I remember being very creeped out by Maleficent as a kid. The combination of the goat horns with the green goddess nuclear fog that always trailed her was the stuff of nightmares.
Plus, I blame Disney for my aversion to ravens and my tendency to freak whenever I got my finger pricked for blood before I turned 16.
And now after all these years….she’s baaaack!
Looks like Angelina Jolie was the perfect choice for the mistress of all evil – but I am both fascinated and frustrated with the direction the film takes.
Why? Well, call me old fashioned, but I like my evil villains to be, you know, really eeeeevil – as in black-hearted, cruel creatures of irredeemable malevolent wickedness – so that when they are destroyed you feel really good about good triumphing over evil.
But alas, now we live in the days of the Disney revisionist revolution, where the Wicked Witch of the East, Maleficent, heck even Darth Vader are less portrayed as vile and more emphasized as misunderstood victims who are only acting out of their angst.
Don’t get me wrong – the back story is interesting, and overall I’m a fan of the House of Mouse, but this trend of blurring the lines between good and evil reminds me of a very stern warning from the Word of God:
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20).
This admonition was penned by the prophet Isaiah over 26 centuries ago, but is as relevant today as anything else I have read in the Bible.
Our polluted media is called “freedom of expression.”
Our neglect of the poor is called “self-preservation.”
Our craving for what others have is called “ambition.”
Our denial of absolute truth is called “open-mindedness.”
And worst of all, our passive approach to sharing our faith is called “religious tolerance.” To be sure, we should be characterized by love through gentleness and respect for our friends who don’t know Jesus, but isn’t telling someone that they are in danger of going to hell the most loving thing we can do?
But nowadays, we have been conditioned by the back story that “explains” everything. People from different faiths were raised that way – therefore, we should not offend them with the truth of the gospel. But instead of settling into this muddy, lackadaisical mindset, we must always remember that we are holding out light and hope and the free gift of grace.
The truth is this…when we take a stand and refuse to call evil good, there is no way to avoid “offending” somebody somewhere – and our 21st century tendency to evade the appearance of intolerance really isn’t our calling as Christ followers, right? Instead, let’s get back to God’s clear instructions in this area: “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
The word for “hate” in the original language of Greek is only used here in the entire Bible, and it literally means to “shrink back in horror.” In other words, when we encounter the things that are truly maleficent (i.e., working or producing harm or evil), we need to react as if we are witnessing the most horrific thing possible!
Are you horrified at what passes for “entertainment”? Are you horrified when you see the poor neglected, materialistic desires glorified, and absolute truth compromised?
And most of all, does the thought of your friends spending an eternity separated from God shake you to the core of your soul?
If not, then perhaps you have fallen prey to the pervasive perversion of our much-needed good vs. evil perspective. Only God – and God alone – gets to make the call on what is evil and what is good and we would be wise to pay heed to what He’s told us in His Word about the difference. When this is left to fallen human hands, we minimize and justify evil like it was some misunderstood fairy with a victim chip on her shoulder.
Let’s get back to our calling – shall we? So start by taking inventory of the evil in your own heart and soul, and ruthlessly root it out. Have you “settled” for the world’s standards, instead of God’s? And look around you. Take a stand against evil when you see it in the form of bullying, gossiping, cheating or whatever. Speak up for what is right. Do so in gentleness and respect with a motive of love, but don’t worry about being offensive. Most of all, cling to the ultimate message of good that will ultimately defeat all evil: the gospel of Jesus Christ. Set your purpose on THE Cause of Christ, and you will see evil defeated like a magnificent sword through the heart of a dragon!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
God calls us to hate what is evil and cling to what is good – yet sometimes we have that backwards! This week, take a hard look at where the lines have been blurred for you – especially in regards to not being horrified by the thought of hell.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Jesus, help us take off the blinders that have been put on us by the culture, so we can see what is truly good and truly evil in Your sight. Protect us from the temptation to be passive about hell.
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:22. Stay away from every kind of evil.
Get: Lifted. Perhaps you or your friends have seen evil firsthand – personally. For anyone who’s ever struggled with the tough stuff of life, Katie Payne’s story of overcoming a painful past will encourage you to embrace a different future—the future God wants for you.
As a child, Katie Payne experienced the trauma of abuse. For years she carried the shame and pain in isolated silence—self-injuring and sliding deeper and deeper into a pit of despair. Then one eventful night, she discovered God’s deep, unconditional love for her. Lifted is a remarkable story of hope overcoming despair.
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Big Idea: Maleficent is an example of how we tend to excuse and even justify what is evil, but we need to take God’s perspective and hate what is evil – and the vilest thing of all is hell.
Key Scripture: Isaiah 5:20
- Who is the worst Disney villain, in your opinion?
- In what ways have you seen our culture blur the lines between good and evil?
- Does hell horrify you? Why or why not?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?