How recognizable is the title phrase to you? If you’ve ever seen “The Wizard of Oz” or any of its variants since 1939, it should be recognizable. What are some of the lessons the movie portrayed?
- Evil people will be evil.
- Fearful people will be fearful.
- Given the right motivation, weakness and fear can be overcome.
- Those who hold themselves in control, maintain their control on very tenuous grounds.
- Those who hold themselves in control, are really no different from anyone else.
- It’s possible for anyone to change, but very difficult for evil to become good.
The Wizard was really a normal human that became lost and marooned at Oz. He was proclaimed the Wizard simply because only wizards and witches could fly in the land of Oz. As he flew in by balloon, he was obviously a wizard, and so was proclaimed the Wizard of Oz. In order to keep from being detected a fraud, he had to maintain his authority through smoke and mirrors. He was maintaining a deception caused by an initial misunderstanding due to cultural differences.
When Dorothy appeared, the smoke and mirrors of deception were in danger of discovery. He first required a performance of duty that could never be done. However, when that requirement was fulfilled, he then tried to defer performing his promise to a later time. When his deception was revealed, it became necessary to leave, but not after revealing first that the performance of the impossible deed had already proven the fulfillment of the promise. Everyone’s need was indeed filled, but not by the Wizard, but by the individual in the course of obedience. Even Dorothy’s desire was self-fulfilled, but by the direction of the Good Witch of the North.
So what does the Wizard of Oz have to do with Radical Christianity? It was written during a period of time many consider to be a high point of Christian culture in America. Yet this popular movie had nothing to do with Christianity or Christian values. It’s interesting to note that the only other human in Dorothy’s dream was a fortune teller or huckster. Her mean neighbor was the Wicked Witch of the West. The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion were farmhands and friends. Everyone else in Oz were fabrications of her imagination.
This film presented witchcraft and wizardry as a dream world fantasy. This was an early shot that eventually led to the widespread acceptance, (or allowance), of all things magical. The answers needed were all found within the characters own being. Do you need answers to some of life’s great questions? Look within yourself. You already have the answers. That is the lesson of the movie. It is full of fiery darts from the adversary elevating the soul of man over the need to trust God’s Spirit. And it was fired during a period of time considered to be a high point for Christian culture in America.
What was the reaction at the time? It made MGM no profit when it was released. It was nominated for six Academy Awards but earned only two. It was critically acclaimed, but publicly ignored. The Christian culture was able to stop the impact of this fiery dart with the Shield of Faith and the Sword of Truth in 1939. But that’s not the end of the story. MGM re-released the movie in 1949 and it became a commercial success at that time. What was happening in the world of Christianity in 1949? It was a period of national revival. This was the period of time when the Rev. Billy Graham began his ministry and Rev. James W. Fifield Jr. began the movement that was called “Christian Libertarianism” at the time. The phrase, “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance by 1954 and “In God We Trust” became the national motto in 1956, as a result of the revivals in 1949.
Christianity was basking in a euphoria of judicial success and ignored the spiritual impact of the seemingly harmless fiery darts from the adversary in “The Wizard of Oz.” But the 1949 re-release wasn’t the end of the movie either. CBS brought the movie to the television audience in 1956 and it has been aired yearly ever since. Today, it’s listed by the British Film Institute as one of the first 50 films to be seen by the age of 15. The US Library of Congress chose it as one of the first 25 films for preservation in the National Film Registry. It is a widely loved movie with a subtle spiritual message for young people. “All you need is yourself” and “witchcraft is good.” The ending line: “There’s no place like home” never brings to mind that a Christian’s true home is not this world, but in the presence of God for eternity.
Boycotting this movie is fruitless and meaningless. It’s too popular to make any impact by refusing to watch it. But we need to recognize how the doctrines of the devil have been injected into our culture by mass media even as early as 1939. Our culture didn’t change overnight. It happened in tiny doses. We can’t stop the wiles of the devil from coming at us, but if we know how God protects us by our relationship with Him, our faith acts as our shield.
Ephesians 6: 16 “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Knowing the Word of God helps us build the relationship we need with the one true God. It is our sword. It is our offensive weapon against devilish doctrines being used against us.
Ephesians 6: 17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”
In just ten short years with a world war in between, the focus of the American Christian church changed from spiritual matters that affected lives to carnal matters that appear spiritual. There were still good, spiritually minded preachers, but the church became more commercial in the same period of time. 1949 witnessed the rise of the “mega-minister” of whom the great Rev. Billy Graham would be the model to emulate. He was tireless in preaching the gospel and embraced every possible method to get his message out. It was also the beginning of the currently provocative “prosperity gospel” championed by Rev. James W. Fifield Jr.
The mega-ministers would commercialize the gospel of Jesus Christ and take it all over the world and onto television. The prosperity gospel would equate commercial success with the blessings of God. These were both important changes that turned the focus of the church from spiritual matters to carnal matters and in the process, miss the reality of spiritual changes happening to the culture during the same period of time. The gospel became a series of slogans and sound bites that could attract attention in 30-second commercials for people to tune in to hour long broadcasts on Sunday or two to three hour long crusades during the week. The church had learned to wed itself to wealthy business sponsors.
This is the why how tide of spiritual discontent could rise against the church during the 1950’s, while everything appeared to be secure, so that prayer could be removed from the schools in 1963. Throughout the 1960’s, social discontent against racial inequities rose to such a degree, because the church refused to address the issue itself, that a black minister, (Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.), could be publicly assassinated in 1968. In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled to make abortion legal and openly available. In 2015, same sex marriages became a Constitutional right and in June 2020, (only a few weeks ago), being gay became protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. At the same time, Black Lives Matter, is making the case that racial discrimination is still alive and real, creating havoc with police and municipalities all across the nation and the church is still firmly entrenched in its 1950’s attitudes and lessons.
It still believes that segregation is best, having black churches and white churches, and resisting integrated churches and social understanding at the local level. The church still ostracizes the LGBT community instead of ministering to them in any effective manner. It chooses to ignore or vilify instead of ministering in love and compassion. A convicted murderer can convert to Christianity and get ordained in prison, but gays are considered to be spiritual pariahs. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. Maybe the church needs to wake up from its slumber before it becomes the next target for violent social reform.
We seemed to have forgotten that social reform begins with individuals who care about social issues. It begins with people who love enough to try to understand the real issues behind the problems and are willing to ask God for answers to solve the problems and address the issues that caused the problems. For Christians, it requires a solid relationship with their spiritual Father that is anchored in faith. Faith in the truth of God’s Word from the Bible and faith in the truth of God’s Word that comes by revelation directly to the believer.
When you have that faith developed in your life, you know without a doubt that when God tells you to do something, and you follow His suggestion, that you will be able to avoid problems. Not that problems won’t happen, but that the effects from problems will be alleviated. You will be able to stay one step ahead of disaster. You can lose a job, but have enough fuel saved back to tie you over until the first paycheck of your next job. And you will have a job offer given to you within a few days of losing the last. You could have a plumbing problem in your home, then find the solution to that problem already in your work shed. A solution that you may have purchased only a few weeks ago simply because you had the thought that it may be a good thing to have when you saw it.
When you’re talking to someone, you may be inspired to say something helpful or loving and never know why. But find out weeks or months later that it was something they needed to hear that proved that God is real and cared for them. You will have an impact without knowing you’re making an impact. This is how Radical Christianity works in the real world. It doesn’t affect your chosen doctrine, it simply affects how you treat God. It is all about your relationship with God, your heavenly Father who is also your spiritual Father. Just as you have a physical father that caused your life to happen, you also have a spiritual Father that cares about your eternal life.
The book below was written to help you develop your own personal relationship with your spiritual dad. That is the relationship reflected in this verse using the term “Abba, Father.”
Mark 14: 36 “And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”
This is how Jesus addressed God while He prayed on the night of His betrayal. This is what Paul was talking about in his epistle to Rome.
Romans 8: 15 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
The Holy Spirit is neither a spirit of bondage, nor a spirit of fear. We are adopted into God’s own family of whom Jesus is the first born. God is literally our spiritual Father just as He is Jesus’ real and spiritual Father. We are adopted into Jesus own spiritual family with God as our Father. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot be part of this family. But there is also another aspect of the Holy Spirit that allows us to speak to God just as Jesus did.
Galatians 4: 6 “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
It is Jesus’ own spirit in our heart. This is why we can speak to God just like He did, because He is really is speaking with us and for us when we ask anything of God by the Holy Spirit. This is the relationship my book helps you to develop. You won’t have the same relationship that I have. It will be your own personal relationship that you develop between God and yourself. If you want to have this kind of personal relationship with God, click the link below.
You can become a cultural change agent, you can prove that Black Lives Matter as well as every life. You can show genuine love and compassion to the LGBT community. You can have your own opinion concerning prayer, abortion, gun control, the minimum wage, even the people who you vote for. But when you have a relationship with God, you will also know God’s opinion about all of these issues as well, and how you should approach these issues. After you know how He works to benefit you and your life, it becomes easier to listen and agree with Him. But He never takes your ability to disagree with Him away from you. He will always allow you to keep your free will. This is the God I know and want you to personally know as well. Get the book below and please remember to vote for the book at the Author Academy Award site as well. God bless you and thank you.