Warrior 101: Happenings within BCS Classrooms – Ben-Hur

Twenty-first Century Christians Meet First Century Jew

by Vanessa Lund

One of the joys in a literature teacher’s life is watching students’ enthusiasm ignite over classic literary works.  This year’s 11th grade Honors English class has once again provided me with such provender in their excited engagement of Lew Wallace’s novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.  While many only know this novel as a movie (three film versions have been inspired by the book), Wallace’s work is much more profound in rendering the issues facing a prominent Jewish citizen of first century Judea.  How does one remain faithful to the humble calling of a Messiah who preaches love, kindness, and equality when the might and power of Rome threatens to diminish and overwhelm everything within its shadow?   How does one remain faithful to a God whose promises of blessings are not always immediate or visible, when the world system offers so many attractive, enticing distractions and opportunities?  What should the primary goal of one’s life work represent: pursuit of personal aggrandizement or commitment to selfless service?  These are the questions with which Judah Ben-Hur, the novel’s main character, grappled, and they are still pertinent today.  Wallace not only created a bold tale of persecution and redemption, but he also sought to challenge his readers with the reality of Jesus Christ and their need for personal commitment to Christ.  The BCS students who successfully plowed through this 562-page tome rejoiced in both Ben-Hur’s successes and his salvation.  Additionally, they were challenged in their reading skills, especially in comprehending complex literary inferences and allusions, and, more importantly, in their spiritual framework.  Incidentally, they also blessed their instructor with their insightful and exuberant discussions.