April 15, 2018

Believing for a Brighter Future




“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”--Proverbs 15:15 (KJV)

Once in a while, an incredibly faith-promoting movie comes along. It can make us so emotional, we’re glad theaters are dark.  This is the type of show during which mundane concerns are left behind. 

Our perspective broadens. We’re taken to a new level of understanding and joy. (I forgot to turn my stove off. I haven’t checked my social media accounts in three hours. I haven’t vacuumed my carpet in three weeks. Who cares?)

Paul, the Apostle of Christ is one of those groundbreaking films. Let’s look at two messages from it:

1. Look to the Promise, not the Circumstances.

Rome, Italy. Approximately 75 A.D. Christians are hunted by one of the most depraved emperors of all time: Nero. He uses them as human torches and puts them in an arena with wild, starving animals, among other things. He hopes to extinguish the Christian sect.

The emperor blames them for burning down half of Rome. (Note: Many historians believe it was Nero himself who burned the city in order to make room for a bigger royal palace.) Christians are convenient scapegoats, since they’re a new, unfamiliar group. Romans are wary of them.

Paul, the apostle, is imprisoned in one of the most infamous prisons in the city: the Mamertine. Worse yet, he is not housed among the general population. He’s locked up in a dark basement cell by himself. The only opening, and light, is offered by a grate at the top of the cubicle.

Near the end of the movie, Paul’s friend and scribe, Luke, is also incarcerated in Paul’s cell. He is allowed to meet with a group of fellow Christians. These individuals are slated to be slaughtered in the “games” the next day. Thousands of Romans will watch as the defenseless Christians are thrown into the Coliseum with wild beasts.

The physician’s brief message is that the pain will last only a moment, and the sufferers will go on to eternal glory. This is a strong message from the powerless prisoner of the largest pagan empire of the ancient world.

(Moral of the Story: Mighty empires and huge problems often crumble. Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 AD.  In addition, Rome is now the headquarters of the Catholic Church. Irony, anyone?)

2. Life is Fleeting; Change Your Outlook.

Paul tells a brilliant analogy to the commander of the prison. He compares mortality to a handful of water; it’s soon gone. There’s no way to physically keep it in our hand, no matter how hard we try. However, existence beyond this life stretches out like the whole ocean.

(Moral of the story: Are we going to concern ourselves with something we can’t really hold, or are we going to take the eternal viewpoint?)

Note: Next week’s article will explore more deep truths from this wonderful movie. Stay tuned!

My Conclusion

“And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”—2 Kings 6:16 (KJV)

This existence is all about patience, faith, and hope. Whatever nonsense happens to you, God’s unchanging promises still stand.

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Are you focusing on what God has promised?