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I love a good action adventure flick. Mission Impossible, The Bourne series, Tom Clancy movies, The Matrix. I don’t suppose you’d pick me, a 50-something grandmother, for that. There are a lot of things you wouldn’t pick me for, but that’s another post! I don’t read much fiction, but I’ve read everything Lee Child has ever written (several times).* Why the interest in shoot-em-ups, which I share with a predominantly male audience of less-than-literary tastes? I think there actually is a literary reason. It’s a simplistic genre, black and white, the good guy wins, the bad guy gets pay-back. You don’t have to think about it much. But you can.
There is always a struggle in these stories, always oppression, injustice, victimization. There is someone deceitful who uses underhanded means to destroy other people or take terrible advantage of them. There is a man or woman of integrity, usually an outsider, someone of unusual power and courage, who decodes a mystery and walks in harm’s way in order to right wrongs, effect justice, protect and serve. There is also someone who needs saving.
Remind you of another story? It does me. I’m the one who needs saving. I’ll admit it’s not a perfect analogy. The action-adventure hero is usually flawed, and the victim usually isn’t. Wrong on both counts. Nevertheless, I cannot walk through the storyline without being reminded that Satan and his minions use deceit and corruption to victimize humanity however they can, and God sent a man of integrity, an outsider of unusual power and courage, to right wrongs, effect justice, protect and serve. When Neo rises out of the phone booth at the end of The Matrix, it makes me cry.
Every story of good and evil is in some way a retelling of THE story. I want it to be my story, too. I want to live in the narrative, not only in my imagination and not only as the victim. I’m being remade in the image of my Creator which means that I can be the hero, too, righting wrongs, effecting justice, wielding God’s power to bring help or healing to others in need. Some people are inspired by Abraham Lincoln or Mohandas Gandhi. I’m inspired by Jack Reacher. (Surely he borrowed this tag line from Christ: “I’m not afraid of death. Death’s afraid of me.”)
Every hero who rescues a kidnapped child or takes down a mafia bigwig is Jesus Christ in disguise. Look for it the next time a man in your life (or a crazy woman friend like me) picks the movie. Just when you think you are in for some mindless, meaningless, comic book action, God might show up with the Gospel. Let Him remind you that goodness is powerful, rescue is real, hope is warranted and there is actually a happy ending to this whole, messy story.