The Gospel According to Wonder Woman

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If you were not in a coma in 2017, you probably heard about the film Wonder Woman. Not only did it kill it at the box office, scores and scores of people passionately resonated with the story itself. The acting was stellar (especially by Gal Gadot and Chris Pine), the action was as good as it gets, there were unexpected twists, the score was moving, and personally it was my favorite movie of the year. But this isn't a movie review. So why am I writing about Wonder Woman.

Two reasons: 

  1. We highly value culture. As Christians we believe that God is the ultimate artist and author, the ultimate culture maker, and the ultimate storyteller. All truth is God's truth, even if the author didn't intend it. So we can see great truth within a story or film because of God's common grace and we intentionally look for it. “God has not abandoned human culture, and often leaves his stamp on it in the form of common grace that point to the reality of God and the salvation he offers in Christ.” - Culture, a course by Porterbrook

  2. Wonder Woman resembles Jesus A LOT! So much of how Wonder Woman is portrayed, what she does and accomplishes, and the means by which she saves the world reminds me of the greatest hero. 

Let's take a look and see Wonder Woman as a Christ figure. 

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As a child of God, Diana leaves her home in paradise to save humanity from the war that will end all wars, an unwinnable war that is consuming the whole world. 

Jesus, the Son of God, left his home in heaven in order to rescue fallen humanity from the oppression of Satan, sin, and death. "The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world." -1 John 4:14 

Humanity believes they can win this war and Diana's companions even try and keep her on the sidelines numerous times.

Throughout salvation history, mankind either believes it doesn't need God or thinks that it can win the war by themselves (through human effort, hard work, bloodlines, sacrifices, etc.). Even when Jesus arrives, his own disciples continually try to keep him from his mission of dying on the cross and rising from the grave (see John 18:10-11, Matthew 16:21-28, Luke 22:47-51). 

On her way to defeating humanity's greatest enemies, she demonstrates compassion, generosity, and kindness with those who're hurting and suffering.

This describes Jesus' earthly ministry. He ate with the poor, befriended the friendless, touched the untouchables, gave to the hungry and thirsty, and showed unheard of kindness and compassion

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And at the same time she is strong, brave, and sacrificial, defeating a seemingly undefeatable enemy.

Even though he knew the betrayal, abandonment, anguish, torture, suffering, and murder he would soon endure, Jesus intentionally chose the cross in order to defeat the undefeatable enemies of Satan, sin, and death (2 Timothy 1:10, Hebrews 2:14).

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Ares, the god of war, the ultimate enemy of humanity, describes the reality of the war. He cannot force humans to do evil but rather whispers evil and temptations and the humans do the rest.

Ares' description of the human condition, that even in our nature we're sinful, is spot on. Our hearts and minds are poisoned with our sinful nature. We're not inherently good and just controlled by Satan but rather we're slaves to our own sin and influenced and enticed by his temptations (Mark 7:21-23, Jeremiah 17:9, Colossians 1:21). 

Mankind does not deserve redemption. They do not deserve the both innocent and divine Diana. But they are redeemable. There still is hope.  

What we actually deserve is death. But instead we get the innocent Christ and his offer of hope. He offers redemption through his blood. 

Filled with love and compassion for humanity, Wonder Woman defeats Ares. In her final blow that once and for all crushes Ares, she is lifted high in the air, spreading her arms wide. 

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On the cross, Jesus' arms spread wide and filled with love and compassion for humanity, Jesus defeated Satan! "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). 

So go home and watch Wonder Woman. And when you're deeply moved by the film and character, see a shadow of the ultimate hero. Let the imperfect yet close example of Christ lead you to understand, feel, and champion the gospel. Let this film, and others like it, point you to the true and better hero who didn't just risk his life for the weak, suffering, and powerless but actually gave his life so that they might truly and fully live!

SPENCER PETERSON/COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR

 

 

 

The Gospel Changes Everything (Pt. 10): Relationships

We're in a series where we're seeing how the gospel of Jesus affects every area of our lives. Each post will look at how the truth of the gospel changes how we view a certain aspect of life and its implications in our lives.

In this blog series we've been trying to show practical application for the gospel. Many of us who've been at Hiawatha Church for a while do understand the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection but it can be tough work to understand how the gospel actually affects the different areas of our life. That is the goal of this series: to begin to show specific examples of the gospel affecting all the areas of our lives. None of these posts will be exhaustive by any means but we hope they'll begin to help us see the power of the gospel to change every area of our lives. 

"The gospel [in the New Testament] is regularly presented not only as truth to be received and believed, but the very power of God to transform (see 1 Corinthians 2, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, Romans 1:16-17)...One of the most urgently needed things today is a careful treatment of how the gospel, biblically and richly understood, ought to shape everything we do in the local church, all of our ethics, all of our priorities." -D.A. Carson. 

The power of the gospel transforms how we view relationships. Apart from the gospel, our temptation is either to value relationship too much: they give us our full identity and worth (or what Tim Keller calls moralism). Or we value relationships too little: I'm self-sufficient and independent and I need no one (or what Keller calls relativism). 

"Moralism can...cause people to procure love as the way to earn salvation; gaining love convinces them that they are worthy persons. This, in turn, often creates codependency-you must save yourself by saving others. On the other hand, much relativism reduces love to a negotiated partnership for mutual benefit. You relate only as long as it does not cost you anything. Without the gospel, the choice is to selfishly use others or to selfishly let yourself be used by others." -Tim Keller. 

We can probably sympathize with both of these and maybe are tempted today to view relationships in both these ways. But the gospel changes how we view our relationship with others. No longer do we need others to give us an identity (as a mom, a friend, a boss, etc.) because we are given a new identity in Christ, an identity connected to someone who will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). 

In the gospel, we've been chosen, accepted, desired, and kept in Christ, all by God! So we don't need to look outside to other relationships for that identity and meaning. It sure is great to have a church family, friends, siblings, parents, colleagues, and kids love us and want us in their lives. But because of the gospel, we don't have to use those relationships. And if for some sad reason we lose any of those relationships, we're not devastated or destroyed because we know the God of the universe calls us his adopted and wanted child!

And no longer do we need to fear relationships that cost us. Through the gospel we can now move towards people who won't reciprocate our love (at least not at first). Just as Christ denied his own preferences, desires, and even his own rights to become our friend, we too can move towards people and demonstrate that powerful Christlike love. 

I recently was talking to a couple in our Community Group about this. We were sharing how because of the gospel we're able to give up our preferences and wants when we gather. Every aspect of our time together doesn't have to focus on me, what I want, or even what I need. We can spend a whole Community Group gathering pouring into other people, sharing our knowledge/wisdom with others, and sacrificially serving others and it STILL be a successful evening. Through Christ's Spirit in us, we can even find great joy and fulfillment in sacrifice for the sake of others rather than ourselves.  

Because of the gospel, "we selflessly sacrifice and commit, but not out of a need to convince ourselves or others that we are acceptable. We can love a person enough to confront, yet stay with the person even when it does not benefit us." -Tim Keller. It is this same Spirit-empowered Jesus-like love that we see in Stephen's forgiveness of those who're murdering him. 

Because of the gospel, we've been given new Christ-like minds and are able to humbly count others more significant than ourselves and look to the interests and needs of other over our own (Phil. 2:3-4).  When we remember that Jesus did this for us in his life and especially on the cross, it allows us to honestly love others without expecting something in response. 

SPENCER PETERSON / COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR

Living on Mission in Our City This Summer

Welcome to Summer in Minnesota! There is nothing like it. Between the music festivals, weekends at the cabin, late night patio seating at your favorite pub/restaurant, and exploring all our city has to offer, it is one of the best times of year that school kids and adults alike look forward to. 

And even though summers may look different (youth are off of school, most of us take vacations, we move to just one service on Sundays, Community Groups and HLI takes a break, etc.), the Church’s mission of making disciples (and ours as an extension) continues. 

Below are some ideas for us as individuals, community groups, or as a church to live on mission this summer. Minnesotans come out of hibernating, yards are full of neighbors, students aren’t in classes, and the lakes, parks, and streets are full of people. “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” -Ephesians 5:15-16. 

Hiawatha Church, let’s be used by Jesus this summer!

  • Holidays/Celebrations: host a party or get together with a group of friends to attend one of our many summer festivities: Memorial Day, 4th of July, National Night Out, Longfellow Corn Feed, State Fair, Open Streets, outdoor movies, and countless festivals, concerts, and activities across the city.
  • Sign your kid(s) up for a sport or activity at one of the local parks. Then show up. Meet other parents. Connect with other families. Want more ideas about connecting youth sports in the park system with missional living? Contact one of our locally supported ministries: R.O.C.K.
  • What are you good at or excited about? Host it at your home or in your yard. Whether it is an acoustic concert on your deck or porch, a lawn game tournament, a stop on the Lolo art crawl, or an outdoor movie, connect your passion and talents with opportunities to build relationships. 
  • Host a neighborhood BBQ: invite those you know and use this as an easy excuse to show hospitality and meet neighbors you haven’t yet.
  • Enjoy our local green spaces (here's our local favorite). Meet new people or meet up with friends and neighbors. 
  • Invite someone out for lunch after a Sunday service. 
  • Get or make a fire pit: invite people over to make smores and have great conversations deep into the night.
  • Visit your local Farmer’s Market: go often and to the same vendors, learning their names, and building a relationship with them as well as participate in the community that many Farmer’s Markets create.
  • Join a local garden (if you don’t already have one in your yard). There are a number of them in South Minneapolis. There will be lots of opportunities to meet people as you garden alongside others. 
  • Finally, join your church family in prayer. Every Thursday morning this summer, starting June 1st, we will be gathering for prayer with a missional focus. We'll gather at 6:30 am at the church building (and often walk through our neighborhood). We passionately believe that God is the one who saves, melts hearts of stone, and raises the spiritually dead. So as we desire to see our city transformed with the gospel, we start with prayer. Join us as we pray for more conversions,  for God to use us and bless our neighborhood and city, for current and future church plants, and for mission in general. 

Through the power of the Spirit, let’s be a church (individually and corporately) that intentionally moves into our city this summer to reach those who don’t yet know the saving power of Jesus!

SPENCER PETERSON / COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR