Not-So-Lone Christians

July 19th, 2013
Image courtesy Walt Disney Pictures

The Lone Ranger went on his first ride through the Old West on a radio program back in 1933. Since then he has become a staple American hero, along with his partner, Tonto, and white stallion, Silver. The character has appeared in various mediums over the last 80 years: novels, comic books, a successful television show in the 1950s, a 2003 TV movie that failed to launch a new TV series, and several feature films all chronicling the masked rider’s adventures.

Now Walt Disney Pictures has enlisted the help of Pirates of the Caribbean filmmakers, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, to bring The Lone Ranger back to the big screen for a summer blockbuster experience starring Armie Hammer as John Reid (the Lone Ranger) and Johnny Depp as Tonto. When a greedy railroad tycoon threatens to steamroll the West and enslave innocent citizens, lawman John Reid, who is presumed dead, must hide his true identity under a mask and become The Lone Ranger—a symbol of justice, committed to fighting wrongdoers any way he can. Along the way, he teams up with Tonto, a quirky Native American spirit warrior who sees potential in Reid and hopes that, in spite of their differences, they can work together to take down the ruthless outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner).

Strength in Cooperation

While prior interpretations of The Lone Ranger story have explored the dynamics between the lawman and his Comanche companion, the casting of Depp, the film’s biggest star, as the Native American Tonto in Verbinski’s film puts the partnership front and center. Having an unlikely and tense alliance from the beginning, the pair learn that the old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” doesn’t carry much weight in a life-or-death fight. Instead, The Lone Ranger and Tonto must learn to work together as equal partners if they hope to defeat the ruthless villains bent on grabbing power and money from the developing West. Like the legendary heroes, we are also called to seek out companions to help us tackle life’s challenges. We cannot face every struggle on our own—nor does God want us to suffer in isolation—when a community of love and support is available to encourage us and keep us accountable. As in The Lone Ranger, our closest companions might initially not be those we expect. We may meet them in surprising or ways, and they may force us to change our ideas and perspectives.

Not-So-Lone Christian Rangers

When you consider the role of partnership in the Lone Ranger story, maybe the name Lone Ranger is a misnomer. The masked man can’t fight for justice on his own. Likewise, we can’t do the work of God’s kingdom by ourselves. When we come together, we create a webbed community of faith and support that is much greater than whatever any of us could provide individually. Paul wrote to the church in Galatia, “Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too. Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).

Walking in faith is difficult; and while it will never be an easy and effortless road, we are not alone. If we make time to aid those around us, to listen to their cries and offer faithful reassurance, then we will have plenty of companions standing at the ready to return the favor when we struggle. This web of Christian companionship doesn’t stop there, either. Companions in Christ build an energized community eager to reach into dark corners and, like The Lone Ranger and Tonto, help bring justice into God’s world.

This article is also published as part of LinC, a weekly digital resource for youth small groups and Sunday school classes. The complete study guide can be purchased and downloaded here.

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