Aug
02

Accepted in the Beloved

By

(Any terms I use in this blog are for explanatory purposes only. If any have fallen into disuse or are now “politically incorrect”, I apologize and assure you I intend nothing derogatory.)

A few weeks ago my daughter and I stumbled upon the movie “Freaks”, new to us, but evidently something of a cult classic. Made in 1932, the actors were people with anomalies who made up the circus sideshows of the time. By using the real circus performers, the movie caused an uproar. It was removed from the market, and Britain banned it outright. Ironically these actors were not being used as “freaks” but were being themselves with a dignity and normalcy the viewing public of the time probably never dreamed they had.

I’m telling you all this because I just can’t get the story out of my mind. Generally movies explain to you who the characters are. This one keeps asking me who I am.

Where I picked up the story, Hans, a young man who is a midget, is infatuated with Cleopatra, one of the normal size circus performers. She is amused and plays along as if Hans were a toy with no real feelings. When she accidentally finds out that Hans is heir to a great fortune, her game begins in earnest. She agrees to marry her unwitting suitor.

At the marriage feast, it is primarily the sideshow folk who come and sit together at one great, long table. The bride behaves abominably, getting very drunk, putting a drug in Hans’ drink (the first step toward killing him and taking his fortune) and kissing her real love interest in front of everyone, humiliating Hans. Apparently not everyone sees, because a dwarf begins a special ceremony at the far end of the table. (This you may already know because it is the most famous scene of the movie.) He gets on the table with an immense goblet of wine and walks to each guest, giving him or her a sip in turn. In your mind’s eye I want you to see these people. There are the bearded lady and the skeleton man; a woman with no arms and a man with no legs, and a man with neither arms nor legs; other little people; conjoined twins; persons they called pinheads who had tiny skulls that caused both physical deformity and mental retardation. As the cup is offered, the dwarf takes up a strange chant: “Gobble, gobble, we accept you, you are one of us.” Obviously, as Hans’ wife, Cleopatra is being accorded the honor of being embraced by the people of the sideshow, people so few understand. But when the goblet arrives, she pushes it away, screaming that she wants no part of them. “You’re all freaks!” she cries, betraying her true feelings.

The scene won’t leave my mind, but I am now in Cleopatra’s seat. I watch these unusual wedding guests, looking with some discomfort at their missing limbs and other unusual deformities. I think of how some of them cannot care for all their own basic needs and will always need caregivers. And then the cup comes to me. Will I take the cup? Will I identify with these people as ones like me?

I thought I wasn’t prejudiced. Or at least I wasn’t that prejudiced. I’m not prejudiced against blacks, and that’s the big one in the United States, so I’m okay, right? I have a dislike of some people groups, but if I met someone from one of those, I prided myself on putting that aside and concentrating on loving the person in front of me. But if I’m priding myself for coming halfway (or less), what am I really doing? Suddenly I wasn’t feeling so proud anymore.

What happened to the Scriptures I claimed I believed? Jesus prayed,

I have given [believers] the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me. – John 17:22 & 23a

And Paul tells us:

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law…so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law…so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Cor. 24 – 27

But the truth is, when I think of being one with certain people, because of their culture or behavior, I recoil.

Author Steve Brown often writes of his conversations with the Lord. I sense something akin to that as I think of my reaction to the “freaks”:

“So it’s okay for you to look at them just to see what they look like but not accept them?”

Shame on me.

“I came down from heaven to live with humanity. What do you think that was like?”

I imagined myself looking down from a bright and perfect heaven onto the masses of humanity on earth: The smells. The crowds. The soiled clothing. The cacophony. And, as each night falls, the darkness.

More than that, there was the condition of our hearts, every last heart leaving something to be desired. You might say we all had something missing or misshapen there.

“I once shared bread and a cup of wine around a table and accepted every one of you – in your sin.”

Nothing is so humbling as Jesus telling you He already did this very thing for you, and you have been unwilling to do the same. As a believer I share in the new covenant that was made at the Last Supper. In my mind’s eye I see that goblet, Christ’s goblet, making its way around the table that Passover night, a symbol of Jesus saying, “I accept you” when we were filthy in our sin. I would gladly drink that goblet when Jesus is holding it. But I’m only holding it out to select others – not all others – even though He came for every one of them, and I know it.

Seems I have some things to work out with God. And if I ever catch “Freaks” again on TV, you can be sure that’s one movie I will never see the same way again.

Comments

  1. circus acts says:

    amazing I genuinely like your own web-site maintain right up the info I will certainly pop in a number of more instance to see some even more thanks a ton.

  2. Anne Goodreau says:

    I am so glad this blessed you and that you found this blog the day I wrote about the circus. Hope to hear from you again. – Anne

  3. Thank you so much for article. May I drink of the cup if it is passed to me.

  4. Anne Goodreau says:

    I’d say, you’re welcome, Cherrilynn, but everything there came from the Lord using the movie to teach me.

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