'The Postman' and the hope of good news

“The Postman” is a 1997 post-apocalyptic action film set in the near future based on a 1985 novel of the same title by David Brin. It tells the story of Gordon Krantz, a wanderer over the former United States devastated by war, disease and lawlessness.

Small, isolated communities of survivors eking out a living formed in various areas of the country, and Krantz would wander among them, performing scenes from long-forgotten Shakespearean plays in exchange for food, water and shelter.

With the breakdown of law and order, technology, and civilization, over time one or more neo-feudalist warlords would arise. They continually threatened surviving communities because they would plunder their scarce resources and seize their people as recruits for their armies.

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Krantz, on a cold, rainy night, came upon a long-dead postman’s mail vehicle. Taking his uniform for warmth, he spent the night in the vehicle. The next day, he buried the postman and left with his bag of mail for the nearest community, hoping to trade it for food and shelter.

When the people in the next town saw him in the postal service uniform and he was able to deliver a letter to one of the elderly residents, they believed that he was a real postman from the restored United States government. This filled the people with hope that things would start to turn around and civilization would return.

As word spread about Krantz and his work, hope grew among the residents of the scattered communities across the land. More postmen were commissioned by him, and others were commissioned by them, to deliver the mail and spread the word about the restored United States.

The warlords, wanting to maintain their power, did all they could to destroy Krantz and the work of his followers by hunting and killing them, but through the increasing communication and growing unity of the no longer disconnected communities, their tyrannical rule was defeated.

Krantz continued his work as a postman, and the conclusion of the film showed that he and the postmen he commissioned helped to rebuild the United States.

What caught my attention about this story was that historical or fictional narratives involving societal or civilizational cataclysms often do not have a good ending, and they do not include a message of hope that changes people in positive ways that rebuild society.

The good news believed by people in isolated communities gave them hope even as they experienced deprivation and danger from their enemies. It connected them with other communities and strengthened them as they spread the word. It is reminiscent of the greatest story ever told – one that is quite real and includes a great tragedy and widespread ruin, a message of hope, a Savior, a magnificent conclusion and the restoration of all that is good.

As we read in the book of Genesis, when global catastrophe came into the world through Adam’s sin, instigated by Satan to isolate humanity from God and bring about its destruction, the close fellowship and communication between God and humanity were broken. Suffering, decay and death became the lot of all who came after Adam. His descendants, inheriting his fallen nature (Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1-3), experienced the terrible consequences of the sins they and others committed.

But God gave our first parents the promise that He would utterly defeat the works of the devil and restore forever the relationship they once had (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8). He would send a Savior to reconcile the lost world to God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Through the following centuries, God revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and delivered to them the hope of the coming Savior. He made the descendants of Jacob into the people of Israel, to whom God sent prophets to keep imparting this good news.

Thousands of years later, God sent His Son Jesus into the world to be the perfect atonement for our transgressions by His death on the cross and undo the curse brought by Adam’s sin for all who trust in Him (Hebrews 1:1-4).

After rising from the dead, Jesus commissioned His disciples to proclaim the Gospel message to the world (Matthew 28:16-20). The devil, vainly trying to maintain his power, used his warlords in Jerusalem and Rome to thwart and destroy them.

In spite of severe persecution and martyrdom, the followers of Jesus’ grew in number, and they commissioned more disciples. They used the well-engineered and extensive road network of the Roman Empire to spread the good news about Jesus through couriers who transported copies of the gospels and letters from the apostles.

Efforts to isolate believers in Christ and destroy their “mail” failed as they made use of various ways to communicate with each other and strengthen their faith. The hope they held in their hearts for the return of Jesus and His eternal righteous rule increased the numbers of those entering the kingdom of God to such an extent that it overcame the Roman Empire.

The Dark Ages that followed the fall of Rome, generally the period between A.D. 500 and 1000, could not extinguish the light of the Gospel and the hope it gave to all who embraced it.

Even though his defeat was secured by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan uses his warlords today to create technologies and government policies through enticed or coerced isolation, divide-and-conquer tactics, relentless propaganda and censorship to keep us separated from God and each other.

Just as the postmen of Gordon Krantz delivered good news and hope, bringing isolated communities together to rebuild a ruined country, so all those who hope in Jesus Christ can share with everyone they can the greater hope found in the Gospel message:

“Believe in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection from the dead for the forgiveness of all your transgressions (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 10:9-13). Be reconciled to God and enter His eternal kingdom, where tyranny, sorrow, decay, and death are no more.”

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