Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation & Serving Two Masters

"O.K.! I wanna come back inside now, Nancy!"
"Jimmy Johns? Can you deliver some
humble pie right away? Front door, please."
I had one of those emotionally taut days that belied the gorgeous September weather we've been having. In truth, maybe the weather caused me to be somewhat wired. I could not do what I wanted to do and began to suspect that God had a hand in holding me back. After five utter failures to inflate my bike to go for a ride and get away from "those crazy people" [friends will know who I mean], I surrendered and addressed the Almighty through gritted teeth: "This is flatly ridiculous. Neither of these pumps will work? O.K.! If You will let me inflate this tube this one time, I will go back inside like they want and eat lunch!" I felt I had been betrayed once again on a matter of information and was so angry, I was about to run away. I was planning how I could move out and where I could live.

The tube inflated. I was deflated. I went inside and ate my sandwich like a pouty child.

I know - so spiritually mature and wise, huh? Well, kids you get weird attacks when you serve and preach a lot, so don't be surprised. But in the middle of my emotional dissonance, I knew I had to obey God. Emotions are merely gauges to tell us when something is not right. They are not our command center. I have an old rule, a personal one: "All decisions made when angry are wrong."

I was wrong, and God kindly restrained me. Later, all was good. No, you don't get to hear all the juicy details or get to rummage in my soul to fix me. Go fix yourself. I want to say what saved me from picking up my bags, my stuff and moving out was simple: I am poor.

I have no money. I have been serving in faith and under the God's leading for over a decade and a half. I have not been building my resume'. It has been amazing to see His provision as I do it. The level of material blessings ranks at Ridiculous. There is "How About That?. I Can't Believe How Lucky I Am!, Wow, Really?, Ridiculous, Praise God, and That Never Happened [But It Did].

So it's pretty high up on the scale.

Do you think I'll meet Miss Right on Christian Mingle?
"So honey - how was my sermon? Honey? Honey?"
Doing Missions that Seem Impossible Make Me Smile
That's why I love Tom Cruise movies though he be into scientology. He always goes for the That Never Happened type stuff. From Risky Business to Top Gun to Magnolia to Edge of Tomorrow, he likes going for the miraculous, the "unheard of" result.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is another smart, twisty, hi-tech entry into the M:I franchise, and I must recommend it, if for no other reason the "unbeatable" villain is foiled in the very end with a good classic Mission: Impossible trap. It was very satisfying, and I refuse to spoil it for you.

What leads the villain into the trap is his greed. Cruise's character, Ethan Hunt sees this as the tether to dialogue and taunt the villain. Though he will kill Hunt, his men and hundreds of innocent civilians - while the clock is ticking - Hunt rationally speaks to him. Paraphrased it goes like this:

"I seriously doubt you can possibly care about any human being. Maybe you used to, but not anymore. But you do care about money. Without it, you are useless. You can do nothing of your grand plans. You want it, you have to let us go."

That is a simple classic trope, but in this case, Hunt bets everything on it. I mean it is nail-biting.

He's not out of the woods, but it is great moment of heroism: facing death to defeat terror and evil.

He's perfectly right, too. The villain has no great ideology except to build his own "rogue nation" using funds taking from all the existing ones. Without money, he funds nothing. He has nothing.

I wanted to leave my duties as a pastor/caregiver but I had no funds. I had no personal power. Like Hunt, though, I have supplies. Not for myself, but to serve others. It is still very strange to me, to live this life of faith. I am sure other Christians are witnesses in their professions, but for an unmarried, single guy like me, I either serve Christ with honor or I am a bum. I simply cannot do anything else.

When you see super agent films, the highly trained operatives doing great deeds, it is not on their dime. They are trained to do what no one else can do or frankly, wants to do. It is very heroic and sexy and all that. I love 'em. My service is not so glamorous, but I see it for what it is. I went through my own boot camp, I left the most desirable woman I had ever known, and asked God to use me.

Now I empty cat litter. Who'd have thought, huh?

But I smile, I do understand Jesus so much better. That is a perk of discipleship. You go crazy for Jesus and you end up  - well, you end up understanding Jesus.

He said something I once found hard to grok. He said:
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."
Matthew, a former tax collector [re: corrupt greedy official] recorded this for us. He himself had been hit between the eyes in his desire to have enough money to have power and control.

He gave it up for Jesus. I suspect he'd gotten what he wanted and found it far more unappealing than he imagined.

As a Protestant American, I always thought this was a bit of a false tautology by Jesus - like he was saying "You can't have a job and love God." or "If you spend money, you don't love God. You should be poor as dirt."

No. Jesus doesn't care how much money you need. Jesus is concerned with how much money you want. Like you treat money as God or oxygen, and if you don't have enough, you will die.

People worry about money all the time. I think it is because they do not "worry" about God.

God said those who trust Him will have all they need and more. You give Him a little by giving it to His people and He says "You cannot outgive Me. I love you, too, you know."

Now, mark that. It is not a goddamned magic spell. [Yes. I spoke accurately there. Learn to read.]

He is an Adult Daddy and you are Kid. Serve Him and you find out He's taking care of you.

But if you want your own "rogue nation" - you are going to need money because that's what the world runs on. If you want to rule, not serve, you end up serving money to get the power you want.

That's it. You end up serving God - and you can be a banker or big CEO doing so - or you can serve money and end up constantly worried about how much everything costs, etc.

Frankly, we American Christians in a capitalist system are easily drawn into doing far too many things we should not "for the money."

Let me end by saying Ethan Hunt was right about the villain and it became his downfall.

By serving money, without a single concern for others, he was defeated.

Don't be like that. Don't worry so much. Ask God to take care of you, and, like me, watch Him do it.

I can't go anywhere on my own due to my personal lack of money.

But I have gone to Russia, Kazakhstan and India due to serving God, funded by people who love God.

I think that's pretty awesome. I used to think it'd be impossible for me to go on mission trips or serve year after year without a steady paycheck.

I guess I was wrong. Nothing is impossible with God.

It's your mission should you choose to accept it... [cue Mission: Impossible theme]



Amen.

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