I confess. I love movies. It was a gift my husband brought into my life. I am not sure if I had seen more than a half dozen movies prior to our dating. His love of story played out on the big screen with plenty of action and a great musical score grabbed me.
Yes, I love a great love story and am a fan of Downton Abbey, but along the way my husband’s love of action movies has taught me more about character, great missions, and teamwork than I could have imagined. As believers, there is much we can learn from them because I see qualities in them that are too often in short supply among us.
This past weekend we saw two great movies rich in story line and powerful in significance. We went to see the new movie, Thirteen Hours. We also watched The Two Towers (expanded version), from The Lord of the Rings series (a big favorite of ours).
Were these movies different? Yes and no.
Both movies deliver a powerful story full of action and moving lines delivered in the midst of stunning backgrounds and powerful musical scores. One is an allegory written by J.R.R. Tolkien playing out the forces of good and evil, light and darkness.
The other is a retelling of the survivors of a real life story set in the midst of the crumbling modern day Middle East where it is difficult to identify the good guys from the bad guys.
The similarity I see is that each lays out the story of a team joined together on a mission of significant importance. Lives are on the line. Trust and courage will be tested. There are no easy choices. Working together is essential. Not everyone will survive.
What makes that resonate is how it reminds me that we too often get caught up in small stories, forgetting we too are part of a great story of crucial significance.
We also are on a mission that we too easily forget. Choices can be difficult. Trust and courage will be tested. Working together is essential and not everyone will finish the mission.
What I see in a story of Navy SEALS or Delta Force missions as well as in ‘ring fellowship’ in Tolkien’s story shows me what is missing in the great story we are all a part of.
In the stories unfolding on the screen, the teams are clear on their mission and committed to it at all cost. Whether in these two I have mentioned or numerous others like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, concern for self-interest gets set aside for the sake of someone and something else to accomplish the mission before them.
No matter how individualistic they may be at the outset, the mission is kept in focus. They also support one another and truly have each other’s back in the midst of great danger when all faith and hope can be lost. The small stories each may have come from may or may not have equipped them.
The key is that they are caught up in something bigger and more important than themselves.
In the quest for the mission to succeed, each is willing to lay down his life, his preferences, his doubts, and his ego for the good of everyone else. They work and fight together as one and in the midst of that they show great care and love for each other. They also want no one to be left behind, alive or dead.
The Navy SEALS, Delta Force, Rangers, and other elite teams all operate under a similar code. What are the hallmarks that forge such teams?
- Ready to lead
- Ready to follow
- Never quit
- Take responsibility for your actions and those of your teammates
- Excel as warriors through discipline and innovation
- Train for war
- Leave no one behind
What if we, in the body of Christ, operated similarly keeping the Lord’s mission and our place in it in focus?
What would happen if we understood the significance of the unseen war we are caught up in and applied such hallmarks?
What if we stood with on another against the enemy of our Lord and us as His disciples?
What if we were committed to leave no one behind?
The Navy SEALS and the stories they live are stories we can learn from to stand more effectively with and for one another, helping each of us to be encouraged, strengthened, accountable, and focused.
When we do, we can be better than we would have been without each other.