This weekend, I watched the film Amazing Grace, which has become one of my favorite films. The film is about William Wilberforce and his lifelong battle to end slavery. However, this is not why this is one of my favorite films. The film includes John Newton, as he was Wilberforce's pastor and mentor and his story ties into the whole slavery issue. Newton was a former slave ship captain until his radical conversion by the grace of God. This grace so profoundly impacted Newton, that he penned the hymn Amazing Grace in 1779. It has since become arguably the most popular Christian hymn of all time. So, back to the film, the best two lines in the film are in the same scene where John is dictating his account as a slave ship captain, when Wilberforce enters to speak to him. The old preacher says "Two things I know; they are that I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior." This to me was summed up in the hymn Amazing Grace. The second greatest line in the film is really a question he asks of Wilberforce, "I once was blind, but now I see, did I really right that?" William replies "Yes, you did." With tears in his eyes, John exclaims, "Now at last it's true!"(what is truly ironic is that at this point, John Newton was actually blind!)
As I watched this film, I wept because for some inexplicable reason, it was made more real to me when, in a very moving scene(other than the one mentioned above), Wilberforce sings the hymn in a very clear and moving voice. The words, as I listened rang so clearly in my heart, that I began to cry. That night, as I realized that my life has been a continual cycle of essentially throwing God's grace in his face, I knew that I had to take radical action to change my ways.
Today, I made a connection between the line 'I once was blind, but now I see' and a very powerful scene(and my favorite) from the C.S Lewis classic The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
The scene in question is a scene where Aslan confronts Eustace, a selfish and rude boy from the real world, who has turned into a dragon because of his greed. Eustace vainly attempts to rid himself of the scales, and return to his regular state yet, every time he tries, it doesn't work. Finally, Aslan tells Eustace that he must undress him. And so even though it was very painful, Eustace let Aslan tear off the dragon scales with his claws. After the painful process is over, Eustace is a boy again, and a much humbler, and grateful boy than before. Eustace finally understood that he needed Aslan to do it for him, because only he could change him.
This is a beautiful picture of what Jesus does for us. Aslan represents Jesus in the Chronicles of Narnia, and is the perfect allegory for how we need Jesus to remove the scales over our hearts and eyes so that we may see the truth about ourselves, and about him. Without the fierce love of Aslan, Eustace could not begin to understand his need for Aslan to remove the scales, so that he might begin to really live. We are no different. Sin has blinded our hearts to our condition, and our need for a savior. The scales are so thick over our eyes, that we have no hope of saving or changing ourselves. Instead, we must let the Lion of Judah tear the scales away, however painful it will be. This is what Jesus does by his grace. He allows us to see that we are sinners and that we desperately need a Savior. Even after we are saved, the great Lion must continually tear away scales to change us and transform us through the process of sanctification. This makes grace that amazing! The question I have to ask myself is: Am I willing for the lion to tear away at me? Jesus, tear the scales away!
Sunday, November 21, 2010