Saturday, October 29, 2005

Memories of another life

Tonight I watched a movie called Changing Lanes. It stars Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson, and is the story of two men allowing their anger and need for vengeance to pretty much wreck their lives. There's a scene at the end of the movie that reminded me once again of how backwards the Kingdom of God really is.

These two men finally come together after coming to the end of their ropes and seeing that their need for vengeance really did not fix their problems. It's taken this terrible day for both men to realize that they have been wrong for quite some time. Actually, they're pretty rotten to the core. Jackson's character (Doyle) realizes that his anger and drinking has driven his wife and kids away, while Affleck's character (Gavin) sees for the first time that his climb up the corporate ladder has been at the expense of others. He has fallen for the lie that it's ok to cheat because that's the way the world operates.

You could say that these men have both been humbled by their depravity by the end of this movie.

So at the end of the movie, Gavin tells Doyle a story. He says that there's a guy on a beach, and he finds himself standing next to a pretty girl. If he asked her her name, he'd leave everything to be with her. But he doesn't. So she becomes a memory to him, something that he thinks about every day. It's a life that he could have had.

Gavin says, "Today is that girl."

He's come to see that his life is not all that it's cracked up to be. He's got money, a beautiful wife, prestige, success, toys, etc. But he's corrupt. He wishes he could leave it all. This day has shown him that he can. It of course means that he'll lose everything...but he'll gain so much more. It kind of reminds me of something Jesus once said:

The Kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought the field (Matt 13:44).

Earlier today I was rereading an article called "The Church as Subversive Community." I was thinking about this while I was watching the movie.

The Subversive Community understands that the world and its ways are false. It is constantly interacting with people at work, in the grocery store, or at home who are all in the prison of this world's system. These prisoners are quite happy in their assumed reality (especially the ones who have amassed quite a kingdom of wealth). But some secretly ask the question, "Is this really all there is to life?" The Subversive Community’s answer is not merely to inform them about the Kingdom, but to invite them to become participants in a whole new reality. The training program will be unique and cannot be rushed or broken down into a few 'principles' that are easy to swallow. Remember, the kingdom of God deals with every aspect of our lives. This training might just take a lifetime.

This is why we pray for God's Kingdom to come. "This remarkable new opportunity" comes at a price. It means leaving behind the world and its ways. The "good life" is called "good" for a reason. But perhaps it's not as good as we think. The treasure in the field is so much better.

God, open our eyes to see the treasure before us, and give us the courage and grace to do whatever it takes to attain it.

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