OK, so here's a secret for you--I'm a huge fan of war movies. I know, strange, right? Now there are many kinds of movies I really can't stand. Any movie where the main character (s) go from one little thing not going their way to having a house burn down--these movies make me crazy. "Meet the Parents" is one such example. Anything that can go wrong does for poor Ben Stiller. I don't think it one bit funny! And, despite the fact that merely mentioning this title will make the Beve laugh and recite certain lines, I don't like the movie "Trains, Planes and Automobiles," either. Too many improbable catastrophes happen in a row!
Another type of movie I really don't like is one in which I'm compelled to root for the 'bad guy,' or the person breaking the law. The "Thomas Crown Affair" was a movie like this--thieves as the heroes. So are all those "Ocean" movies. Yes, they're clever; yes, they have giant stars who aren't hard on the eyes, but I still sit on the edge of my seat, hoping this band of robbers can pull off the heist. When you think about it, would you ever do this in real life?
But I love war movies. I'm not really sure why. They aren't necessarily my very favorite kind--which would be character driven dramas. But I do love well-made war epics. J has the "Band of Brothers" DVD set, and I've watched the entire thing more than once. And Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers"? Loved it! I sat through "The Deerhunter" with the Beve in Finland, with Finnish subtitled throughout. And when I was about eight months pregnant with J, we saw "Platoon," and the baby kicked in my stomach at every shot fired--making me experience the movie from the inside out! But my favorite war movie has to be "Saving Private Ryan." Yes, I know the first twenty minutes of it are more violent than any movie before or since. Yes, it made me want to cover my eyes and close my ears. For all that it was brilliant, combining the feel of war to primarily a character-driven piece.
And my favorite scene in that movie is very close to the end. Tom Hanks is sitting on a just-saved bridge, a fatal wound already clouding his vision. Matt Damon, the saved 'Private Ryan', is standing over him when Hanks beckons him to lean down for what will be the captain's final words. "Earn this!" the captain tells the private. Earn this saving of your life, this ticket home. Earn what had been done for you at so high a price--the deaths of most of the men who came to save you.
Jesus, hanging on the cross, or resurrected and standing among the disciples behind the closed door of the upper room, could be saying those very words. "It is finished," he cried from the cross. "Now earn it!" I almost hear Him cry. Live your life worthy of what I've done for you, worthy of this Incarnate gospel. "Earn this," he whispers to each of us.
Legally, before the court of God, we have already been saved, already been made perfect by those stripes and nail holes on the body of Christ. The Father already sees the fulfilment of our holiness. But on this earth, we must walk daily, must grow up in Him more and more toward that which He's already given us. It's an odd paradox that we already are what we must become, we already have that for which we aim. So this moment in "Saving Private Ryan," helps me get it. Earn this! Private Ryan cannot turn the clock backwards so he isn't saved, he can only walk into his life, living up to what has been done for him.
Earn this, is the whisper I hear in the dark. Not earning my right to salvation, not working my way into heaven, but living my LIFE in light of salvation and heaven together.
Lord, grant us the grace to be worthy of your Name.