A couple of nights ago my wife and I took a date night to go see Lincoln. I was impressed by several things in the movie – the acting is superb, the historicity of the sets and wardrobe are precise, the music carries a subtle beauty, and I am now more appreciative of the blood, sweat, and tears that went in to passing the thirteenth amendment.
But the thing I think I was most impressed by is the way Steven Spielberg portrayed Abraham Lincoln. Growing up in this country, the perception I have had of Lincoln has been one that is larger than life. In many ways we have put Lincoln on a pedestal to honor him for all he accomplished, forgetting that he, like the rest of us, was a sinful man in need of Jesus.
Now Spielberg certainly doesn’t paint him in a bad light, but neither does he shy away from scenes where Lincoln is shown yelling at his wife, engaging in shady political dealings, and exhibiting a lack of compassion toward his son. We see much to admire in the man, but we are also made to see that he is, in fact, a man.
I am thankful for this because I know my tendency to esteem men as more than men. In showing some of the shortcomings of this legendary figure, Spielberg has helped me keep my thoughts about man small and my thoughts about God big, so that I can say to God, along with David, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)