One of my all-time favorite movies is the The Princess Bride. I’ve mentioned it before. There are so many quotable lines… and I mean it.
If you just smiled and finished that line with, “Anybody want a peanut?” then you are officially one of my favorite people today. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then just read on.
The other day I was channel surfing and came upon the movie right at the scene where Westley says something to Princess Buttercup that got me thinking.
Westley is posing as the Dread Pirate Roberts, and Princess Buttercup asks him who he is. Westley responds, “I am no one to be trifled with. That is all you ever need to know.” I don’t know if I ever thought much about that quote before. It’s not a particularly attractive or clever line, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. And this is why:
Westley wanted Buttercup to obey him at that moment, and fear was the very best way to do it. Or so it seemed.
But the movie The Princess Bride is a love story. And it is love – not fear – that makes Buttercup throw herself tumbling down a mountain side and then follow Westley right into the fire swamp. Fear is no match for love and never has been.
God could very easily be like the Dread Pirate Roberts. Why wouldn’t he? Why not reveal himself to us and say, “Do you want to know who I am? I am no one to be trifled with. That is all you ever need to know.” Indeed.
I find it interesting that a lot of atheists seem to want God to be like that. “If God wants me to believe in him, why doesn’t he make himself unmistakable? Why doesn’t he reveal himself with power?”
But God comes to us much more nuanced. He incarnated as a carpenter’s son – not some rendition of Thor from a comic strip. In doing so, God gives us more of himself than just his power. He allows us to get close enough to him to know him. And he gets close enough to us to love us. He doesn’t demand that we fear him, although he easily could. Instead he invites us to know him and then love him. And when you fall in love with Jesus you will follow him anywhere. Because when it comes to motivation, fear is no match for love and never has been.