As a young boy, I was deeply entertained by the original film production of The Wizard of Oz. There are important life lessons to be learned from this 1939 cinematic success loosely adapted from L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
The film certainly influenced many young children of the last century in America, and no doubt other cultures as well. It continues to be televised every spring – perhaps for its cheerful multicolored cinematography.
Over the past century, some claim that political, religious, and social agendas drove Baum to write this magical story of a young Kansas girl swept into The Emerald City with the help of a deadly cyclone.
The wizard could well represent a former American president bent on convincing his subjects that he embraced great power, when in reality he possessed little power.
History may repeat itself, but let’s limit our discussion to three unique characters – a scarecrow, a tin woodcutter, and a cowardly lion who all befriend Dorothy on her quest to return to her Kansas farm. In my opinion, these three characters can teach us a lot about life.
Let’s take a look at the Scarecrow first – an interesting character who seems incapable of making wise choices and, according to Dorothy, can benefit from joining her in asking the wizard for a brain on his behalf.
Of course, the magician responds to his request with, of all things, a diploma! In my years on this planet, I have come across many with many degrees who may have acquired knowledge, but lack wisdom and common sense.
The Word of God certainly speaks of this need for wisdom. Psalm 111:10 exhorts: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good intelligence. To him belongs eternal praise.
It would be wonderful if everyone would realize that nothing is more important than our relationship and trust in our Heavenly Father.
The Tin Man had a continual rust problem, but his biggest problem Dorothy detected in the film was his lack of heart. Baum’s original woodcutter in the book was not pewter – so its metallic nature probably evolved during an early theatrical production.
Of course, these days we can think of it as a futuristic, robotic phenomenon of the 21st century. True, robots have no hearts or emotions. And a distinct difference between animals and humanity is our compassion for others.
In Psalm 119:1-2 we are told, “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.” Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
The Cowardly Lion certainly doesn’t fit our image of the King of Beasts. In fact, the whole idea of a shy lion sounds pretty pathetic.
Of course, Dorothy rightly prescribes what this beast needs: a good dose of courage. This will not come from a medal or a badge of courage as prescribed by the magician, but from being encouraged by others.
Unfortunately, many are constantly discouraged by those who influence their lives. As Christians, we need to draw courage from our Heavenly Father and those who follow His ways.
Like the body of Christwe must follow the instructions found in Hebrews 10:24-25“And let’s see how we can spur each other on to love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are wont to do, but let us encourage one another — and all the more so as you see the Day approaching.
Yes, these characters were something to behold, and it’s always easy to root them in victory. I am sure they represent many members of the Church who seem lost and struggle for purpose and direction.
I pray that we can recognize those in need, take them by the hand, and lovingly lead them to victory in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord!
Passages to ponder
— Jim Langley has been writing for over 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to approach him as well. As a long-time member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies Columns in 2014, and is now reaching an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Manna Monday. He can be contacted at [email protected] for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.