A friend suggested the movie Gone Baby Gone while we were talking about our favorite movies.
A friend suggested the movie Gone Baby Gone while we were talking about our favorite movies. I decided to rent it and after watching the film it’s hard for me to put into words how much the opening monologue speaks to me.
The story line involves a man that is hired to find a missing girl. Through several plot twists, some insinuated violence and one scene that makes you sit up straight in your chair–you eventually get to a conclusion that makes you ask one simple question. “Do you do what is right because it is right, or do you do it because you will gain something from it?” It is a powerful question that delivers a punch.
I speak for a living and the content of my message is the Bible. I am a preacher and I deal with this question: Would I pursue God if I were not being paid to? Would I tell my neighbors about hope and redemption and restoration if I were not expected to; if the window decal on my car did not have the logo and website to the ministry I am responsible for? All of this is not explicit in the introduction but it lies just beneath the surface.
Just this Summer Dr. Creamer, a former professor of mine, told me that every great movie, every great story has a smaller story at the beginning that lets you know what is coming. The beginning is actually the plot. I look for that now. This is how the movie starts out, with a monologue by the main character, Patrick Kenzie (played by Casey Affleck).
I always believed it was the things you don’t choose that makes you who you are.
Your city, your neighborhood, your family.
People here take pride in these things, like it was something they’d accomplished.
The bodies around their souls, the cities wrapped around those.
I lived on this block my whole life; most of these people have.
This city can be hard. When I was young, I asked my priest how you could get to heaven and still protect yourself from all the evil in the world. He told me what God said to His children. ‘You are sheep among wolves. Be wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves.’
When your job is to find people who are missing, it helps to know where they started. I find the people who started in the cracks and then fell through.
If I could have a little freedom to apply this to our lives as Christ followers, I will. We are sheep, we are souls wrapped in bodies within cities. Our duty and our call is to find those who start in the cracks; who are broken and damaged, who are lonely and scared, who are knowledgeable and ignorant who are identical to who we are apart from Christ. We all know where people start, we started there, we live there.
As of late there is no limit to the discussion about missional living and culturally relevant ministry, but at times it seems to be just about as productive as the presidential debates. While many pastors and church planters are putting legs to these ideas, there seems to be a disconnect between average Christians and how, exactly, we find people who are missing. Somewhere between the message at the worship gathering and sitting in a cubicle during the week we lose our drive to change the world for Christ.
I think this is exactly why the quote speaks so clearly to my soul. In the midst of a movie opener you hear practical theology; theology with arms and hands and compassion.
When we begin to grasp our relation to the Creator we see more clearly what lies ahead: our city, our neighborhood and our family, the people around us and their desperate need for redemption and restoration. We start where we are, on our block. We pull back the mask that hides our insecurities. We are reminded of our own brokenness and we listen when people say one thing and mean another. We hear the need in their cries and the joy in their victory, not because we acknowledge the shift in generational cultures or the convincing data from statistics and polls, but only because we care enough to be on mission. In this we apply God’s wisdom and fight for those who have fallen through the cracks.
How do you identify with the people that tend to fall through the cracks in your city, neighborhood or family?
You can watch the introduction to Gone Baby Gone here: