Saturday, November 10, 2012

Scripture vs. suspense thrillers

Okay, so let’s find some new ways to show the Bible depicts life as we know it, not just the way we imagine what ought to be. To do this, I take us to a comparison between many of the people mentioned in the historical books like Genesis, 1-2 Samuel, and the Gospels with counterparts in our society today. From a literary standpoint, suspense fiction provides a great touchpoint. Think of the intrigue King David’s family gives us. Okay, King David himself plots to send Uriah to his death on the front lines of battle. ABsolom, made popular by his good looks, thinks he can assume Jerusalem’s throne right out from his father’s nose. Sexual frustrations, sibling rivalry, and lust for power made the news even during the reign of a king after God’s own heart. Shift to fiction set in our current times. What do you think author Vince Flynn is trying to tell us about our own political landscape in book, SEPARATION OF POWERS? Once you peel off the layers of plot like peeling the layers on an onion, you find a senator who tries to snuff out the life of the protagonist, Mitch Rapp. Now, unlike a classic Tom Clancy novel, Rapp as a field op for the CIA has a lot of skeletons in his closet as well. The lines between good and evil, right and wrong blur into a grey—just as in our personal lives and in the political newspapers put in front our face each day. For his part, Rapp, who is a wonderful character to love, has lingering feelings for a former lover, an Israeli spy become mercenary. He ditches his wife-to-be on a trip to Italy in favor of seeking to complete some hair-raising, gun shooting business. His girlfriend gets so concerned that she leaves for a time, throws a major conniption and assumes Mitch no longer wants to be with her. Holy Scripture has its share of real suspense and intrigue, too. Think about the Magi getting word from God, in adream, to scoot back home by another road instead of following Herod’s dubious orders to show him to Jesus’ nacent home. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus high-tail it out of Bethlehem just in time to escape death. Why? Herod’s hateful hit squad tramps into town, snuffing out the life of every baby boy under the age of two years. Of course, this follows upon the interrogation session the Magi endured at the hands of the Jewish scribes. Now, I’m sure those scribes did not try waterboarding or using some truth serum to yank the news from the Magi. No, what happened is that they tried using prophecies from God’s Word. And, we know where that led—their fulfillment. Not only was Jesus born of Bethlehem as predicted by Micah 5:2, he was Israel reduced to one, called out of Egypt. (Hos. 11:2) Okay, returning to suspense grippers set in the present, you find some similar intrigue. Take for example Josiah Wolf in Larry Sweazy’s THE COUGAR’S PREY. The powers-that be in Austin, plot to send Josiah down to Corpus Christi as a spy on Juan Cortina’s Mexican armed raiders. And, this follows after Wolf killed his own Texas Ranger commander in self-defense. Every good Western that has suspense in it also has the undercurrent of love. Somehow the protagonist is prevented from settling down with the woman of his dreams—usually a beautiful knock-out that no man can refuse. In Josiah’s case, that knock-out is Pearl Fikes—the daughter of a formerly prominent and wealthy Texas Ranger who was killed by outlaws while on the trail. Antagonists from as high-up as Texas’s government to a few outlaws want Pearl’s hand in marriage. So, does Josiah. What does Scripture show us when King David sends Uriah packing to the front lines? The king is making good on some deal to woo Bath-Sheba into his own waiting arms. Yes, even he whom God considered a man after His own heart broke all the commandments in his cunning affair to entice for him the love of his life. Okay, should I say the next love of his life. He already had Mikal, Abigail, and one or two others in his harem for keeps. Yet, here’s where truth gets even stranger than fiction. And, it’s for our benefit. When the prophet Nathan comes with a parable in his mouth, King David confesses his sin. His sin does not claim his life but is propitiated upon and by the death of Bath-Sheba’s first-born son. Now, in an even wilder and ironic twist of events, foretold over several centuries, God sends His only-begotten Son in our flesh, to endure our emotions, assume our limitations, and die our death—though sinless. Yes, His only-begotten, Jesus Christ—is both God and Man. And, not recognizing Him as the Lord of glory, Pharisees got jealous. Scribes scoffed at him. Sadducees considered him a mad-man, as did his own family from time to time. But, as the chief priests’ enforcement agents captured the Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, they conspired with Herod, Caipaphas and a few other shady lcharacters to bring Jesus to a trial by night. The whole thing was rigged and Pilate was the perfect pawn to deliver judgment. The big coward didn’t do any better. He passed the buck, led from behind, and let the Jews have their way, ordering Roman guards to crucify Jesus on Calvary. That’s where our Lord and Savior turned the tables-not for Himself, not to save His own hide, but for us. He died. He rose. He showed Himself fish-eating, wall-passing alive. He didn’t narrowly escape death like many heroes in Westerns or suspense novels. Nope, Jesus gave Himself to death to conquer sin, death, and hell for us. Thanks be to Him forever. He already seats us through faith in His heavenly kingdom, though we because of our sinful nature deserve maximum security lock-down of hell. We don’t conquer anything. Christ already did away with our sin. So, He makes us more than conquerors. He makes us who trust in Him recipients of His favor.