Monday, February 11, 2019

In Opposition to Oz

Our main Christmas gifts to our kids this year were tickets to see Broadway in Bozeman’s musical production of “The Wizard of Oz,” which happened this past Monday at MSU’s Fieldhouse. Our girls love the story and music from the classic movie and were incredibly excited to see the live show—and they weren’t disappointed, as it was a fantastic performance and a great night as a family.

As we watched the play, however, I was caught off-guard by a line I had never thought about before. It is a line spoken by the Wizard of Oz at the end of the play, after he has been exposed as a fraud but is still offering gifts to each of the four main characters. When addressing the Tin Man’s quest for a heart, the Wizard states, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”

It’s a nice, sentimental comment from the Wizard, reminding the Tin Man that he is surrounded by people who love him—but I disagree with the idea completely…and I think Jesus does too.

Throughout the gospels, Jesus is clear that the goal of life is not to be loved, but to love. You can’t get much clearer than Jesus summing up the law with two love-based commandments: to love God and love others. We can live upright, godly lives and still be despised and rejected. Heck, Jesus was. We’re never guaranteed love, regardless of how we live and treat others. In Matthew 10, Jesus tells his followers, “You will be hated by everyone because of me.” Yet their hearts won’t be judged by that hatred, but by how they respond in love. When we are hated, Jesus’ call is to “love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” There is nothing wrong with being loved, but that should never be the goal of the Christian life. The goal is, plain and simple, to love.

So, you’ll have to forgive me for disagreeing with the great and powerful Oz, but I think it’s an important point of disagreement. And the timing of these thoughts couldn’t be more perfect. In this week of Valentine’s Day—a day of obsession over being loved—the gospels encourage us, instead, to show love.

May we be reminded and encouraged today to be people of love, no matter how we are treated. May an ethic of love guide every decision we make. And may love be the posture that rules and reigns in our lives. To borrow from the words of Paul to the Corinthian church, may we “do everything in love.”

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