This weekend, in the midst of doing some thinking and reading about fear, we saw V For Vendetta. I loved it. It was everything we've come to expect from The Wachowski Brothers: moving, violent, political and spiritual, all at the same time. (I'm definitely going to need to read the original graphic novel.)
But back to the idea of fear...
'Dying to self' means many things. I'm starting to see that one thing it means is 'dying to fear.'
What keeps us from following Jesus?
Following Jesus? You mean, really following Jesus? Yes.
You mean the "sell your house, sell your suv, sell your stocks, sell your security and give it to the poor" kind of following Jesus? Yes.
You mean the "leave the boat, the nets and your dear old dad" kind of following Jesus? Yes.
You mean that kind of following Jesus? Yes.
But, what would happen to my <career, house, family, money, reputation, future, stuff>? (Choose your current favorite.)
Fear places us in an untenable conflict. We know we should, but we can't. So we don't. Instead, we change the reality of what it means to follow Jesus into something less frightening. Then we do that.
In V for Vendetta, we resonated with a number of spiritual parallels, all dealing in one way or another with the idea of fear.
In what was for me the most powerful sequence of the movie, Evey (Natalie Portman's character) is faced with a choice. For the last time, she must choose between betraying V, or forfeiting her own life. Will she do it? Calmly she replies, "No." The response from her 'captor' is quietly earth-shattering. "Then you have no fear anymore. You are completely free." She has seen through her fear, moved past it, and it no longer has any hold on her. She has died to it. Without spoiling it for you, Evey ends up in the rain, in what I saw as a baptism of sorts, and reflects ecstatically, "God is in the rain."
Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth."
Surely God is indeed in the rain.
One other powerful scene for me was V's (Hugo Weaving's character) escape from his own 'prison'.
To do so he must go through the fire, but he is not destroyed by it. If anything, he is created by it.
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel
Both characters must choose to escape their own prisons. In doing so they die to their own fears and find that they have become fully alive.
I must not fear.
Fear is the Mind-Killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past
I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
Can we truly follow Jesus? To do so we must walk through the fire, we must find God in the rain, and we must die to ourselves and our fears.