Sunday, May 5, 2024

We Fall for The Fall Guy


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We saw the movie The Fall Guy because the previews looked hilarious. However, even though the film had its funny moments, it was much more serious than we expected. The movie highlighted the biblical theme, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). In the New Testament, the “meek” (praus, prautēs) signifies the humble or mild or gentle. They (not the haughty) will inherit Jesus’s kingdom because Jesus’s kingdom is attained by love, humility, gentleness, mercy, purity, peacemaking, and perseverance in righteousness (Matt 5:3-12). In The Fall Guy, it is the lowly as well who win. The “lowly” are the stunt men and women who do all the extreme sports action behind the scenes with little appreciation and credit. In this movie they fight the powerful and prominent who presume they can destroy others without any repercussions. The stunt men advance by their stunts and their ability to receive and to endure suffering for their art.[1]

The ultimate “meek” person in real history is Jesus, through whom the Apostle Paul appeals to the rebellious Corinthians: “I myself Paul appeal to you through the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor 10:1). Jesus is humble (prautēs). Jesus also describes himself as “gentle and humble in heart” in Matthew 11:29. Mildness or gentleness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:23). It is the way Christians should live (Eph 4:2), the way to restore someone “detected in a transgression” or to correct an opponent (Gal 6:1; 2 Tim 2:25). Wherever “meekness” occurs, “love” is never far away, as in 1 Corinthians 4:21 where “love in a spirit of gentleness” is contrasted with a “stick” of punishment.

Christ’s gentleness is not the outflow of a fearful spirit, but a loving spirit, God’s great compassionate love. Paul has already told his readers about “the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation” and that their ministry comes through “God’s mercy” (2 Cor 1:3; 4:1). He has reminded them of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, “that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). The gifts are “the proof” of love that reaches out to others because of “the surpassing grace” God had given them (2 Cor 8:24; 9:14).

Paul makes his appeal on the basis of God’s compassion, Christ’s gentleness—not on the basis of God’s justice, because God’s justice has already been met by Christ becoming “sin” for humanity (2 Cor 5:21). The Corinthians have plenty of the world’s critical spirit that chooses leaders who in turn criticize and subjugate. Paul appeals through the double columns of “meekness” and “gentleness” because he wants the Corinthians to learn about these aspects of God’s nature. They did not comprehend God’s compassion, gentleness, and mildness, so they found Paul’s leadership style deficient because his aim was to be compassionate, gentle, mild—in other words, loving.[2]

Both the Christian “meek” and the movie “meek” have to fight great evil that is out to tyrannize and destroy them. The Christians at Corinth had to resist the “superapostles” who took advantage of them, dominated them, and even slapped them while putting on airs. They disguised themselves, even as Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:13-20). Paul sought to win over the deceived “meek” ones, the Christians at Corinth, not with physical violence, but with love and arguments (2 Cor 10:3-6). Paul wanted to avoid punishing the Corinthians’ disobedience. He wanted to give them opportunity to change (2 Cor 10:6; 13:1-10). But he appeared to allow God to deal with the superapostles themselves (2 Cor 11:15; Rom 12:19).

The movie “meek” were not so attracted to the haughty evil persons, but they were deceived by them. For the action-crazed audiences, the “meek” were fighting was not for each other to be transformed, as the Apostle sought to win back and transform the Corinthian church, but the movie “lowly” directly fight with the “superpowers” mano a mano. Most of the time our hero, Colt, sought to escape from evil, even as Paul encouraged the Corinthians to escape from the mental hold of the superapostles. The stunt men could finally use their physical prowess for real action and not make-believe scenarios.

Th angel of light appears to be attractive, even as in the movie one’s attractive friends are not friends necessarily. The haughty evil ones in the movie sought also to deceive its world and make the “meek” look evil, while the haughty superapostles at Corinth sought to deceive the Christian church.

But, in both the movie and in the church at Corinth, the “meek” win over evil and “inherit the earth.” Second Corinthians does not tell us what the Corinthians in Achaia decided to do, whether to follow Paul or the superapostles, but we know from a later New Testament letter that the Christians in the province of Achaia acted in a supportive manner by donating to the poor at Jerusalem (Rom 15:26). And other early church leaders recorded that the Corinthian church returned to and maintained their sound doctrine.[3] The haughty in the movie end up destroying themselves, while the lowly are victorious.

What applications might we draw from this movie, The Fall Guy? While this movie is not a perfect parallel, all truth is God’s truth, and this movie illustrates a central truth of God—the meek will inherit the earth. Our reward in heaven from the triune God is great for persevering in faith (Matt 5:5-12). We will “inherit the earth,” “be filled,” “receive mercy,” “see God,” be called “children of God,” attain “the kingdom of heaven,” and receive a great “reward” (Matt 5:3-12). The “lowly” in the movie were also victors. But in our daily lives, while strategy to combat evil is crucial, our first goal should be to transform others with gentle and proactive love.


p.s. Here is a question for those of you who decide to see The Fall Guy: what is the Bible verse that is quoted in this movie and how does it apply in the perspective of the movie?

[1] Redeeming the Screens: Living Stories of Media “Ministers” Bringing the Message of Jesus Christ to the Entertainment Industry, edited by Jeanne C. DeFazio and William David Spencer, includes the life story of award-winning stunt man Bob Yerkes, who concludes “I was mentored by the world’s greatest stuntman who specialized in high work. His name was Jesus Christ. He stood in for everyone up on the cross” (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2016), 61.

[2] These comments on 2 Corinthians 10:1 come from Aída Besançon Spencer, 2 Corinthians: The People’s Bible Commentary: A Devotional Commentary for Study and Preaching (Abingdon, UK: The Bible Reading Fellowship, 2010), 164-65. This book has been reprinted as Daily Bible Commentary by Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007

[3] Aída Besançon Spencer, Paul’s Literary Style: A Stylistic and Historical Comparison of II Corinthians 11:16-12:13, Romans 8:9-39, and Philippians 3:2-4:13 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1998 [1984]), 82, citing Eusebius’ Church History IV. 22; 1 Clement I.2.

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