Magnum Opus

“I have no clue what that means,” I thought to myself! I was in our weekly Sermon Club where all of our church staff listens to the theme of an upcoming message and collectively provides their input and perspective on the proposed message. One of our Elders, “Bear” (that is such a cool nickname), was giving us a general overview of his message. He started losing me when he mentioned “Charlotte’s Web,” but drew me back in when he said the words Magnum Opus. As a Marine, I’m not a “big word” guy. In my mind, I sort of knew what the phrase meant, but close only counts in horseshoes and grenades, so I consulted my old standby, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. It defined the term “magnum opus” as “a great work” or “the greatest achievement of an artist or writer.”

While I can neither confirm nor deny that I watched the (2006) movie version of Charlotte’s Web, the plot revolves around a promise made by Charlotte the spider to Wilbur, a runt piglet, to keep him from the fate of spring piglets. That fate was the smokehouse! Throughout the movie, she weaves several webs with descriptive words that draw attention to Wilbur. The result was his deliverance from the smokehouse and the town, acknowledging that life was better with Wilbur in their town. Charlotte’s “Magnum Opus” takes place toward the end of the movie.

Charlotte’s Web is not a spiritual movie, but there are some interesting parallels to the Gospel message. Like Wilbur, we are all destined for the “Smokehouse” (Hell) unless someone acts on our behalf to deliver us from that fate. Charlotte made a promise to Wilbur that she would prevent that from happening and to trust (have faith) in what she was doing. God, our Father, has a “Magnum Opus” of His own. He understood that our sin and rebellion would result in the “Smokehouse” as our ultimate destination unless we placed our trust in His plan to deliver us from that fate.

“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:22b-23, ESV

His great work was for His Son to take the punishment for our sin and rebellion. Like Charlotte to Wilbur, He asks us to trust in His plan, but the step of trust on our part requires something more than waiting it out.

Salvation is a gift from God.

For the wages of sin is death [the Smokehouse], but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23, ESV

A gift only benefits me when I receive it from the giver and make it mine by opening it. To open the gift of salvation, we simply call on the Lord. Scripture tells us,

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

Romans 10:13, ESV

“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”

John 1:12, ESV

Charlotte’s Magnum Opus had nothing to do with Wilbur’s deliverance from the “Smokehouse”. Her “greatest work” was her egg sack, which resulted in new life being brought forth the following Spring. God’s Magnum Opus requires us to trust in Him and we demonstrate that trust (faith) by believing and receiving the free gift of eternal life.

What say you, Man of Valor?

Adapted from Men of Valor Devotional by Ron Helle, 21 June 2024

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