Seeds of faith
As you might have already gathered, I’m a Christian. I grew up in a Christian home with parents that loved God and from an early age taught me Bible stories, showed me how to pray and provided me with a biblical world-view. I generally had a very happy childhood. The faith of my parents was never something that I felt was imposed on me or merely consisted of rigid, irrational rules and commands. On the contrary, it was shown to me as something real, exciting and powerful. My parents always welcomed us asking questions and allowed us to challenge what they had taught us with things we might have heard in school, were told by friends or had seen on TV.
Consequently, we slowly started to build up quite an extensive knowledge of the Bible and learned how it applied to our lives. A lot of it was actually quite easy to understand and whenever we showed any interest in a specific subject matter, my parents happily invested in engaging and fun resources such as Christian story tapes, books, videos and magazines. Strawinsky was one of those resources. As children we loved to listen to story tapes in the background whilst playing with our toys, doing crafts or going on a long car journey.
Overall, I’d say that the Strawinsky series probably isn’t the most straight-forward teaching tool. As it works on multiple levels it’s actually quite easy to miss a lot of the truths behind some of the characters and stories. But as the tapes were playing a lot in the background, my parents soon became familiar with them and then could easily follow up with us, ask us questions and reveal to us some of the gems that were hidden within the stories. So whilst some people might say that the ideas behind this series are too difficult for children to grasp, my response would be to never underestimate the power of stories and the ability of children to learn and understand!
So what are the main teaching points of “Strawinsky and the mysterious house”? What is the message for you, if you’re not ‘religious’, don’t believe in God or never gave it much thought?
The battle for our mind
Towards the end of the film the Globglogabgalab tells Strawinsky:
“The Scarlet Queen is generally acting on behalf of the great Elohim, isn’t she? And the great Elohim told me through her that I need to make a decision about whom I want to serve. Him or the Ratking. Well, but I don’t want to serve anyone. I only want my books. That‘s why I’ve been hiding here.”
You’ll probably agree that our lives are incredibly busy and we’re swamped with millions of pieces of information every day. In order to remain sanity we have to filter out the information that appears relevant to us and ignore the rest. Once we finish our daily work we just want to switch off and get whatever entertainment we can find to distract and keep us amused. Have you noticed the following?
“All public discourse increasingly takes the form of entertainment. Our politics, religion, views, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business largely without protest or even popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.” (Stockman, 2001)
God has promised that “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). The problem is we’re so distracted by our lives, the media and entertainment that we don’t want to seek God. Similar to the Globglogabgalab – we don’t want to make a decision. All we want is our “books”.
The truth is actually out there
I recently came across this very interesting quote from Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Christian minister, who suffered several years of imprisonment and torture for his beliefs:
“It is amazing how many intellectuals call themselves ‘agnostics’ not realizing that this is the Greek word for ‘ignorant’. To be ignorant is a shame when one has the possibility of acquiring knowledge. The Christian religion gives satisfactory answers to the ultimate problems of life.”
Over the last few years I’ve started to discover how many logical and intelligent arguments and evidence there is for the Christian faith. Likewise, when you start to read the Bible you’ll be amazed how consistent its message is contrary to what you might have been taught. I’m actually really tempted to make my next film entirely about some of these proofs, e.g. the historical, circumstantial, logical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The difficult (and often controversial) bit…
Similar to the Globglogabgalab, the Cello and Gulbert Bibberkrall, the Bible tells us that we all need to make a decision about whom we want to serve. The most difficult point for most people to agree with is the Bible’s clear, direct and firm declaration that all humans are fallen, sinful and not good by nature:
“As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3: 10-12)
Modern psychology often says the opposite – humans are basically good and just need to be nurtured and freed. But have you ever wondered why you need to teach children how to “be good” but never have to show them how to be rebellious and misbehave?
How do you explain the evil that you can witness in the news on a daily basis? And how do you define ‘good’? Lots of people claim that they’re basically good – but to which standard?
The Bible’s standard is actually quite high:
“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” (1 John 3:15)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5: 27-28)
We’re often tempted to see our shortcomings (such as lying, greed and bitterness) as fairly small and insignificant to the bigger issues and offenders in life. But a holy and good God would really have to call each of our actions into judgement. If he would simply let most people of the hook whilst still punishing the “worst of sinners” then he wouldn’t be consistent, fair and impartial in his rulings.
Lots of people think that you’re basically a good person if your good deeds outweigh your bad ones. But what would you think if I would try to reason with a judge that I didn’t stop at the red traffic light because I stopped the last time when it was green. Or that I could kill two people because I previously had given life to two children. My previous action should therefore cancel out and outweigh the other, shouldn’t it? Of course, that would be utterly absurd. In the same way, however, we have broken God’s commands and therefore have to face the consequences of our actions.
Here’s another example: If a man jumps out of a plane without a parachute, he will perish because he broke the law of gravity. Had he put on a parachute, he would have been saved. In one sense, he perished because he didn’t put on the parachute. But the primary reason he died was because he broke the law of gravity. Likewise, whenever we break God’s commands, we store up for ourselves his wrath and just punishment: it’s a simple (but offensive) law of cause and effect:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
I hope I haven’t lost you by now – as I mentioned earlier, the issue about sin and our fallen nature is one of the most difficult and offensive for people to grasp. The 18th century English preacher Charles Spurgeon says:
“There is another life; the Lord will come a second time; judgment will arrive; the wrath of God will be revealed. Where this is not preached, I am bold to say the gospel is not preached. It is absolutely necessary to the preaching of the gospel of Christ that men be warned as to what will happen if they continue in their sins.
Ho, ho sir surgeon, you are too delicate to tell the man that he is ill! You hope to heal the sick without their knowing it. You therefore flatter them; and what happens? They laugh at you; they dance upon their own graves. At last they die! Your delicacy is cruelty; your flatteries are poisons; you are a murderer. Shall we keep men in a fool’s paradise? Shall we lull them into soft slumbers from which they will awake in hell? Are we to become helpers of their damnation by our smooth speeches? In the name of God we will not.”
The good news
Having this difficult bit of my message now out of the way, here’s the easier bit:
There’s no way any of us could ever keep God’s commands. We’re fallen and sinful by nature and therefore none of us can live up to God’s standard. God knows that and therefore has taken the punishment on himself through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
In hostage situations the discussion sometimes arises about how much a human life is worth. We struggle to put a value on a single person’s life – what then could pay for the whole of mankind? The Bible is clear that the only thing that can pay for our sins is God himself. That’s why God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life without sin and then could take our punishment on himself.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Whilst we cannot save ourselves, we need to be honest with ourselves and see our fallen state and ask God for help. The Bible promises us that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9-11)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18: 32)
A church of hypocrites
One of the biggest objections against Christianity is that the church is full of hypocrites. Does that invalidate the truth of the Bible or the existence of God? No, it doesn’t. Jesus himself said that we should watch out for false prophets who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. He said that it’s by their fruit that you can recognise them (Matthew 7: 16). So if there are people that say they are Christians but their lives are very different from what they preach or say and there’s no fruit (e.g. love, kindness, peace, hope, joy or patience) in their lives then it’s quite likely that they aren’t Christians. Jesus said himself:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day,‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7: 21-23)
Moreover, we’re all humans, everyone with some sort of problem, issue or sin. That’s why there’ll always be conflict and hypocrisy in any church or organisation. I assume you don’t judge hospitals for being full of sick people? In the same way the church is full of sinners who have recognised their need for help and healing.
“Many people have forsaken the church, complaining that there is too much hypocrisy in it. Business is full of hypocrites, too, but no one stops making money because of that. The relationship between sexes, generations and nations is full of hypocrisy. Notwithstanding, people fall in love, cohabit with children and parents. Nations coexist. How many remain bachelors and spinsters because married life is full of hypocrites? – One place is surely full of hypocrites. It is hell. Instead of not going to church because you cannot suffer those who only pretend to be religious, you had better beware that you don’t go to hell which is full of men with false hearts. In church you are with the hypocrites for only an hour; in hell for eternity. If you loathe hypocrisy then take decided steps to get to heaven, the only place where full sincerity reigns.” – Richard Wurmbrand
Now is your time
The Bible says “seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6) – reading this booklet might be the closest you’ve been to hearing God’s word for a long time. Can I challenge you to not turn away but use this as an opportunity to seeking out the truth of whether God exists and the Bible is reliable with all your heart. As the passage from Jeremiah 29:13 that I’ve mentioned earlier says: God won’t be found if you half-heartedly give this a few thoughts and then move on.
If Christianity is not true and there is no God, then let’s completely forget about it all and “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die” (Isaiah 22:13). C. S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia, said it this way: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
Speaking from my own experience it’s extremely liberating and life-giving to have discovered the truth of God, his word and his salvation through Jesus Christ. There’s nothing I would want to trade with the amount of purpose, hope and security this has given me. Feel free to drop me a line via the Hope Animation website. I’d be very happy to point you into the right direction for where to continue your journey in finding answers to some of the questions you might have. In the meantime, can I challenge you to read the Gospel of Luke in the Bible? It’s generally a very easy read, is not very long and will give you a really great introduction to the life of Jesus.
Further useful resources:
Curious to see the full movie? Get your copy here!
You might also be interested in:
> The Making of Strawinsky
> Miracles – my personal story of healing
> Running the race on spiritual fast-food
> Who is the Scarlet Queen