In honor of the recent release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, our friend Nathan Marchand (co-author of The New 42: God Terraforms All Things) brings us a special devotional from his book. This week draws an interesting line between Godzilla and the Apostle Paul. How is it that Godzilla can become a hero? Find out!
Under the video, you’ll see the actual text from the book, The New 42: God Terraforms All Things. This was posted with permission from the authors, Nathan and Eric.
Day 36: Godzilla and the Damascus Road
By Nathan Marchand
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and the people of Israel.”
In 1964’s Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, the fifth entry of the Showa (or classic) Godzilla series by Toho, a princess disappears in an exploding plane. She reappears later as a Venusian (Martian in the dubbed version) prophetess foretelling the coming of giant monsters. Her prophecies keep coming true. Rodan rises from a volcano. Godzilla emerges from the ocean. But the most terrifying of all is King Ghidorah, a three-headed golden space dragon (and yes, he’s as awesome as that sounds) who emerges from a crashed meteorite. This Lovecraftian beast destroyed the prophetess’ civilization millennia ago, and now intends to devastate Earth.
Godzilla and Rodan, though, are more interested in fighting each other near Mt. Fuji. The larva of the insect goddess Mothra is led to the mountain by her tiny twin priestesses, the Shobijin, where she goes full-tilt mom on the overgrown dinosaurs. She covers them with silk webbing to make them stop and listen to her, but despite her reminding the kaiju (giant monsters) that Earth is where they keep their stuff, they refuse to fight Ghidorah because humanity always attacks them. Desperate, Mothra decides to battle the space monster herself, much to the shock of Godzilla and Rodan.
Predictably, Ghidorah’s lightning-like gravity beams toss Mothra around like a toy. All hope seems lost.
Until Godzilla makes a heroic charge.
Rodan, too, quickly swoops in.
By their powers combined (No-Prize to everyone who got that reference), the three-headed monster is defeated and sent running back into outer space.
This was a turning point for Godzilla. After menacing Japan as an atomic force of nature for a decade, he became its new hero. For the rest of the Showa series, he would defend Japan from all manner of kaiju, robots, and alien invaders. Monsters that were once his enemies, like Rodan and Anguirus, became his staunchest allies. By the 1970s, he was practically a superhero.
One of the most dramatic conversion stories in the Bible is found in Acts, and like Godzilla, it came about from an encounter with divinity. Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee of Pharisees (Phil. 3:5). As the Church grew by leaps and bounds, the Pharisees saw it as a threat to their power. So, they persecuted it. In fact, Acts 7:54-60 records the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, after an exhaustive speech before the Sanhedrin recounting the history of Israel that ended with him indicting the religious leaders. They dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death, though he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” and, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:59-60). The story ends with the first verse of Acts 8: “And Saul approved of their killing him.” There’s no mention of him participating, but he certainly condoned it.
He continued to “breath[e] out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (Acts 9:1). On his journey to Damascus in search of Christ-followers to imprison, Saul had a close encounter:
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
He was struck blind—as one would expect seeing the face of God—and had to be led into the city. For three days he ate and drank nothing.
The Lord commanded Ananias to go to the house where Saul was staying. Ananias replied, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name” (Acts 9:13-14). But the Lord makes Himself quite clear, saying, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (v. 15-16).
Ananias went to Saul, placed his hands on Saul’s eyes, and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (v. 17). Then literal scales (suddenly the Godzilla analogy doesn’t seem that weird, does it?) fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. Immediately, he was baptized and fed. In no time he was in the local synagogues preaching about Jesus Christ. To say the people were baffled would be an understatement: “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” (v. 21). Even so, Saul would go on to become the Apostle Paul, one of the early Church’s most powerful evangelists and the author of two-thirds of the New Testament.
Many of you lived lives not unlike that of Saul/Paul and Godzilla. Perhaps you were once an atheist who opposed Christians at every turn. Maybe you were member of another religion. You may have committed horrible sins. I once had a pastor who told me that if it wasn’t for Jesus, he’d either be dead or in jail.
That’s why stories like this are inspiring. God, in one of the great ironies of history, took one of the Church’s greatest enemies and made him one of its greatest champions. He used Paul’s connections, Roman citizenship, and knowledge to preach the Gospel in places no one else could. Paul made several missionary journeys across the Roman Empire, planting churches wherever he went. It’s because of him that Gentiles like me and (most of) you reading this know who Christ is.
The same God who turned a persecutor into a preacher can do the same for you! No matter your past, God can redeem it for His glory and make you a powerful instrument in His service.
To which I say to you, “Go, go, Godzilla!”
Quest of the Day
- Read Acts 9.
- Make a list of subcultures you were or are involved with that are in desperate need of Jesus Christ.
- Once you have that list, do an internet search to see if there are ministries dedicated to reaching out to those subcultures. For example, if you’re a video gamer, look up Love Thy Nerd.
For more information about Nathan visit his website ( http://nathanjsmarchand.com/ )and Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/nathanjsmarchand/ )
For more information about his book, co-author (Eric Anderson), and Nerd Chapel; visit the Nerd Chapel Website ( http://nerdchapel.com/books/ ) and the Nerd Chapel Facebook Page ( https://www.facebook.com/NerdChapel/ )