Thursday, September 3, 2009

Whattya got worth living for?

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Princess Bride. It is the story of how a poor farm boy named Westley leaves his true love Buttercup to go seek his fortune. Along the way, Westley gets captured by pirates and is presumed dead, only to be reunited with Buttercup after she is already betrothed to Prince Humperdinck, who is trying to have her killed as a pretext for war with Guilder, a neighboring country. Westley rescues Buttercup, and leads her through the Fire Swamp and safely past its lightning sand, random flame spurts, and Rodents of Unusual Size, only to be captured by Humperdinck and his men, and killed in the Pit of Despair.

Now you would think that getting killed would pretty much put an end to any hopes Westley had of marrying Buttercup and rescuing her from evil Prince Humperdinck. But you would be wrong. Because Westley’s friends Inigo the alcoholic Spanish swordsman and Fezzik the giant from Greenland find him and take him to Miracle Max, who tells them that Westley is only “mostly dead.” “And there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is still slightly alive. With all dead there’s only one thing left to do – go through his pockets and look for loose change.” With the aid of a bellows, Miracle Max inflates Westley’s lungs and asks, “Hello in there! What you got worth living for?” Westley answers, “True love.” And of course, with the help of Miracle Max, a chocolate coated miracle pill, and his own true love to live for, Westley is miraculous healed to rescue the princess and ride off into the sunset on white horses, kissing passionately.

Now my point in all this is not simply to tell some of the best parts of a movie I enjoy, but to suggest that Miracle Max's question is one well worth answering? What, at the end of the day, do we have that is worth living for? Paul answer is simple: "Christ" (Phil. 1:21).

What Paul means is that Jesus is life; everything else is just details. In this, Paul is kind of like an Olympic athlete. Athletes competing for the Olympics are totally defined by that pursuit. Their schedule each day is determined by what will make them the most successful competitor when the day comes for their race. Their diet is determined by what will help them succeed. Their sleep pattern is determined by the needs of their body for rest to succeed at competing. If they have a job, it is chosen with respect to their need to train. In the same way, Paul’s relationship with Christ is the defining characteristic of his life. It is the center of who he is and what he does. His relationship with Christ is what gives his life purpose and meaning, the thing which reigns supreme over every other concern, need, relationship, and consideration. Christ and Paul’s relationship with him determines what Paul will say, how he will act, and what and how he thinks about every other issue. He is completely dedicated to exalting Christ as long as he lives, and he knows that even if he dies, death is not really a loss but a gain, because in death a Christian passes out of this broken-down life and into the very presence of the Living God.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Joe, that IS my favorite movie! There has never been a better one. Good analogy, by the way.