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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Favorite Christian-themed Novels 2

#334 Today I'm reading 2 Corinthians 5:21 "God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Here's my second Christian-themed novel for the week: "The Green Mile" by Stephen King.
Theme: Atonement.

What a great book and an Oscar winning movie. Stephen King is an unlikely author to put into this Christian-themed week. Many of his novels are dark and evil; but he can't quite move away from the Christian influences of his youth (e.g. "The Stand" and "The Shawshank Redemption" particularly).

In "The Green Mile" we discover that miracles do happen, and in the most unlikely places. These miracles comes to light along the Green Mile, an emerald-colored tile walkway that leads condemned men from their prison cells to a room that houses the electric chair dubbed "Old Sparky". Times are tough in Louisiana during the Depression, but the guards at the penitentiary do their best to get along with the death row inmate and make what's left of their lives livable. One of the prisoners is a huge black man named John Coffey, who has been convicted of the brutal rape and murder of two little girls. The guards begin to doubt John's guilt when they witness his gentle, innocent spirit, and his amazing ability to heal people and restore life in a very Christ-like way. He literally inhales the disease and evil out of people and expels the sickness in what looks like a cloud of black flies. While the sickness is in him it he feels its pain and the malady is his. But it's his ability to bear the pain and disease of others that makes the novel so compelling. It reminds me of Jesus in the Gospels:

Matthew 8:14-17 "When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases."'

The innocent one who takes the sins of others. Pretty powerful stuff. Now, it's not a perfect match with the atonement that Christ gives us. John's death is not substitutionary or redemptive for anyone other than himself. So there are limits to the Christian content. But the impact of John Coffey's gift is certainly seen in the lives of the guards who encounter him.

And his innocence is similar to the Christ-like character created by Dostoevsky in his novel of Czarist Russia "The Idiot" where a naive innocent comes from the countryside and confounds the nobility of the big city. ("The Idiot" could have made my list but I chose another one of Dostoevsky's novels instead).

So here's a scripture to meditate on in your prayer time this morning:

Romans 5:6-8 "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Keep letting me know about your favorite Christian-themed novels!

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