His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ -Matthew 25:23 (ESV)
The trail of the Black Panther, indistinguishable from the actor who portrayed the superhero, led the world to one far greater than he.
In August 2020, in a year already beset with the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and racial strife across the U.S., another tragedy occurred: the death of 43-year-old actor Chadwick Boseman. But while his influence during his time on earth was substantial, his postmortem legacy speaks even greater volumes for his life as a beacon in the world.
Though Boseman had already taken several roles in many movies, it was his starring role in the 2018 Marvel film “The Black Panther” that made him a household name. That movie was so popular that it went on to gross over $1 billion (U.S.) in ticket sales. The movie’s popularity had much more to do than superheroes and action, but of a positive portrayal of black leading characters that would, in turn, positively influence and build up young black viewers. This significance cannot be understated.
But in the two short years after the movie, the world saw less and less of Boseman outside of his appearances in two other Marvel movies. A few paparazzi shots revealed him as increasingly gaunt and underweight. Those shots would later underline what was revealed to the world after his passing from colon cancer: he had undergone several chemotherapy treatments over the years, unbeknownst to almost everyone around him, including his movie crews and co-stars.
After his death, people around the world came forward to testify to the life he lived. He didn’t draw attention to his illness, but instead used his fame and positive influence to visit children with cancer in various hospitals. He used his own money to eliminate the financial inequity for an actress who wasn’t getting paid the way her peers were. He inspired countless youths to see that they, too, could be a part of a positive portrayal for others.
But what wasn’t mentioned as much as the above–though beautiful as they were–was that his friends and co-stars shared some of his final tweets and text messages. In those communications, Boseman simply encouraged others to stop in the middle of their harried, stressful lives and be grateful for the day the Lord had made. That no matter what happened, they could be grateful.
In hindsight, it was so clear that he lived that life every single day.
Boseman lived a life that pointed people to God, and continues to point people to God even after death. The trail of the Black Panther points to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God is most certainly praising him on a life lived as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to Him.