**Once upon a time, my husband started one of those blog things I’d never heard of and would sit in our little one-bedroom apartment taking much joy in conjuring up witty and insightful posts to share. That was before the hurricane hit and kids started coming (seemingly by the half-dozen) and the 50-60 hour work weeks began. He’s back today to share something from the heart.**
Guest Post by Jeffrey Hazleton
One of my favorite movies (and this is a rather vague label, as I have no certain list of favorite movies) is the 2005 film Serenity. This film is itself a continuation (one blogger called it “a [wonderful] impossible fairytale ending”) of the cancelled television series Firefly.
The premise of both the TV show and the film is a “space cowboy” drama set 500 years in the future, Serenity is the story of the captain and crew of a transport/cargo ship. Space ship, that is.
Their lives of petty crime are interrupted as they are swept up in a massive conspiracy. Their government (the Alliance) has dispatched an operative to eliminate the threat that one of their passengers represents – a secret that, if known, might bring about the collapse of the ruling powers.
This operative is relentless in his pursuit and beyond remorse in the atrocities he commits to achieve his objective. After one such event (he wipes out an entire city just so our heroes have no refuge to run to) Captain Reynolds and his crew learn the origin of the conspiracy, which they investigate and confirm, to their horror.
In one of the defining points of the series, the movie, and the man himself, the captain tells his crew of his intention to act on behalf of those who have been victimized by the Alliance:
“This report is maybe twelve years old? Parliament buried it, and it remained buried, until River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear. ‘Cause there’s a whole universe of folk who are going to know it too; they’re going to see it.
Somebody has to speak for these people.
You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you’ve all come to the same place, so now I’m asking more of you than I have before — maybe all. [Because] sure as I know anything, I know this: they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people … better. And I do not hold to that.
So no more running. I aim to misbehave.”
Video of Mal’s Speech
This is my favorite moment of the movie. The scene gets me every time. I feel Mal’s outrage at the injustice and understand his need to speak for and defend those who cannot help themselves.
In this speech, he reveals his philosophical difference with the ruling powers: They believe they can make a better world by making better people. He knows this is not the case. You cannot make a person better. All the evil the Alliance has done and hurt they have caused grows out of this humanistic philosophy. And he is determined to put an end to it.
I am determined to put an end to it. This thinking that I can effect change in others by some strength of character or force of will or marvelous example of how to conduct oneself in life.
Here’s the point: I am not commanded to do Jesus’ work, only to follow His example and keep His commands. And that is why Malcolm Reynolds’ speech resonates so deeply with me. I cannot make.people.better. Whether it be my kids, my wife, my friends, my co-workers – whomever – I cannot change their heads or their hearts. That is God’s job.
My job is to lay down my life, to embrace the death of self in the service of my King. I am supposed to love God with everything I’ve got – heart, soul, mind, strength – and to love everyone else as much as I love myself. But what does that look like?
In Matthew 9, Jesus
“went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus loved these people. Loved them. The word translated “had compassion” here means that he was moved in His gut for them. He was touched to the core with concern for the people. So what did He do? He served them. Did what He could to meet their needs. Especially their eternal need – for a right relationship with God. He proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom.
That is what I’m supposed to do. See people as God sees them. Broken and lost, in need of the Good Shepherd. And then respond in compassion – serve them and give them hope – tell them about Jesus and the eternal difference He will make for them and in them.
It’s not my job to change people – to make them better. No man can do that; only God can. It is, however, my commission to love and serve everyone my life is connected to, to make disciples, teaching them to know and follow Jesus all the days of their lives.