Tag Archives: Mel Gibson

God’s People, part 40: Divided

Read Judges 20-21

“Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, ‘Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.’” (Matthew 12:25 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

MelGibson-BraveheartPart 40: Divided. One of my all-time favorite films was the 1995 Mel Gibson movie, “Braveheart”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this film, if such a person exists, it is the tale of Sir William Wallace who rose from being a Scottish peasant to the noble whom Scotland hailed as the Guardian of their kingdom. While the film has many historical inaccuracies, it certainly captured heart of a people who were seeking to be unified under a single leader who would rule justly with a pure heart.

The film tells the tale of a Scottish peasant who had to marry his wife in secret so that he didn’t, by law, have to share her with the local English lord. Unfortunately, the English discovered she was married and tried to rape her; however, not before Wallace tried to free her. The attempt to liberate his love from the tyranny of the English failed, and his wife was publicly put to death in order to lure Wallace out of hiding.

It did, indeed, lure him out. It was that evil, murderous act that sparked the peasant to rise up into a brilliant noble who would lead his Scots to victory against the English at the Battle of Stirling. Again, no one knows if this truly happened this way or if this is more legend than it is history, and we do know that the battle of Stirling Bridge was missing the bridge in the film; however, the reality is that William Wallace did end up leading the Scots to a number of victories against the English.

Yet, in the end, William Wallace was betrayed, captured and ultimately killed by the English. Why? Because the leadership of Scotland were divided. Some of the nobles prized their land and money over the people they served and chose to side with the English King, while others took the side of William Wallace. A people that are divided among themselves cannot stand, but are bound to fall.

We see the same thing going on here throughout Judges, culminating in Judges 20-21. In fact, the last verse of chapter 21 is, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 NLT) Not only did they not have a king and not only did they do whatever they deemed to be right in their own eyes, but they also fought against their own people who were of different tribes.  There was utter chaos among God’s people.

We can learn from this. When we do not look to Christ as our King, when we do not follow and obey our sovereign God, we fall into chaos. We can look to all of the human rulers we want to save us, we will never find salvation through the world, nor through the women and men who lead it. Our salvation comes through Christ, the one and only true King, who has commanded that we be a people of love. When we choose, hatred, enmity, strife, division, and chaos over LOVE, we are choosing the world over God. Let us be a people who know AND FOLLOW our one, and true, Sovereign Ruler. Let us be a people who know AND FOLLOW LOVE.

“Out of ignorance and fear comes judgment and division.” – David Furnish

Lord, help me to choose you and not become mired in the chaotic fear and ignorance of this world, which leads to division. Use me as an agent of hope, peace, love and unity. Amen.

Where is the Justice?

Read Romans 12:15-21

“Indeed, the LORD will give justice to his people…” (Deuteronomy 32:36a, NLT)

ferguson-free-hugIn 1999, Mel Gibson starred in “Payback,” which was a 1950’s style crime-thriller directed by Brian Helgeland. I say “1950’s style” because it had Mel Gibson narrating his own story in the kind of way you’d expect to see on the classic police television show, “Dragnet”. The only twist is that Gibson’s character “Porter” is not a police officer, but a petty criminal who ends up being double crossed by his former partner-in-crime and his estranged wife. You see, Porter had cheated on his wife who later, to get back at her philandering husband, joined forces with his partner to plot against him. They shoot him (with the intent of killing him) and steal $70,000 from him…money that he, no doubt, stole from someone else.

To make a long story short, and to do so in a way that does not spoil the gritty fun (or perhaps experience is the better word) that the film is, Porter sets out to payback (hence the film’s name) those who did him wrong. He wages a bloody and intense war on his former partner, on his estranged wife and, eventually, on the crime syndicate that is protecting them. By the end of the film you can’t help but wonder what justice, if any, was done. With that said, it totally satisfies the inner need to see the “bad guy” get his in the end. Of course, porter is a “bad guy” who is getting even with other “bad guys.” This is played up in the film’s slogan, “Prepare to root for the bad guy.”

There are times in our life when we feel we have been wronged by our family, our friends, our neighbors, and other people. In those moments, we often cannot help but feel anger and the desire to get back at such people. Even when we are not seeking to get back at them ourselves, we wish that things would happen to them to “teach them a lesson.” We use terms like karma to express our wish for fate to slap them right where it counts and, if possible, allow us to be there to witness the moment it happens. I know that even while driving down the road, I have prayed that the person who cut me off would pass a police officer and get pulled over. I am sure I am not the only one who has prayed such a prayer.

We live in a world that sees REVENGE as justice. When things don’t go our way, when life seems to be unjust and no one seems to care that it is, we feel that we are then justified to take things into our own hands and exact our own brand of justice. In Ferguson, MO, for example, many protesters turned into rioters when they discovered that no charges were going to be brought against Officer Darren Wilson. As a result, a grieving family had to witness their son’s name being frivolously used to incite riots, store owners and community members alike stood helplessly as they watched their neighborhoods burn to the ground, innocent and peaceful protesters ended up having to endure tear gas and no doubt were fearing for their lives, and police officers had to put their lives on the line to try and keep the situation under control! Where’s the justice in all of that? The fact of the matter is that our own brand of “justice” is often not justice. Revenge is not JUSTICE, revenge is wrong and it solves nothing. All it does is create more victims.

If you want to see God’s justice, take a look at the picture for this devotion. It is of an officer who, in the midst of protests in Portland, Oregon over the Michael Brown case, hugged a twelve year-old boy who was crying because he saw the world around him falling a part. He was feeling the weight of the grand jury’s decision and was concerned about police brutality toward young black kids such as himself. In response to seeing the boy crying, the officer asked him what was wrong and, when the boy told him, he asked if he could have one of the “FREE HUGS” the boy’s protest sign was advertising.  JUSTICE is LOVE. JUSTICE is MERCY. Justice is KINDNESS. While the world around is often UNJUST, God is calling us to LIVE JUSTLY, to LOVE MERCY, and to WALK HUMBLY with God. That doesn’t mean that we sit back and let the innocent get trampled over; rather, that means that we peacefully and lovingly stand in solidarity with the oppressed without falling victim to the urge to GET BACK at the oppressor. LIVE JUSTLY and inspire others, through actions of peace and love, to join you in doing the same.

“Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create.” – Pope John Paul II

Lord, help me to spread JUSTICE through peaceful actions of LOVE, MERCY, and COMPASSION. Amen.