The Book of Life (part 1)

As many of you already know, the classic movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, produced by Frank Capra in 1946, is usually shown during the Christmas season.  I believe this is a great, inspirational, Christian movie you can watch any time of the year. If you have not seen the movie, I suggest you purchase one or borrow it from a library and view it. It, of course, should not replace the Bible as God’s word, yet it has so many spiritual themes and lessons in it that I could not wait for December to come around again to post an article about it!   So, here goes!

Did you ever wonder why, in the film, an angel by the name of Clarence Odbody would be carrying and reading a book about the adventures of a Tom Sawyer? And why did Clarence give this book away as a gift for George Bailey, (James Stewart), at the conclusion?

Oh, by the way, the movie incorrectly depicts Clarence as once being human, a clock maker, before becoming an angel. All angels are created spiritual beings. They were never human. And they never earn anything – especially wings! Instead, they were created to serve God –  to be ministering spirits to God for man.

Anyway, the movie centers around a character named George Bailey. He was a very good-hearted man who, since childhood, wanted to make the most out of his life. He wanted to go off to college so he could travel the world, build buildings, bridges, and skyscrapers.  But commitments to family, his father’s Building & Loan and friends repeatedly kept him in his small town of Bedford Falls.  He eventually felt so frustrated and disappointed in life that when he faced a seemingly insurmountable crisis, he attempted to end his life. But, just at the right time, Clarence, his guardian angel, helped George witness what life would be like if he had never been born. Clarence, the ex-clock maker, had altered George’s timeline on earth through a vision.

Afterward, George, with a renewed appreciation of life, was finally told that he was “the richest man in town” – not because he had been given more money needed in resolving the problem he had, but because of the wealth of love from family and friends he had around him.

Now, on top of the pile of money – the treasure donation from his friends – was a book entitled, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. That book, by Mark Twain, reminded me of a book mentioned in the Bible – the Book of Life. It is through this Book of Life that Jesus Christ will know who will be living to co-reign with Him on earth after He returns. It will be a registry book of the saints – those whose names are written in it. (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:15).

The Book of Life – if our names are in it – will enable our lives to be exceptionally wealthy – fantastic, rewarding, and creative lives. Our lives will not be meaningless and purposeless. We will have lives for building things, traveling, and who knows what! It is the life Jesus Christ wants us to have:

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

There are unimaginable adventures yet ahead of us. According to the apostle Paul:

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

In comparison, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is about the explorations and experiences of a kid and a friend which, at one point, led them to getting a treasure chest of gold. They returned home supposedly more mature but ending up aspiring to start a life of being gang robbers later in life. That to them was what life was all about. They viewed society as a way of always getting rather than a lifestyle of always giving.

Clarence’s gift of the book was telling George that there is more to life than material things. Had George Bailey realized his dreams of leaving Bedford Falls early on, he would have quickly learned even more that this present world is full of disappointments. He would have faced more than one “Henry Potter” (the villain in the movie) in a society always competing and striving against George. Henry Potter’s way is the way of the world, the way of get, the way of greed, and the way only for the self. It is Satan’s way.

And a major lesson I learned from this film, is that success is in the relationships that you nurture in this life – both with God and with man. That it is indeed better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). This present life, no matter how wealthy you are or are not, is only temporary. It is better to lay up treasures in heaven than on earth (Matthew 6:19).

When you have God with you, when you have the Holy Spirit in you, when you have Jesus Christ as an advocate for you, when you have good friends, and when your name is written is the Book of Life, it is indeed a wonderful life, starting now, and continuing on forever and ever.

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