I admit it - I cried during the opening fight scene of Wonder Woman when I saw little Diana galloping in proud emulation of the powerful tribe of female Amazon gladiators her mother belonged to. Then internal interrogation started: Why was I crying? How had I allowed a multi-million dollar Hollywood summer movie, designed specifically to take my money, affect me so deeply, and barely two minutes into the film?
I knew almost immediately.
It's because I had never seen anything like it before. Just as notable is that I didn't realize that I had never seen anything like it before - or that my soul NEEDED to see something like it - until I saw it. This may sound corny, but it was like tasting pure water for the first time, like drinking fresh water after a season of drought that I had always felt, but had never been able to articulate.
That's why I cried.
Strangely, it reminded me of another moment when I had shed similar tears. It was about ten years ago, on a Sunday morning. Dressed in my Sunday best (which in L.A. means skinny jeans, a cute blouse, and a pair of hurt-your-feet stilettos), I sat in what would soon become my new church - Faithful Central Bible Church. Bishop Kenneth Ulmer was ordaining the church's new cadre of ministers. Women and men, draped in black robes and white collars, stood shoulder to shoulder, facing the congregation from the front of the altar.
One detail stood out, something that I had never seen before: women were being ordained.
This was different from my C.O.G.I.C. background, where men became ordained ministers, while women became licensed Evangelist-Missionaries, which meant that they wore ankle-length white suits on first Sundays and preached the Scripture, but usually only to women, unless they were superstar speakers, which gave them the clout to preach to men. (Now, I'm neither knocking my C.O.G.I.C. roots, nor their interpretation of Scripture. I am who I am today because my C.O.G.I.C. church taught me to study Scripture for myself, to pray, and to ask the Holy Spirit for direction in my life. I'm simply sharing this to give you context for my reaction.)
I sat at Faithful Central that particular Sunday because I sensed the Spirit leading me away from West Angeles, the church that had birthed my spiritual journey with God.
As I sat on that chair (Faithful Central doesn't have pews cuz they're new school), I heard Bishop Ulmer utter words that I knew were directed specifically to the women ministers: "Preach from the pulpit. Preach on the streets. If they don't let you preach from the pulpit, preach from the floor. No matter what, preach the gospel of Jesus Christ!" Essentially he was telling the women to do what God had called them to do, whether a church called it "preaching" or "teaching" or "sharing." He was saying, "Don't let other people's different interpretations of Scripture keep you from being obedient."
Even though these exhortations were directed toward them, I cried. I needed these Spirit-filled words deposited into my thirsty soul. I too felt called to minister: in front of a podium and with my pen.
So in a dark, over-priced movie theatre, I cried as these Glamazon women trained for imminent battle with Ares, the god of war.
As the movie progressed, I found myself praying:
God, teach me to use the shield of faith.
Teach me to use the sword of your word
to slay demons
to fight evil
to usher in your Kingdom.
Teach me how to fight.
Diana, AKA Wonder Woman, didn't learn how to fight until one of the concluding scenes of the movie. She lay strapped to the ground, pinned beneath a metal contraption, forced to watch her comrade/boyfriend die (he's that man who was unnecessarily grafted into the plot of the movie because its writers felt that Wonder Woman needed to be led by a man and then enamored with him).
Tormented by grief and motivated by love, she finally discovered who she was, what she was: she was a god. She had the power, not just to fight Ares, but to defeat him. This simple realization enabled her to instantaneously tap into the power that had always been there.
This cheesy Hollywood blockbuster movie moment sent my prayers into overdrive:
God, teach me who I am in you.
Help me to access the power that you've given me through your Spirit.
It reminds me of this Scripture:
"And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship*. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
- Romans 8: 11-17
*Note: The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture; also in verse 23. (Source: Blue Letter Bible)
In the film's final moments, it didn't feel like I was watching an inconsequential Hollywood summer blockbuster, but rather a glimpse of what was possible for me if I chose to walk in my God-given identity.
I've noticed something about myself throughout the last few years: when I live my life in light of the fact that I am co-heirs with Christ, I walk in boldness and authority. I am not afraid. When I don't, I get my butt kicked by "Ares," and the people who need God's power for deliverance don't get to experience it because I'm fastened to the ground by a flimsy piece of metal.
So today I admonish my sisters to take up their shields of faith and swords of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and to take their rightful places in the Kingdom of God. I'm not so sure it matters so much whether we wear white, ankle-length suits or more revealing gladiator gear, as long as we're clothed in wisdom and humility.
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