“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you are likely well aware of the strange, confusing and even somewhat scary events taking place in the United States. It’s honestly been a very difficult month for me personally. The past year was very challenging in general, but 2021 so far just takes the cake! I’ve experienced the full range of emotions in the past few days. I’m guessing you have also felt joy, sadness or anger (or some combination of those). The primary place I found myself in was a pit of grief. Can anyone relate? Other than just curling up with a cozy blanket and crying, I have found that stories really help me process my pain and bring a change of perspective when nothing else seems to help. Stories are like a warm blanket of comfort for my soul. For whatever reason, this week, Disney’s Robin Hood was just what I needed.
This is a classic cartoon I grew up watching and never really grew out of (like most Disney movies). It always makes me laugh. My husband and I love to quote this movie often. This story fits so nicely with many aspects of life that I am seeing unfold right now in America. While the rightful King Richard is off on a crusade, the phony Prince John takes over as “king” while wearing his brother’s crown. He then taxes the life and soul out of the poor people of Nottingham. His taxation is carried out by the not-so-“honorable” Sheriff. Robin Hood and his companion Little John, rob the rich to feed the poor. Now of course, theft was illegal in Nottingham, just as it is in the United States (I am not endorsing theft). However, the concept of breaking oppressive laws in order to do what is right in God’s eyes is intriguing to me. As Prince John tightens his reigns on the people, they eventually can’t bear up under the tax burden any longer and they are all thrown in jail. Robin Hood helps set them free and is hailed as a hero by the people, while he is considered an enemy of the “crown.” All is made right in the end when King Richard returns. Robin Hood is pardoned, while Prince John, his sidekick snake Sir Hiss and the Sheriff all end up in jail. It’s truly a tale of a great reversal that leads to true justice.
The story of Robin Hood is a fascinating one in terms of what appears to be right and wrong. In general, most of us believe the right thing to do is to obey the laws put in place where we live. Most of us are afraid of getting in trouble with the law. No one wants to get a ticket, get arrested or even go to jail. When righteous and God honoring laws are in place, the right thing to do is to obey the laws. What about when laws are passed that violate your conscience or even demand the opposite of what the Bible commands? What do we do when the laws of the land are evil or when evil people rise into places of authority to exploit others (as in the case of Prince John and the Sheriff)? The Word of God is very clear about this topic: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus told his disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:16-20). Did you catch that Jesus said, “When they arrest you?” Were the disciples arrested because they were sinning and doing evil or because they were sharing about the love of Jesus and performing miraculous deeds? Did you know that “criminals” were executed on a Roman cross? Jesus was convicted by a Roman governor and the Jewish religious high priest. These were both men of law and authority. On the surface, it would have appeared to many people as though Jesus had broken the law and therefore deserved punishment. For all believers out there, we know Jesus is the only perfect man to ever walk this earth! Though he did no evil, he willingly died a criminal’s death in order to redeem us from our sin. The world really is such an upside down place.
Does history remember Jesus as a villain or as a hero for breaking the religious laws of his day? Do we think of Robin Hood as an outlaw with evil intent or as a brave hero who stood up for the poor? Christians who live in countries like China and North Korea, know the cost of living a life for Jesus. In these countries, becoming a Christian means living as an enemy of the state. These believers are persecuted relentlessly by their governments. They are threatened, beaten, thrown in prison or concentration camps, tortured, starved and put to death. Their only crimes are receiving the salvation of Jesus and sharing this good news with other people, so many more can know the love of God. Do you think these Christians are righteous heroes of the faith or are they criminal outlaws? Most American Christians have never experienced real persecution. Social shaming is about all that most of us have encountered. However, with the current climate in our country heating up, we are well on our way to tasting real persecution for our faith in Jesus aside from a divine intervention from God. Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We are facing trouble now. “Laws” are being created daily that violate the conscience, as well as the Bible. Some of these laws include:
- Do not sing in church.
- Maintain 6 feet of space between you and others at all times.
- Wear a face mask.
- Do not have anyone to your home.
- Do not have gatherings.
- Men who think they are women must be allowed to use women’s bathrooms.
As believers, we have choices to make. Will we bow our knee to the god of this world, Satan, and dishonor God or will we take a stand for Jesus and truth no matter what the cost? Jesus promised us that we would face trouble and persecution on his behalf, but he’s also overcome it all. Since he lives in us by his Spirit, we will also overcome if we stand firm in faith. What does this look like practically?
- Sing in church! (Psalm 150:1)
- Give people hugs! (Mark 12:31)
- Uncover your face! (2 Corinthians 3:18)
- Have people over to your house! (Romans 12:13)
- Gather together! (Hebrews 10:25)
- Speak the truth about who God created men and women to be! (Genesis 1:27)
It’s time to become an outlaw to some and a hero to others. I encourage you to watch Robin Hood this week for a good laugh! Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine.” Ask God for boldness to stand for truth in the face of evil. We do not need to be afraid of breaking wicked laws when the God of heaven and earth is on our side. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Let’s fight the good fight of faith! We are victorious overcomers in Christ Jesus. Dare to be a Robin Hood who honors the law of God over the laws of man. All hail King Jesus and “long live King Richard!”