hebrews 11 parades them before our eyes as heroes of the faith.
The temptation is to use Hebrews 11 as the grid to smooth out the rough edges of the Judges narratives — to make it the means of cleaning up the heroes , a s i f Samson’s l ibido, Jephthah’s stupidity, and Gideon’s ephod are simply incidental to the story. But they are not; these things are central to the narratives of these men in the book of Judges. Take them out and there is almost nothing left.
So how do we handle these things in an age when we like to rewrite history to suit our tastes, especially given the apparent sanction for so doing in these cases by Hebrews 11? Well, we must first avoid the fault of too many Christian historians and biographers, who treat their chosen subjects as if they were somehow exempt from the impact of fallen human nature. Such hagiographies might be fun to read, but they can leave us verging on the worship of the characters being considered or with unrealistic — and ultimately depressing — expectations of what the Christian life should be like.
Second, we must understand what the writer of Hebrews is doing. If you know your judges, you know the faults of the men listed; and you therefore know that, whatever else the writer is doing, he is not commending these men as heroic examples of moral action. Instead, he commends them because, despite the fact that they were at best deeply flawed pieces of morally shattered humanity, they were blessed because it was not ultimately about them. Rather, it was about the kingdom and the Messiah to whom they looked. The writer of Hebrews is not rewriting history to suit his audience; he is pointing to the fact that, reprehensible though these people were, in Christ they were conquerors. And that should be far more encouraging to us than anything our own instinct to whitewash our heroes might produce.
If you ever asked yourself the question, what does it mean to live a godly life? and if your not exactly sure what living a godly life involves, this extract taking from Charles Seet book 'A Christian in a non-Christian world' provides ample guidance on just what to do.
Now it is worth asking the question then, 'What does it mean to live godly?' It does not mean that we are just to confine ourselves within a set of rules and regulations. Some people reduce godly living to a list of 'do’s and don'ts.' But the meaning of godly living goes far deeper than that.
Godly living means living in the manner that God wants us to live. It means having the same feelings, attitudes and heart's desires that God has. It means that we love the things that God loves, care for the things that God cares for, and dislike those things which He dislikes. And since God loves righteousness, a godly person also loves righteousness. Since God hates sin, a godly person also hates …
Does God always hear people’s prayers, or do some pray in vain thinking that God hears them, when in reality He chooses to turn a deaf hear to their cries? Some may perhaps have a notion that all prayers are worthy, and God being who He is is by nature willing to listen and hear their prayers delightfully. They entertain the notion that it is their birth right for God to listen to their prayers and answer them accordingly. Also, there are some who come before the presence of the Lord with severe doubts, defeated by the devils whisper that they are such an unworthy soul that for them to lift up their cries to the Lord is an abomination. They are mute by their own wickedness, depressed and thus fail to pray.
What does the scripture say about God turning a deaf hear to prayers? It is to be said that God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer as He sees fit. He is altogether happy and never backed into a corner, God always does whatever He pleases for He is free to do as He wills…
The Sin of Adam and Eve resulted in the fall of
humanity. Every generation after them became wicked and that is why scripture
affirms, ‘that there is no one righteous, no, not even one.’ Mankind became
enslave to the passions of its flesh, its desires became its ruler and men
followed the natural dictates of their hearts; and were it not for Sovereign
grace, the race of men would now only be read of by angels in the library of
extinct creatures. Adam and Eve witnessed the consequences of
their sin in the death of their beloved son, Abel, by the hands of Cain who
murdered his brother in anger and was thus sent away from the presence of God.
My dear sisters, sin is not only sin when it is found in its extremes, sin is
also sin in its subtlety and vanity. Sin is sin when one's affection is set on
another and not on God, when one lives to please a thing or a being which is
not God; this is also sin. This becomes especially evident in the lives of
Adah and Zillah the wives of Lamech. Th…