An emissary of the King, wrongly accused of cloaked aggression by the one he was sent to, exiled to a trackless waste, attacked by enemies, tries to return Home while protecting the one that is the reason he is being attacked, succeeds in making his way to the house of mud, where the ship he expected is not to be seen, and perishes in a final combat, knowing that he lives forever.
Deep down inside every human being the Truth that God placed there, the true Light that enlightens everyone who comes into the world (John 1:9), remains for each one to discover. It shines in the darkness of human ignorance, and though that darkness cannot comprehend it, it also cannot extinguish it. (cf. John 1:5).
The Truth revealed openly and fully only by Jesus Christ in His person, His teachings, His ministry, His miracles and His victory over death, that Truth being instilled in the depths of every human being, still shines through, shedding Light in every culture, even in those ignorant of Christ.
Yet the Truth does shine in the non-Christian world, in every culture. That's the way God is. He's faithful. He wants everyone to be saved, though only if they want it too. The challenge of the true missionary to the non-Christian world is to be able to find those sparks of God's Truth in their pagan traditions and, without admitting anything unchangeable by grace, to build on these native "old testaments" wherever they turn up.
As an Orientalist by training and inclination, I watch a lot of East Asian films. Recently I bought a copy of the Korean film Musa the Warrior. After viewing it for the first time, I waited a couple of weeks and watched it again this weekend. It is a very good film, historically, a realistic portrayal of a violent time in the history of China, the period when the Ming dynasty was liberating the country from Mongol control, around AD 1375. It's about a Korean delegation that was wrongly accused of spying by the Ming and exiled to the Gobi Desert. Their adventure in escaping, trying to return to Korea, and helping to rescue a Ming princess from the Mongols, is the subject of the film. It may not sound interesting, but it is.
Watching it a second time, I got a lot more into the details and my understanding was deepened. My favorite character is the young General Choi Jung (pictured above), and I was startled by one scene near the end of the movie. Something that Choi Jung said to his men, just before their last battle, really hit me, went through me like a lance.
If the soldier attempts to live, he'll die.
but if he attempts to die, he'll survive.
The film is in Korean with English subtitles, and the translation is awkward. But the way Choi Jung looked when he said this, somehow brought the whole meaning of the film, for me, into sharp, burning focus.
In the pre-Christian Korean culture, here was a man shedding the true Light on his fellow men. They all had this Light in them, otherwise his words could not have had the effect they did. Without knowing it, he almost quoted Luke 17:33:
Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
This is the Truth speaking.
Everyone knows it.
It always encourages me to see this kind of thing in a movie because, whether people realize it or not, the seeds are there to be planted in the good soil. Let's hope that we're part of that good soil, to hear the Word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown. (Mark 4:20)