Apocalypto, Fear, and 2 Timothy

Flint Sky: Those people in the forest, what did you see on them?

Jaguar Paw: I do not understand.

Flint Sky: Fear. Deep rotting fear. They were infected by it. Did you see? Fear is a sickness. It will crawl into the soul of anyone who engages it. It has tainted your peace already. I did not raise you to see you live with fear. Strike it from your heart. Do not bring it into our village.

I was watching Apocalypto, Mel Gibson’s Mayan adaptation from 2006, and noticed a bit of dialogue that struck a spiritual chord. Flint Sky stood unafraid, and proud, as fearful families of a ravaged village passed by on a hunt. But he picked up on how badly his son was affected by the chance meeting. Like an evil omen, it hung about Jaguar Paw like a wet blanket. And of course, why wouldn’t it? Jaguar Paw, we come to find, has much to worry about. He has a son, a wife, another child on the way, and with danger close, all that matters to him could be in jeopardy. But did his father not incur the same risk? Or even more so, seeing as how his standing in the village, and breadth of his family and influence was even greater? Had he not enjoyed a lasting peace for longer, and come to depend for more years on what had always been?

The viewer is forced to wonder why the father’s experience, or personality, has provided him a stoic surety, that the son yet lacked. Now of course, the Mayans had their own thoughts regarding gods, and afterlife, and I would not wish to compare the belief with Christianity at this time, but it was clear from the context of the film that for whatever reason, there was something  Flint Sky believed in regards to himself that allowed him to face the day with power, despite what may come. There was something that couldn’t be taken away, or even threatened, whether by hunger, or loss, or death itself. He had decided long ago that worry would not steal his joy, or determine his actions. It is in this way that God has called Christians to live for Him.

Consider this verse:

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Many are familiar with it, but Flint Sky, the face of a father as he taught his son to not be afraid really brought it home. It became less of a bumper sticker, and more of a decision. This man was choosing to live, as we should, strong and courageous before the dangers of the world. No where in the word does it promise wealth, or merriment, or lack of tumult. On the contrary, what is promised is refinement, tribulations, persecutions. We look around with our spiritual eyes open and see moral corruption, materialism, leaders who have forsaken righteousness for angles towards money, and power. We see the slaughter of innocents for the sake of convenience, or misplaced self-importance. And amidst it all we are called to walk unafraid. If we become poor, or threatened, or jailed, we do so with power. And we teach our families to that end.

Bravely face what is to come; stare back at fear with the armor of God, and do not let it into your home, into your village. Do not let it taint your peace, for your savior has conquered death.

But you must ask, what comes next… to go, therefore, and do what…?

Verse 8-10 says:

 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel

So, despite the fearful  citizens that walk past your hunting party, despite the marauders creeping towards the perimeter of the village, despite the world leering at you with agitated eyes, out to convert your thinking or destroy you and your influence; and even when your throat is threatened by your enemy’s obsidian dagger, you can stand tall without fear, honest in your gaze as you tell your family, do not be afraid. Do not bring it into your home. As for you and your house, you serve the Lord, the creator of all things, who conquered death, and who asks you to call Him father. What could possibly scare you?

Note From the Author

Note from the author

       I have never written a novel before. I have no qualifications that I would tout in order to persuade one to read what I have written here. And to be quite honest, I wasn’t sure of the endeavor ever making it out of my computer file. I did not start with the intension of selling it, or publishing it. Only with the intension of getting it out of my heart, and out of my mind. I needed to clear the mechanism. It was a purge that had to take place so I could snap back into my real life and move on without this obsession looming over every dark corner of my day. As a Christian, I was tired of seeing Christians poorly depicted in books and on the silver screen. It seemed that they were used for target practice mostly, set up to be the punching bag of normal society. They were always the zealot extremist, the racist radical. The hillbilly church goer who believed in Jesus Christ out of a profound ignorance rather than any qualified reasoning. If religious subject matter was the protagonist topic, it usually entailed New Age spiritualism, or apocryphal and mystic acceptance. It was common place to see the doctrines of faith in Christianity be torn down in lieu of socially acceptable religious parameters. The Christians always wanted to burn the witches. The Christians always want to control money, sex, and power. The Christians always wanted to promote war against other people groups.

I studied apologetics on my own through my late twenties and on into my thirties, and it has become an insatiable hunger that I plan on continuing. I don’t claim intelligence beyond most. I am actually rather forgetful, and have to keep re-studying the same things to keep it all in my head. My grammar is terrible, and my spelling is worse, and my tendency to start things without finishing them would have precluded me from ever finishing a work like this in all likelihood. But against all odds, it has surfaced from the depths of my mind and taken what I hope to be a legitimate form of entertainment and instruction. Despite all I had going against it, I had a great respect for the content I was sharing, for the authors I have studied under, and for God’s inspired and holy word. And I set out to portray a true likeness of Christian love, and doctrine, and reason, in a fun and educational way, which could possibly serve to help a dreamer dream of Godly things.

Apologetics is a defense of the bible. It is simply being prepared to defend its authority. But after debates without credentials, and faith without an audience, a buildup of knowledge was aching to get out in some form or another. I realized I could portray a conversion in proper doctrinal context, without the real and rude world kicking against it, and within a medium that causes readers to already approach it in an open minded fashion. It had the potential to at least share how real Christians in my experience try to act. They pray together. They love each other through problems. They read the word and apply it. And they are imperfect, and in need of grace, just as I am. I am so flawed, and am so far from worthy that I really come to the table with nothing. But God has blessed me with some gifts, and I prayerfully and sometimes even begrudgingly try to live my life appreciating and utilizing them.

My hope is that I have used a believable fiction to teach real and teachable truths. I needed to show that Christianity was logical, that the word was special, and that the message existed for those who need to find God. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I dreamed of the haunting characters, and the plot began to form and take directions I honestly didn’t feel smart enough to generate on my own. I prayed and hoped that the Holy Spirit was with me when I was writing this. The basic story was done in about one month, after a lifetime of saying I wanted to write a book, and after no less than ten books started and never finished.

I also needed to present the gospel, in as clear and concise a manner as I could. The manuscripts is  make-believe, but I needed to present a real conversion, and real prayers, and real belief in the bible. I hope I have done that, and I hope I have done it with love.

I would finish  by writing my favorite verse to you, and one that I would encourage you all to meditate on, for the end of the age in which we live is imminent. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling – Philippians 2:12

J.R. Cooper

Johnson City, Tennessee

Touch Publishing

Wanted to plug Touch Publishing at http://www.touchpublishingservices.com/ , and thank them for their support. This is the company out of Texas, that has agreed to publish my manuscript. They are a growing Christian-based company with an array of titles from children’s books, to fictions, to non-fiction and biographical or testimonial titles.. The story we are editing now will be a fiction drama adventure, and I can’t wait to make it public. Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story. I look forward to our partnership.