Denison Forum – Why has Tom Cruise been recast as Jesus?

The BibleWalk Museum in Mansfield, Ohio, is a collection of more than three hundred wax figures. Its guided tours include the Miracles of the Old Testament, the Life of Christ, the Heart of the Reformation, the Museum of Christian Martyrs, and Amazing Grace–The Journeys of Paul. There’s also a “Dinner with Grace,” a Bible-themed dinner theater on the property.

Many of the museum’s wax figures come from closed wax museums around the country or were bought from manufacturers that had a surplus. Some were celebrities in their previous lives.

For instance, a wax figure of Prince Charles is now Abel, the murdered brother of Cain. A wax figure of Prince Philip serves as an angel. Elizabeth Taylor is in the King Solomon scene, apparently playing the Queen of Sheba. Steve McQueen and John Travolta have roles as well; Tom Cruise has been recast as Jesus.

Journalists and comedians have made fun of the museum for reusing celebrity figures. However, director Julie Mott-Hardin sees a larger purpose behind the publicity they have received: “Deep down, we believe that God sends each person here, so I want to make sure–as much as it’s in me–that they’re getting out of their experience here everything that God wanted them to get.”

Pastor Brunson returns home

Our post-Christian society is looking for significance in the wrong places. We focus on the celebrities in our culture and miss the ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things in God’s power for God’s glory.

For instance, American pastor Andrew Brunson served for years in Turkey without public recognition or acclaim. He was pastor of a twenty-five-member church in Izmir, Turkey, when he was arrested two years ago and falsely charged with engaging in espionage.

For a time, he was held with twenty-one other prisoners in a cell designed for eight. He lost fifty pounds while in prison.

The pastor faced up to thirty-five years in prison but maintained his innocence throughout his ordeal. “I am an innocent man on all these charges. I reject them,” he stated. “I know why I am here. I am here to suffer in Jesus’ name.”

Pastor Brunson was finally freed last Friday. He told the court, “I love Jesus. I love Turkey.” I don’t know a more succinct or more powerful statement of Christian commitment and compassion. He returned to the US on Saturday, where he met and prayed with President Trump.

British court settles British gay cake case

In other news, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has ruled in favor of Christian cake makers. In a case similar to the Masterpiece Cakeshop trial last June, two bakers in Belfast, Ireland, refused to make a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” frosted on its top.

The British court based its decision on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which includes the right “not to express an opinion which one does not hold.” One of Britain’s best-known gay activists, Peter Tatchell, agreed with the ruling: “In a democracy people should be able to discriminate against ideas with which they disagree.”

Prior to their legal challenges, few people outside of Belfast had heard of Daniel and Amy McArthur. In the face of much negative publicity, the two cake makers have steadfastly trusted the Lord.

After the ruling, Daniel told reporters: “I want to start by thanking God. He has been with us for the last four years.”

“The desire of the righteous will be granted”

If you’re looking for significance, you won’t find it in success. History is littered with people who were celebrities in their day but were soon forgotten. But eternity rewards every person who answers Jesus’ call: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Here’s the paradox: When we choose heavenly significance over temporal success, Jesus gives us whatever success is best for us. After calling us to live crucified lives, our Lord promised us: “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (v. 25).

Faithful Christians might live in obscurity, but when it advances his Kingdom, God can elevate our global witness. He can use Turkish oppression or British jurisprudence for his eternal purposes.

And whether the world knows us or not, our Lord will make our lives far more satisfying than we can make them on our own.

Our Father promises us: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Jesus taught us: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Scripture states that “the desire of the righteous will be granted” (Proverbs 10:24).

“For the Lord and not for men”

We can seek celebrity today. But like a wax figure, temporal success is an illusion.

Or we can “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Will you work “for the Lord and not for men”? Will you pay any price to follow Jesus today?

Charles Spurgeon: “There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers on earth.”

 

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