“To love is not to wish one another well, but to carry one another’s burdens–that is, things that are grievous to us, and that we would not willingly bear. Therefore Christians must have strong shoulders and mighty bones …..
In his book, The Freedom of a Christian (1520), Martin Luther wrote:
“[A]s our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another and Christ may be the same in all, that is, that we may be truly Christians….
But alas in our day this life is unknown throughout the world; it is neither preached about nor sought after; we are altogether ignorant of our own name and do not know why we are Christians or bear the name of Christians. Surely we are named after Christ, not because he is absent from us, but because he dwells in us, that is, because we believe in him and are Christs one to another and do to our neighbors as Christ does to us. But in our day we are taught by the doctrine of men to seek nothing but merits, rewards, and the things that are ours; of Christ we have made only a taskmaster far harsher than Moses.”
Has anything really changed?
One evening when Luther saw a little bird perched on a tree, to roost there for the night, he said,
“This little bird has had it’s supper, and now it is getting ready to go to sleep here, quite secure and content, never troubling itself what its food will be, or where its lodging on the morrow. Like David, ‘it abides under the shadow of the Almighty.’ It sits on its little twig, content, and lets God take care.”
“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in God’s grace and knowledge of it makes all men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures; and this is the work of the Holy Ghost in faith.”
Martin Luther would have empathized with these film depictions of Christians who found themselves in situations that required them to defend their faith against great odds. You might say they became leaders unintentionally, as did Luther himself. Facing the Diet of Worms in 1521 he said,
“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason, I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me.”
Both films feature a main character who risks virtually everything to defend his or her Christian beliefs. Both are vindicated and triumph over systems that seek to ridicule and belittle them. Both had very good presentations of the logical, scientific and historical reasons to accept Christianity (the big word for this is apologetics.) I found them inspiring and entertaining. (Of course, I know I am years behind in my movie-viewing and probably most readers have already seen the films — if you haven’t, you can now easily get them from the local library).
I do have a few criticisms: most of the characters were almost cartoonishly one dimensional — the Christians are obviously good, the atheists bad, and not much room in between for the doubting or seeking. Conversions and answers to prayer come quickly….but this is a movie, right? Things have to move rapidly (after all we only have 120 minutes) and I can’t expect the character development I might find in a good novel. So I can let that go.
More seriously, the discussion of free will in the first film, and the implication in the second that we must “ask Jesus into our heart” conflict with Lutheran theology. God choses us, we do not chose Him, and we do not have free will over our salvation (although we do in other areas.)
The Newsboys are not my favorite Christian musical group, but I’ll include the song for those who enjoy them: