Once upon a time in the here and now
There's a television show that my husband and I try to catch every week. We call it our weekly "date night."
Once Upon a Time centres on characters from the Enchanted Forest (think Snow White, Prince Charming, Rumpelstiltskin, dwarves, giants) who have been transported from their magical realm into our decidedly less than magical world, after being cursed by the wicked queen. In their "modern" skins, they forget (for a time) who they are and that they are in fact created for another place.
It's season two. It's a multi-faceted plotline, but suffice it to say memories have returned, and now the folk of the Enchanted Forest must try to find a way back while fighting the evil intent on destroying them before that happens.
Created by some of the same writers who came up with the hit series Lost, clever plots, imaginative takes on old ideas, and surprising twists keep us interested. The idea of a faraway kingdom, valiant heroes vanquishing evil, and great sacrifice stirs at something deeper than mere entertainment.
More often than not, the heroes are those considered the weakest, the ordinary souls who make less than ordinary choices. Every choice has often far-reaching consequences, every decision to use "magic" has a price.
Sounds like another story I know. The Bible isn't a magical fairytale. Its story was, and is, lived out every day by countless men and women, as they strive to return to the Kingdom for which they were created. No easy task.
Following Jesus and becoming His disciple—His hero in this world—is hard, risky work.
"Being with Jesus was dangerous," writes Paul Kroeker in this issue's Discipleship Training Schools feature. "He spoke of being a king and of having a Kingdom; an upside-down Kingdom that challenged the status quo and called into question the kingdoms of this world. No wonder it was dangerous—there were risks involved."
A disciple, says Jamie Arpin Ricci, relates to others "through the eyes of Christ—seeking to both see Jesus in them and be Jesus to them." A disciple recognizes "that, like the incarnation, when we enter into the lives of others, we cannot simply opt out…. What we need to see is those willing to embrace the vocation of genuine discipleship and to live lives of sacrificial service to God and others."
It's not an easy road, and definitely not popular, this purposeful act of following Jesus, speaking life to those without hope.
There are heroes in the pages of ChristianWeek. Those walking to raise awareness about the victims of abortion, cycling to end sex trafficking, offering community, friendship and faith to those struggling through issues of sexuality and mental health. Those coming alongside hurting youth and questioning peers, giving voice to the poor and oppressed.
These are people who strap on the sword of the Spirit to do battle against injustice, who lay down their lives for their friends, who believe in a Kingdom that is here and yet to come.
Fairytales are fun, but you can't beat the real thing. Once upon a time is right now.
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