Monday, May 11, 2009

Wanted: Redemption

Deep down we all long for redemption – to see the broken made whole, wrongs made right, “happy ever after.” That’s why we enjoy stories about puppies rescued from bad circumstances; disadvantaged people receiving a needed break; romantic comedies morphing like-hate relationships into true love just before the credits roll.

Someone has observed Creation, The Fall, and Redemption are common elements of all great films, reflecting the biblical narrative. Things start well, but something shatters the idyllic moment. For the rest of the film, the characters work toward resolving the problem – and pursuing redemption. We see it in movies as disparate as “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Star Wars.”

The film version of C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” introduces us to stark, snow-encrusted Narnia, where it is “always winter, but never Christmas.” By movie’s end, Narnia’s pristine beauty is restored – good conquering evil.

Two recent films also prove the point. In “Seven Pounds,” actor Will Smith’s character initiates a traffic accident killing seven people. For the remainder of the movie, he seeks to make amends by helping to save the lives of seven other individuals.

And in “Gran Torino,” Clint Eastwood’s curmudgeonly retired autoworker sees his lifetime of bitterness and bigotry transformed, culminating in a courageous act that redeems himself and his beleaguered neighbors.

Why this fascination with redemption? I believe it’s because we’re created in God’s image, and redemption has always been His prevalent theme: to redeem fallen creation to its former glory, even going to the cross to die and pay the ultimate price for our sins.

“…our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13-14).

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