by Rubel Shelly
He always wore a mask to conceal his identity. But there was no sinister purpose behind it. He was not a thief or villain. Quite the opposite! He was a heroic figure who championed justice, fair play, and honesty. He and his "faithful Indian companion," Tonto, covered each other's backs and came to the defense of the helpless. At the end, they rode away before the people they had helped could make a fuss over them.
No, he is not a character from today's crop of ambiguous, self- congratulating heroes. Those of us who watched him on TV in our childhood will never hear Rossini's "William Tell Overture" without thinking of him. We will picture him riding Silver, the "fiery horse with the speed of light" and hear the announcer say, "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again."
Clayton Moore, 85, died December 28, 1999. But his death was reported in terms of the character with whose identity he will always be associated, the Lone Ranger. He was the western hero in 169 episodes of a popular television show that ran from 1949 to 1957 and in two Hollywood movies. When TV and movies no longer wanted him for the role, he simply couldn't give it up. He was so closely identified with the Lone Ranger that his is the only star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that has both his name and his character's name inscribed on it.
In reflecting on the death of one of my boyhood icons, it occurred to me that there is a parable in Clayton Moore's experience. Once he discovered the defining role for his life, he became so marked by it that no one could ever think of him apart from it. I'd like to be that way in relation to Jesus.
I was not born to the role, and it doesn't come naturally. It was offered by God, accepted by faith, and is lived by the power of the Spirit. When I die, I'd like for those who notice to be as unable to report it apart from my identification with Jesus as they have been unable to report Moore's death without mentioning his alter ego.
If you are Christ's, let his identity define yours today ... and forever.
© 2000, Rubel Shelly. Used by permission. From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life" printed each Tuesday. See Faith Matters for previous issues of the "FAX of Life."
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