May 19, 2016
I can’t say that I am a movie aficianado. I do like a good film on occasion, but if I am in an actual theatre more than once a year, I would be surprised. Why go to a theatre and pay 10-15 dollars to get in along with an additional 20 dollars for a popcorn and drink when I can wait a few months and watch the very thing in the comfort of my living room (by myself without rude people talking and texting) for next to nothing? And I can eat my own homemade popcorn which is WAY better than the buttered Styrofoam garbage they sell in movie houses! I guess I’m just cheap. Must be some of that Scottish DNA. Nah… just cheap.
My taste in movies has surely changed over the years. I have little desire to see violent movies any longer that entail senseless blood and gore. I like very much “war movies” that are based on true events, but the sadness, intensity and brutality bothers me more than I would like to admit. I have never liked scary movies going back to the “Chilly Billy Cardilly” days on Saturday nights when I couldn’t sleep by myself after watching a horror flick. But the “slasher pictures”…, well I just don’t get them, nor do I understand those who do. I’m going to risk a little by putting myself out here and saying that a well done “chick flick” isn’t beyond me…. Sleepless in Seattle, Notting Hill, Princess Bride, Far From the Madding Crowd (the 1967 version with Julie Christy – ahhhhhhhh) and While You were Sleeping among others have all touched my heart at one time or another.
I want to recommend a movie to you today. It’s not new at all. As a matter of fact it was released in 2004 and starred Adam Sandler. It’s called Spanglish. You might be inclined to say that Adam Sandler movies are moronic and sophomoric and for the most part you would be right. But Spanglish is VERY different from his other films. First and foremost it’s a serious movie about serious subjects. I don’t really want to give it away if you have not seen it, but suffice it to say, it has to do with values and how we choose them. In particular one of the main characters discusses “what defines her.” That’s really my question for you today. “What defines you?”
Do you know what I mean by that? I’m not even sure myself how to explain what that entails, since it seems so broad and hard to get grasp. But when people think of you and who you are… If you were to list the top 5 most important things to you… If you were to recall the most significant accomplishments in your life… If you were to list those things that make you unique… And somehow mashed all those answers together, who would you be? Because I suspect much of what defines you would be in the amalgam of those answers.
Maybe it’s family. Maybe its educational accomplishments. Maybe it’s professional endeavors. Maybe its success in hobbies. I don’t know, but I do know that we are all defined in some way or other.
Depending on who’s counting, there are anywhere from 12-14 New Testament letters written by the Apostle Paul. The two in dispute are Hebrews (few believe he is the author) and Ephesians. In the letter to the Philippians, Paul, in one of the most inspirational sections of scripture found in the Bible, indicates what “defines” him.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
The short of what he says is this: Whatever things I have accomplished in my life are nothing compared to knowing Jesus. They are actually worse than nothing. They are garbage. I WANT TO KNOW CHRIST. I want to know his resurrection, I even want to participate in his suffering. Whatever it takes I WANT TO KNOW CHRIST.
I had a professor in seminary many years ago who said this, “I believe we would know of Paul even if he had never become a Christian and never written a letter that ended up in the Bible.” The implication being that Paul was so brilliant that he would have been on a par with other great men of history regardless of what he chose to do. This is the man who said, “What I have done in the past is garbage compared to knowing Jesus Christ.”
Friends, I don’t know what defines you. Honestly I’m not even sure what defines me. But I suspect for all Christian people we need to find ourselves developing a faith that WANTS TO KNOW CHRIST beyond all else. We should desire that people might say about us after we are gone, “You know there are many things I could say about ___________, but one thing stands above all others THEY WANTED TO KNOW JESUS CHRIST!”
Not sure about you but I feel humbled and inadequate when I read the words of Paul.