A Parable of Christ’s love to liberate people from darkness
Recently my wife and I had the privilege to go to New York for our wedding anniversary and saw the Phantom of the Opera. We wanted to see it before it soon leaves Broadway after over 35 years. Besides the excellence of the show in itself, I discerned a powerful spiritual parable (even if you cannot see it live, it is available now as a movie).
I will try to explain through the lyrics of each song in the paid subscriber section below, recognizing that the writer of the lyrics was not intending to communicate the message that I discovered (and thus some incongruities are there). The parable, as I see it, is about two unbelievers and the power of Christ’s love to overcome darkness.
Everything in art does not have to have spiritual meaning to have worth, but the best art is that which resonates with reality. With real life situations that we face as humans in a fallen world. The Bible itself gives many stories that are real, sometimes in graphic detail that may require some careful explanation for children. Some of those stories do not mention God at all. Such is the story of Esther. God is nowhere to be found in the entire book. But it is inspired by God, nonetheless.
Also in the Bible are parables. Fictitious stories that have real human and spiritual value. Jesus used parables often to teach.
There are many great modern movies made by Christians today that are overtly spiritual and meaningful. But there are often works of art Christians make that are more indirect. Sometimes unbelievers produce art, music, film, drama, literature, poetry and other media that speaks truth, even if not religious. There is a common grace from God that allows humans to use their talents for strengthening beauty and morality in society. Of course the same talents can also bring corruption.
When Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations in the Great Commission (Mt 28), He also spoke of national signs that would follow. In Mark 16 He said that we should see the nations who believe to “speak with new tongues.” The disciples who heard Jesus speak of this, would almost certainly connected the idea with the story in their Hebrew scriptures of the story of Babel. In Genesis 11 a message was spread among the people that sounded good, but really was dangerous to the people. Their leader Nimrod used seductive messages to manipulate the people and centralize power so that the Bible identifies him as the first to establish a “kingdom” on earth (Gen 10:10). This corruption of government was due to one language through which his messages spread. So God stops his scheme by making them speak new tongues, new languages that effectively decentralized everything into smaller language groups and cultures.
Jesus was telling us that we all have “Nimrods” in our nations today that have messages that sound innocent to most people but are corrupting culture and harming humans beings. If we do our job, we will help citizens in our societies to speak in new ways – to speak messages and ideas, rooted in God’s word, that overcome those bad messages.
In other words, we must transform the thinking and messaging of culture in order to disciple our nation. This is done by getting a Biblical worldview to the next generation through schools, and to the current professional leaders through adult educational institutions, and to all people in society through art, media and mass communication. To do this well, we have to translate Bible ideas into non-religious language.
Now, back to my observation on the message of the Phantom of the Opera. You may not agree with my interpretation of the lyrics, but if interested, please subscribe to see what I think is profound message of how the church is called to love the world and to liberate them from darkness.