Monday, August 28, 2006
Eric Liddell-Chariots of Fire
Dear Courteous Reader,
Has it really been 25 years since Chariots of Fire? Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, brought this to the attention of the blogging world last week, and invited fellow bloggers to write an article about the movie's effects on our lives.
Thank you, Michael. Here goes:
My mother took my friend Paul Hesse (Paul, are you out there?) and me to see the movie in the theater when it was released. My mom almost never took us to the movies, and I didn't understand why this one until much later. We were 12 years old, and did not know the story at all before going to the movie. I remember being excited by the race scenes, and intrigued by the 1920s cultural trappings, but I am sure I missed the point.
Now, 25 years later, I assure you that I get the point. Eric Liddell was a devout Christian, and a Scot. It has been said that in his time almost all of Scotland observed the Christian Sabbath, and very little activity could be seen in the streets or the countryside on The Lord's Day. Eric Liddell and his like-minded countrymen believed firmly that the 10 Commandments, including the Sabbath command, are eternal laws that reflect the essence of who God is. Liddell was able to say that he would not race on "the Sabbath," even in the Olympics, and maintain that conviction despite pressure from coaches, fans, teammates, and even the prince.
In our modern times, when even committed Christians are very unsure of the continuing relevance of the 10 Commandments, Eric Liddell's witness is desperately needed. A Christian today will typically say, "I have to work on Sunday," meaning that if he doesn't he may be fired from his job at Stuff Mart. But would that Christian murder to keep his job? Would he lie, steal, or commit adultery to keep his job? No, he would not do those things. But he does not understand that there are 10 Commandments, not 9 Commandments and 1 Principle.
Eric Liddell understood the importance of the 10 Commandments, and was willing to obey them no matter the cost.
The movie ends with Liddell's amazing gold-medal run. But his witness does not end there. Instead, it continued to his departure aboard a ship bound for China, where he served as a missionary for many years. It continued to his internment in a Japanese prison camp, where he died. It continued in Scotland, where the whole country mourned. It continues in its influence on prominent Christians, such as Alistair Begg, who refers to Liddell often in his preaching, and Twila Paris, who wrote a song about Liddell and fellow missionary Jim Elliott. It continues in the life of every young Christian who hears the story or sees the movie for the first time. And it continues in my life. Hardly a day goes by that I do not think of Eric Liddell, either running his heart out in a race for which he had not trained, or standing up to the prince, or preaching in the rain, or boarding the boat for China, or keeping the faith until death far from home.
God used an unlikely director and an unlikely actor to point the attention of the world to a very likely hero. May his memory continue to point us to God and His law and His Son. Amen.
Love in Christ,
By the way, I notice that you are trying to dig up more work for me over at SBTC. Do I need to pay you a finder's fee? :-)
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