Read John 8:2-12; Romans 8
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“You judge by human standards; I judge no one.” (John 8:15)
Have you ever read the comic, seen the film, or at least heard of the superhero named Ghost Rider? He is a hero from the Marvel Comics Universe and is certainly one of their more interesting, and theologically challenging, heroes. The story of Ghost Rider is the story of Johnny Blaze who is a daredevil along the lines of Evil Knievel. He was the son of Barton Blaze who was a stunt-man. As young child he lost both of his parents, first his mother and then his father who died while performing a stunt.
Adopted by Crash and Mona Simpson, Johnny grew up and learned to be a stuntman himself. Crash, who was his adoptive father, taught Johnny everything he knew, and the Simpsons became family for Johnny. Unfortunately, Johnny found out that Crash, who had become his father figure, was diagnosed with cancer and was dying. Desperate, Johnny turned to the occult and was trying to find a way to magically save his adopted father from dying.
It is at this point, that Johnny does something that will change the course of his life forever. While trying to cast a spell, he accidentally summons Mephisto, who is basically the devil. Mephisto comes to Johnny and promises that if he only sells his soul to him, and works for him when called upon, his adopted father’s life would be spared. Desperate and afraid, Johnny makes the decision to sell his soul so that Crash’s life would be spared.
The deal done, the pact sealed, Johnny becomes what is known as a Ghost Rider, and when called upon, he turns into a flaming skeleton who punishes the wicked and is forced to carry out the commands of the devil whenever he is called upon. Yet, sadly, while the devil got what he wanted, Johnny didn’t make off so well. Crash was spared from the cancer, but ended up dying in a stunt accident. Johnny feels lost and completely out of control. After all, his soul is tainted…he is forever cursed in the eyes of God. Or is he?
In the film version of the story, another character who was also a Ghost Rider (played by Sam Elliot), gives Johnny a little pep talk before they ride out to fight against the forces of evil. He says to him, “Any man that’s got the guts to sell his soul for love has got the power to change the world. You didn’t do it for greed, you did it for the right reason. Maybe that puts God on your side.”
This quote should make all of us pause and reflect. Johnny Blaze did EVERYTHING wrong. He tried to do everything right, but kept ending up on the right side of wrong. Yet, perhaps God saw past all of that. After all, he was trying to save the life of the only father he really ever knew. He was trying to do what he believed to be right and, in doing so, perhaps that did put him on God’s side. Perhaps his LOVE spoke much louder to God than his naivety and poor discernment.
In this story, there is hope for all of us. Perhaps we come down much harder on ourselves than God does on us. Sure, it is true that we are not perfect and we do not always make the right decisions, but who does? If we were perfect, would we truly be human? God does not love us because we are perfect; rather, God loves us into perfection. There is nothing you or anyone else can do to separate you from the love of God. All we have to do is open our hearts and listen to the voice of God telling us, “I don’t condemn you! I love you! Go, my child, and sin no more.”
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Do not judge…including yourself.
Lord, help me to see myself through your eyes. While I am not perfect, I am being perfected in your LOVE. Amen.