|Day 27 of 31 at TWT!|
As Paul suffers in a Roman prison, Luke keeps risking his life to visit him (so often that the Roman in charge of the prison wryly asks why he is so bent on sneaking IN when everyone else wants to escape!), hoping to preserve his life story to share with the floundering new church. At first, Paul doesn't believe he has any more to share, and Luke has to convince him of the difference his letters (which have always been my favorite books of the Bible!) have made already. My writer's heart loved how throughout the action, the movie interspersed moments of Luke writing down the story that would become "Acts", culminating with others in the community painstakingly copying it to share, rejoicing that they got up to 100 copies.
But my favorite thing about the movie was its overarching message of the power of love. Intentional, difficult, relentless love. Love in the face of evil and hatred. Love when you don't feel like loving. Love,
As the early Christian community faces appalling persecution and unspeakable suffering, frustration causes division that threatens to tear them apart. Luke advises the dissenters who want to fight back against the Romans that "Love is the only way," but in the midst of such horror, he barely believes his own words. Paul challenges him by describing the qualities of true love from 1 Corinthians 13:
Throughout the movie, this is the constant challenge: in order to stand out and spread their message, the early Christians must live it. They must choose love. Always. Love that perseveres through hardship, suffering, and cruelty. Love that does not retaliate, but keeps showing up with kindness, patience, and hope.
When I saw Luke's anguish, I was struck by how similar their world was to ours, even though we are thousands of years apart. Suffering, grief, dissent, betrayal, frustration, discouragement: we are never alone in those feelings, but the challenge is set for us to keep choosing love. At one point, Paul looks at Luke and proclaims, "They will know us by our love."
Immediately, I thought of situations where I need to do a better job choosing love when it's hard. I've read all those verses so many times, reflected and written about them, worked hard to intentionally cultivate relationships of all kinds, and even chosen OLWs to help myself focus on loving anyway. However, I can do better, especially in the face of hurt and disappointment, and seeing that idea come to life over the course of the movie was just what my heart needed.
In my most challenging situations, I want to be known for choosing love.