Olivet-Covenant Presbyterian Church,
3 min. scene from the Wizard of Oz:: Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion ask the Wizard…
Last week my daughter, Sydney, got a lot of compliments on her ruby red slippers. People kept saying how much they love the movie The Wizard of Oz and kept referring to them as “Dorothy’s shoes”. That got me thinking about how much I liked that movie when I was a kid, and the lessons it taught me, like, if you throw water on a witch, she’ll melt; I tried that on a teacher or two and it didn’t work. I guess it has to be Oz water.
As an adult, the movie still has a special place in my heart. It still entertains and it still teaches. But the lessons it has for me now that I’m older are much deeper. Like, to really do a witch in, you’ve got to drop a house on her.
I think that one of the things that draws adults and children, alike, to this movie is that it deals with characters who, in some way, become complete. In the scene we just watched, we saw each of them ask the Wizard for what it is that they need to be made complete. The Tin Man asked for a heart, Scarecrow asked for a brain, it is obvious that the Lion needs courage, and though it isn’t articulated in this scene, Dorothy wants to return home.
Those are four things that many people feel that they need in order to be made complete. Our society is teeming with people who feel inadequate. It is also teeming with things promising to fill those inadequacies. Our own modern-day wizards. Yet, there is one person we can go to that is more than capable to fill those needs and make us complete. But before we go there, let’s take a closer look at what those needs are.
Let’s look first at the Tin Man. He wanted a heart. His inadequacy was the inability to love or to be loved. Do you know people who need to be loved?
In Ephesians Paul prays that we would know how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is. We are to do this, he says, through Christ’s Spirit dwelling in our own hearts, through faith. If we do this, what results is something amazing. We will be “filled to the measure of the fullness of God.” Can you imagine how full that must be? Paul is saying, in essence, that we are to have the heart of Christ.
With the heart of Christ, we will not only be loved enough to be satisfied, we will be overflowing with love that will spread out and touch the lives of others. The heart of Christ is not a container, rather it is a conduit. It does not merely hold the love of God, but it allows it to be poured through. It is only selfish, human love that is hoarded. Therefore it is ridiculous for one to say he or she has the heart of Christ or is filled with the love of God, and at the same time, to not be actively showing others love and compassion. Do you have the heart of Christ in you?
Let’s look next at the Scarecrows among us. Scarecrow wanted a brain. Towards the end of the movie, the wizard clarifies that it is not a brain that Scarecrow wants, but knowledge. In 1 Corinthians Paul is writing about wisdom. He writes that there are two kinds of wisdom: man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom. Man’s wisdom is that kind of academically gauged knowledge that some of us will fork out tens of thousands of dollars for. Yet that knowledge doesn’t really make one wise, does it? I’m sure we all know people with a lot of schooling who still don’t seem to be very bright.
God’s wisdom, on the other hand, is true wisdom. It comes from God and is revealed through his Spirit. Such wisdom seems foolish to those without it, because it is a kind of wisdom that is spiritually discerned. For example, those with this kind of wisdom know that all things belong to God and we are merely stewards. So, it is wise to give back to God even just a tenth of what he allows us to have. We do this in the form of tithes and offerings. Yet to someone without God’s wisdom, giving away 10% of your gross income seems ridiculous unless you are rich.
But wisdom from the Spirit doesn’t just help us to make good judgment calls. It also allows us to know God deeper. The poet David wrote that no man could know the mind of God, but Paul turned that on its head and said that we, as Christians can. Why? Because we have within us the mind of Christ. Scarecrow received a diploma, a Th.D or “Doctor of Thinkology”. Yet through God’s Spirit, we have the very mind of Christ. But what about you? What kind of wisdom do you possess? Is it just man’s wisdom or do you also have the mind of Christ?
The Lion is the character that I can identify with the most. He desired courage. At different times in my life I have battled with bouts of worry. I have two younger brothers who are out on their own. They are making their own decisions and I have stood by and watched as they have made good and bad decisions. It is fear of the lasting repercussions of bad decisions that makes me worry most. But it is a lack of courage that prevents me from speaking to warn them, many times.
I simply don’t have the courage to be stern with them and tell them the way they should go. I fear their reaction, I fear that they will resist my advice and push me away. I fear that emotional distance would separate us even more than physical distance has. Other people lack other kinds of courage. Maybe you feel that you lack courage. Courage was definitely needed by the founders of the Church. In Acts 4 we read that Peter and James were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and “empowered with boldness” to proclaim their faith to the Jewish leaders in
That courage spread to all the believers in
This courage is the same kind we see exhibited in Christ when he is brought before the high priest, the Sanhedrin, and Pilate. It is fortitude in the face of danger or peril. It isn’t reckless abandon, for this courage requires that one count the costs. It isn’t steely resolve, because this kind of courage isn’t found inherently within. It is a divinely imparted courage for the purpose of spreading and building the
That brings us to Dorothy. What does she want from the Wizard? To go home. She realizes soon after arriving in Oz that Oz is not where she belongs. She belongs at home, on the farm with her aunt and uncle. How many of us are searching for that same sense of belonging? How many people spend their whole lives trying to find a place to belong? We search in relationships, in material things, in our jobs, in the places we live, for belonging, for that “at home” feeling.
We are made to make our abode with Christ. It is said that “home is where the heart is”. Our hearts long for Christ. Home is where Christ is. He knows that. In John 14 he told his disciples that he would be leaving them to go and prepare a place for them in his Father’s house. Further, he promised that he would return to take them to that place. Until that time, he has sent his Spirit to guide us, empower us, and remind us of the home he’s preparing for us.
We could spend a long time discussing what that place, that home, is like or is going to be like. That’s what we’re doing on Wednesday nights in our Bible study series. But it suffices to say that regardless of the nature of that home, our desire is to be there because we know we belong there. That desire is not something fabricated on our parts, and it is not attainable by us alone. Rather, the desire is implanted by the Holy Spirit and it is attainable only through responding to the Holy Spirit’s call. Any other response will fall short, providing temporary relief at best. The desire will only be completely fulfilled when we are at home with Christ. But until that day, the desire can be tempered by joyful anticipation arising from the assurance that we will join him there. Do you have that assurance?
Like the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Lion, and Dorothy, we all have voids we need filled. Towards the end of the movie the Wizard is revealed to be nothing more than a mere man who tells the four sojourners that they have had the answers to their problems inside them the whole time. That is where our parallel with the movie breaks down.
I titled this sermon “The Man Behind the Curtain” because in the end of the movie there was one thing that tied all the gifts together, one person that granted them – the Wizard. Similarly, there is one thing that ties all the answers to our questions together, though not a man, a spirit. The heart of Christ, the mind of Christ, the courage of Christ, and the home of Christ are all available to us only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Though each one of us may experience the need for one of those stronger than the others, we are each in need of them all. We are usually made aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the world as we become cognizant of a desire for belonging, a need to feel at home somewhere. The Spirit calls us to respond through salvation. Like Dorothy our journey down the yellow brick road starts with one simple goal: to belong.
Along the way, we are made aware of other needs we have. Like the Tin Man, we feel a need to love and be loved. The Spirit gives us the heart of Christ. When filled with the love of Christ, we overflow into the lives of those around us, knowing for the first time what it is like to love and to be loved.
Just as the Scarecrow was aware of his lack of knowledge, we become aware of the limits of human intelligence, the failings of purely logical thought. As we ponder the world and the way things are, the Spirit grants us the mind of Christ. The wisdom that flows forth from the mind of Christ broadens our perspective, allowing us to see beyond our human ability to be rational and giving us supra-rational insight.
And, like the Lion, we face times where we need courage beyond anything we feel capable of. The Spirit gives us the courage of Christ, emboldening us to carry forward in our lives building the Kingdom of God, spreading the Word of God, and preaching hope and redemption to those who are still searching for home.
Who do you resonate with most today? Dorothy, looking for home? Tin Man, looking for love? Scarecrow, looking for knowledge? The Lion, looking for courage? Wherever you are, whatever your needs, the Spirit stands ready to give you access to the very home, heart, mind, and courage of Christ. All you must do is ask.