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Tag Archive | "C. S. Lewis"

Living Unafraid


By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

In the late 1800s, an outlaw began burglarizing the Wells Fargo stage coach line. The bandit would wait in a narrow pass, and at just the right moment, would emerge dressed in black, a hood over his head and brandishing a double-barreled shotgun. To match his appearance, he had a deep baritone voice that caused his victims to melt with fear. This terrifying gentleman bandit was nicknamed “Black Bart.”

Wells Fargo finally arrested him in an extravagant apartment in San Francisco. When they removed his dark, menacing hood, Black Bart was not seven feet tall, like some of the witnesses had claimed. He was not young and rugged. He wasn’t a bloodthirsty bandit.

He was Charles Boles, a handsome, well-educated, sixty-year-old clerk too timid to ride a horse or load his gun. Black Bart used the most effective and crippling weapon in his arsenal: Fear. But when unmasked, he was nothing people said he was. He was just an unarmed, deep, shadowy voice in a dark empty suit.

I’m not naive; the world around us is dangerous. Yet, the living Christ has shown this world for what it is: Powerless against those who are in him. This doesn’t mean the world will not hurt us. It does not mean that some of the things we fear won’t take place. It simply means that nothing in this world can finally or completely destroy us.

Imagine that your life is a chess match or a football game, if you like. There comes a point in any such game, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, where the decisive move is made. Yes, the game continues, but it might as well be over, as the final outcome has been determined.

The decisive move in God’s universe came at the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Yes, life goes on. We struggle. We suffer. We wrestle with our phobias and try to keep our fears at bay. But we have hope—not fantasies that the world isn’t the way it actually is—but assurance that Christ has overcome the world, leaving so much that would terrify us as an empty threat.

In these perilous times, we do not have to lose our heads. The power we have been given and the love we have been shown flows from the Providence who is larger than our fears, and when we live in Him, we can live unafraid.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

 

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The Great Divorce at DeVos Hall


 

ENT-Great-DivorceLost souls take a bus ride to Heaven. But will they stay? Or choose a life divorced from paradise?

The acclaimed theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce comes to the Grand Rapids market Saturday, April 18, at the DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW. Show times are 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“This is C.S. Lewis at his imaginative best,” said Max McLean, founder and artistic director of New York City-based Fellowship for Performing Arts, the show’s producer. “In The Great Divorce, several of Lewis’ quirky, hopelessly-flawed characters take a bus ride from a suburb of Hell to the outskirts of Heaven. But the tantalizing question the play asks is: Will these lost souls choose to stay? Or do they actually prefer a life divorced from paradise?”

The Great Divorce is a Twilight Zone-like fantasy, an entertaining and moving morality tale about human choices featuring vivid characters drawn with Lewis’ trademark wit,” McLean says. “Lewis wrote, ‘There are only two kinds of people in the end, those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”

The Great Divorce stars Michael Frederic (Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Off-Broadway), Joel Rainwater (The Lion King National Tour) and Christa Scott-Reed (The Pitmen Painters on Broadway).

The Great Divorce premiered in December, and the Grand Rapids engagement is part of a 21-city tour that includes Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and more.

Broadway World called The Great Divorce “a rare and welcomed treat!” and World Magazine hailed the production as “raising questions of eternal significance with disarming ease. Fantastic!” Charleston City Paper called it “a joy to watch!” The Arizona Republic said, “Brings Lewis to life with lively wit and generous humor!”

Fellowship for Performing Arts also produces the nationally-acclaimed hit The Screwtape Letters, which drew rave reviews off-Broadway and appeared in over 50 major cities throughout the United States, including Grand Rapids.

The Great Divorce will play on Saturday, April 18, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $29 to $59. Student seats are $25 (student ID required). For groups of 10 or more (including student groups) call 866.476.8707. Applicable ticket fees will apply.

To purchase tickets, visit www.CSLewisOnStage.com or call 800.745.3000. Tickets are also available at the DeVos Box Office, open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Layer Upon Layer


by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

Years ago my sister returned from the Ukraine after a mission trip. She returned home with a heart full of joy, a head full of memories, and bags full of strange and wonderful souvenirs. She brought me a unique gift—a set of Matryoshka dolls, which are traditional Russian nesting dolls. When you open the first doll it has a smaller doll on the inside, so on and so forth, until you reach a tiny Weeble Wobble deep within.

The outer doll of my Matryoshka set was, entertainingly, Boris Yeltsin. When Yeltsin was opened, there was Gorbachev, then Khrushchev, then Josef Stalin, and finally Vladimir Lenin himself. I now keep all these little Communists boxed in the attic. They are much too dangerous to be let loose in the world again.

The deeper you went within the dolls, the closer you got to the essence of Soviet power, its source and beginning. As layer after layer fell away, and finally you held a tiny characterization of Lenin in your hand, you could truthfully say, “Ah, now I’ve gotten to the bottom of it all.”

Many have tried this same thing with Jesus. We try to unravel him and reduce him. We think we can get to the bottom of who he is. But there is a problem. When dealing with Jesus, we do not move to something smaller and more manageable. As the layers fall away, we move to something greater. He gets larger, more uncontrollable, inconceivable, and more wonderful. We are the ones left to weeble and wobble.

Yet, there is a seed, a core to the historical Jesus as well as the exalted Christ of our faith. It is the element of sacrifice. There at the end of it all, when the onion is peeled, is a cross. C. S. Lewis challenged us to look at the cross, not as a display of godly anger toward Jesus or the world, but as a Lover absorbing the shame and humiliation of betrayal. Lewis said, “Jesus shows on the cross that God’s love is not about violence and retaliation. The cross is the only true language of forgiveness.”

That cross shows us how far Love will go: God, humiliated and bleeding in a suffering mess, bearing up beneath the betrayal of his creation. If you can get to the bottom of that, please let me know. You’re a smarter person than most.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me. 

 

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