From Russia With Love

I began my annual marathon of Bond movies the other night. I’m a pretty big fan. In fact today I got really frustrated at the fact that no one has released an album with the original recordings of all the theme songs from the films. I had to go through iTunes and look up each song by name and artist and was disappointed to find that about 10 of them are not easily found anywhere on the internet. Have to admit, I’m pretty stoked about the new one that’s releasing in November, Quantum of Solace. With Casino Royale, James Bond was brought to a whole new level. The rugged, yet vulnerable agent is something that younger audiences want to see. He’s arrogant and blunt in his presentation and definitely doesn’t sugar coat anything. This quality is becoming much more prevalent in today’s heroes and role-models. I personally like this character evolution that’s taking place and believe that it’s a positive change from the traditional “man of steel” model that’s raised on a pedestal for all to gawk at. I’m not one of those crazed fans that praises people just for the fact that they’re famous. I would rather have the opportunity to sit down with Bono for 20 minutes over coffee than be given free front row seats to U2 for a year. I want to see what these influential icons are really made of and what they’ve been through in life that’s made them who they are. If I admire someone it’s because they have gained my respect by admitting their weaknesses and have proved to be stronger because of them.

This kind of model is very Christ-like. If Jesus thought that we should have a role model that’s perfect on the outside because that would give us something to strive for, then He would’ve come as a King on a throne with a golden robe and a fat crown on his head. That’s the king that the Jews wanted him to be and He will show those qualities in the end. But the model he gave for US to follow was his fleshly form while he was here on earth. Christ came as a peasant who swept saw dust during the day and made sure the hay in the pig sty was replenished. He was still perfect, but his example to us was one of humility and openness with those he came in contact with. Honesty produces community between people that builds each other up to become more like Christ’s example. Putting on a facade of being “less sinful than thou” only creates dissension and either causes others to feel less worthy than you, or produces disgust and hatred towards you. Neither of which allow room for Christian maturity.

Now, there’s always a flip side. The opposite of putting on a face would be to act freely about everything while using the excuse “I’m just being myself”. However, acting freely can easily be confused with acting sinfully. It would be very easy for me to allow my fleshly lusts and instincts to have an affect on my actions and that be ok with me because I’m trying to “not put on a face”. There must be a balance. One side is very strict and polished that says “don’t let them see your sin” and the other side says “it’s ok, just act like yourself (your depraved, sin-infested self)”. Both of these, in the end, prove to be wrong. There must be a balance of striving for excellence and Christ-likeness yet also being willing to let people see your struggles in an effort to build a bridge of community that will help you both mature in Christ.

This subject points back a lot to the whole “don’t make your brother stumble” commandment that Paul speaks of in Romans 14. Both extremes can cause failure in this area. The “covering up your sin” side causes others to either hate you or envy you, and the “letting sin determine your actions” side causes others to either misinterpret Christianity or build themselves up for being better than you. Either way is causing your brother to stumble. So this means that not only are you sinning(which both extremes usually think they aren’t), but you’re causing others to sin.

As I said earlier, I like the fact that this “tearing off the mask” philosophy is becoming more popular in today’s Super Heroes and role models. I think people are becoming more impressed with people that admit and grow from mistakes than they are with those that act like mistakes should be swept under the rug. We need to learn to acknowledge our flaws and use them in our journey to become more like Christ.

“what you meant for evil, God meant for good in order to bring about this present result”

- Gen. 50:20