Amadeus and Common Grace by: Les Newsom

Posted: August 23, 2012 by jperritt in Drama
Tags: , ,

I’m going to date myself and disclose that I was a sophomore in high school when I watched Amadeus. The story unfolds from a largely fictitious conflict between a young, vulgar Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the pious, condescending court composer Antonio Salieri. The dramatic and emotional center of the movie occurs when Salieri, beat down by the obviously superior gifts of the youthful genius, pulls a crucifix off the wall of his villa and throws it into the fire and says to God:

From now on we are enemies, You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because You are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block You, I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature on earth as far as I am able.

Needless to say, my 10th grade mind dangled on the horns of this dilemma: how is it that a Christian can say that following God is so important when there are so many around him who are smarter, wiser, more gifted, more holy than he is? Briefly put, why do the wicked prosper?

It was not until years later that someone reframed some Scripture passages that prior to had made no sense to me at all. Passages like 1 Timothy 4:4a, “For everything God created is good…” and Ephesians 1:22, “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things…” seem to suggest that Jesus’ Lordship over all creation extended even to the expressions of popular culture washing past me every day.

This revelation meant at least two things: 1) I could expect that much of what I was consuming possessed elements which needed to be condemned, so certain was the fallen world’s influence over it. However, 2) I could also expect that the very same cultural artifacts would bear the fingerprint of the Master Artist, desperately needing to be displayed.

So that the chief duty of my discipleship was NOT to be consumed with an overly binary identification of what art was “bad” and what was “good.” Rather, my goal was to learn to think. I was called to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ while at the same time offering ceaseless doxology for all the places where I saw his hand at work in the world.

This was where the world changed for me. Rather than marching into the world with a fearful defensiveness, I could dive into this theatre of God’s glory longing to see all the places where my Father had manifested his hand. Granted, there would be much that demanded rebuke and reproof, but there would be equally much that could take my breath away in childlike wonder.

The ministry of Reformed University Fellowship taught me about the doctrine of Common Grace: the simple idea that God gives his gifts of beauty, wisdom, and insight to all, even those who do not bow their knee to his Lordship. He does this so that his people can live and serve him with joy in the world. Why? So that they can bear witness to the dying world of his impending judgment on the forces of evil and his continued goodness to his people whom he is drawing to himself. Nothing has been the same since.

__________________________________________________

Les Newsom is a native of Memphis, TN and graduated from The University of Memphis in the 1991.  He earned a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson graduating in 1994.  In the Fall of ’94, Les moved back to Memphis to start the ministry of RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) at The University of Memphis.  He soon met and married Ginger Hubbard, a Jackson, MS native and Graduate of Ole Miss with her Masters in Mathematics.  After five years in Memphis, Les was called to The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in the Fall of ’99. In the summer of 2011, Les accepted a position as Area Coordinator of RUF ministries in Arkansas, West Tennessee, and Mississippi (Midsouth) and Alabama.  Les and Ginger are the proud parents of three beautiful children: Anna Grace, ’99, Caroline, ’01, and Luke, ’04.

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