What do Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, have in common? Seventy-five years ago this week, these towns hosted the first public release for one of the greatest films ever—The Wizard of Oz.
I love the scene where Dorothy and her friends return to Oz’s throne room with the Witch’s broomstick, confirming that their assignment is complete. But the Wizard rebuffs them. He is about to renege on the handing out of home, brains, hearts, and courage.
Then, in the midst of booming voices, thunderclaps, and lightning bolts, Toto scurries over to a mystical shower stall and pulls back the curtain. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” the Wizard warns. But the game is over. There is no great and powerful Oz. There is only Oscar Zoroaster Diggs from Omaha, Nebraska.
This scene reveals the truth on so many levels. There is nothing to be afraid of—especially when it comes to God. We have been told that God, the “Wizard,” is more terrifying than all the dangers of the world. We know we need God and all that he offers, but we might as soon throw ourselves out his palace window to escape his terrors than to remain in his presence.
Yet, this is all smoke, mirrors, curtains, and megaphones, for Jesus has done something even the legendary Toto could not accomplish. He doesn’t just pull the curtain back, he tears it asunder, showing us a God who isn’t playing games or hiding his true identity.
God is a compassionate, loving, heart-sick parent who refused to keep his distance from us, who decided he would no longer allow his name or reputation to be misrepresented, but would present himself as a mere mortal, that he might enter our sufferings and undo the chaos of his creation.
The coming of Jesus into the world was the coming of God into the world. And the cross of Jesus, in all of its foolish glory, did not change God—he has always been in love with humanity—it changes us. With no heavy curtain obscuring our perspective, we see that God is more gracious, more wonderful, more welcoming, and more loving than we previously imagined; there is no reason to be afraid of him. This is not a fanciful measure of “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” It is the place we call home, and there’s no place like it.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.