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How James Bond Got His Name: Summarizing Effective Ministry in Seven Words

  • 2019 Dec 05
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The trailer for No Time to Die, the latest James Bond movie, came out yesterday. The previous movies in the franchise have generated more than $7 billion in worldwide box office sales

Have you ever wondered how the iconic spy got his name? 

Ian Fleming, the writer of the novels that birthed the movie franchise, was an avid bird-watcher. On a trip to Jamaica after World War II, he noticed a book on birds of the West Indies by an ornithologist from Philadelphia named James Bond

Years later, Fleming wrote to Mr. Bond’s wife: “It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born.” 

However, like a spy novel, there’s a twist to the story. It turns out, an intelligence officer named James Bond served under Fleming in a secret elite unit that led a guerrilla war against Hitler. James Charles Bond, a metalworker from Wales, died in 1995 without revealing his spy past

His family suspects that Fleming used the bird-watching James Bond to protect the identity of the real James Bond.

What Avengers: Endgame earned overseas 

One of the reasons I pay attention to popular movies is that their popularity reveals so much about us. 

Sean Connery’s British secret agent first appeared during the height of Cold War paranoia and offered us the assurance in film after film that the West could defeat the Soviets. In the decades since, James Bond has taken on our most frightening enemies and saved the world with his unique mixture of brash courage and technological wizardry. 

The Westerns of the 1930s gave us solitary heroes who inspired us during the Great Depression. The comic-book superhero films of recent years typically make far more money overseas than they do in America, highlighting the global nature of our economy and the exporting of Western culture. (Avengers: Endgame earned more than $817 million domestically but more than $1.9 billion overseas.

As long as our culture needs heroes, Hollywood will supply them. At least, the fictional kind. 

“It is in the dark where he seems to visit most often” 

Yesterday we discussed the existential crises facing our world and God’s call to demonstrate his love to hurting people. Today, we’ll explore a real-world strategy to do just that. 

The key is to find a need and meet it with the love of Christ. The greater the need, the greater the opportunity. 

The first Christmas came in a day when much of the world was governed by one of the most tyrannical, oppressive regimes the world had ever seen. And yet, that was the dark moment out of all dark moments across all of human history when God chose to send his Son into our world. 

Frederick Buechner says of Christmas: “[God] visited us. The world has never been quite the same since. It is still a very dark world, in some ways darker than ever before, but the darkness is different because he keeps getting born into it. 

“The threat of holocaust. The threat of poisoning the earth and sea and air. The threat of our own deaths. The broken marriage. The child in pain. The lost chance. Anyone who has ever known him has known him perhaps better in the dark than anywhere else because it is in the dark where he seems to visit most often.” 

Rescuing abandoned babies 

The birth of Christ highlights the difference between Christianity and the world religions. 

The latter offer us various ways to climb up to God, or the gods, or whatever they believe to be our ultimate destiny. Buddhists strive to follow the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path; Muslims observe the Five Pillars of Islam; Hindus seek to advance through multiple reincarnations by practicing ascetic rituals and good deeds; observant Jews work to keep their 613 laws. 

At Christmas, by contrast, God climbed down to us. Jesus’ birth to lowly peasants in a lowly stable prefigured his ministry to come: touching lepers (Matthew 8:1-4), going to demoniacs (Matthew 8:28-32), initiating relationships with Samaritans (cf. John 4) and Gentiles (Matthew 15:21-28), and choosing to die for our sins (cf. John 10:18). 

Early Christians followed his lead, rescuing abandoned babies from trash heaps and ransoming slaves and prostitutes. Medieval Christians preserved literacy, founded universities, and built hospitals. Christians in recent centuries worked to abolish slavery, championed civil rights, and took the compassion of Christ to some of the darkest corners of the world.

Why C. S. Lewis wrote Mere Christianity 

I believe God wants us to see the problems of our day as our responsibility. Since we are the only salt and light in a decaying, dark world (Matthew 5:13-16), it is our job to take the transforming light of Christ to those who need it most. 

Effective ministry can be summarized in seven words: meet felt needs to meet spiritual needs. Help hurting people to show them God’s love in our compassion. See their problems as spiritual opportunities. 

And remember that the darker the room, the more powerful the light. 

In explaining his desire to defend “mere” Christianity rather than engage in matters of academic dispute, C. S. Lewis stated: “That part of the line where I thought I could serve best was also the part that seemed to be thinnest. And to it I naturally went.” 

Where on the “line” will you serve today?

Publication Date: December 5, 2019

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Glyn Lowe PhotoWorks, Resized and cropped to 1200x627

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