People Or Position
I don't know if you have ever been on a 15-hour flight with 8 and 13-year-old boys, but that is where I found myself a couple weeks ago. I had been invited to minister at a conference in Australia and my wife and I decided it was finally time to take the whole family to the land down under. This meant we would be taking 3 different flights that would total about 24 hours of flying. Lucky for me, my kids are pro travelers. I even remember one trip when my youngest was just 6 years old, he asked how long one of the trips was going to be and I said 8 hours. His reply was, "oh, that's not too bad." I knew at that time that my kids were going to be able to handle almost any trip I threw at them.
So here we are on the 15-hour flight and the first thing everyone does is start choosing their movies. My first thought is, no phone, no email, no communication...sleep. This is a rare opportunity for me. But instead I start filtering mindlessly through the movies and it only takes one swipe of the page before my 13-year-old elbows me and points to a movie that I have been telling him about since he was a little boy, Braveheart. He was always too young to watch it before and it had been so long since I had seen it that I told him I would watch it and then decide if I thought he was ready. So instead of sleeping, I embarked on the three hour Braveheart adventure.
If you have ever seen this movie then you know it is not for the weak of heart. I love how Robert Ebert describes it in his 1995 movie review . . .
Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" is a full-throated, red-blooded battle epic about William Wallace, the legendary Scots warrior who led his nation into battle against the English in the years around 1300. It's an ambitious film, big on simple emotions like love, patriotism, and treachery, and avoids the travelogue style of so many historical swashbucklers: Its locations look green, wet, vast, muddy and rugged. Not much is known about Wallace, known as Braveheart, except that according to an old epic poem, he unified the clans of Scotland and won famous battles against the English before being captured, tortured and executed as a traitor.
From that review does this sound like the type of movie I should be watching on a plane? Yet here I am, three hours into the flight completely locked in. All the lights are off in the plane. Both boys are asleep and William Wallace is getting tortured. My testosterone is through the roof. I forget I'm on a plane. I want to stand up and yell, mercy! I am a mess. Tears are pouring down my face. I don't care who you are. If you don't feel something when Mel Gibson yells, "FREEDOM", while being tortured, then you need a pulse check. NOTE TO SELF . . . DON’T WATCH BRAVEHEART ON A PLANE!
As I watched this movie, God was doing a work in me that I was not expecting. He was reminding me of the fight that he has called me to and the leanings of human nature to take over and fight for itself. The story of Braveheart, like so many stories in the Bible, is centered around men who fought for power instead of people. As I was sitting in the plane watching the soldiers mock the townspeople and abuse their position, I felt myself shrinking in my seat. As I watched the King and those that he had placed in leadership abuse their power, I felt like it is much of what Jesus encountered when he walked the earth and a lot of what we encounter in church leadership today.
As I travel around the world I see men and women who are fighting for position, but they have stopped fighting for people. When Jesus stepped on the scene he was not concerned about a position, he was fighting always for people.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. - Luke 4:18-19
One of my favorite lines in the movie Braveheart is when William Wallace says to Robert the Bruce . . .
There's a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure they have it.
I feel like this is what Jesus would say to a lot of ministers today. I know it is what he said to a lot of leaders in the Bible who abused their positions. Is it what he is saying to you today?
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