Saving Private Ryan

Luke 9:24-25
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life
for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the
whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

In the movie Saving Private Ryan a unit of soldiers are sent to rescue a fellow soldier; but unknown to him has lost several of his brothers leaving him as the last of his mother’s sons.  These men endure hell on the battlefield during their search to find and save this young man.  This band of brothers risk it all to save Ryan and keep him alive as they lose some of their own men in the process. This journey even forces a few men in the platoon to come face to face with their fears and shortcomings. I’m not writing this to later describe the parallels of how Jesus Christ risked it all to save us. I brought up the movie as a description of how we approach life and the business of saving ourselves at any cost. Losing Ryan after Ryan, or dream after dream, hope after hope, plan after plan, expectation after expectation, all of our approvals, status, respect, comfort; we go all in to save the last Ryan left in our lives.

When we are able to do certain things or participate in a particular activities we get a sense of fulfillment.  Things seem right in the world, these good things become addicting and it takes a whole string of them to give us a feeling of living a good life. But in this world these things come with a price. Sometimes we have to either give up or go without certain things.  But not having it all is not what we want and give us the smell of “new money” and not wealthy living.  The goal is to not having to lack anything, give up anything, and do without anything not having to deny yourself of any pleasures in order to have a good life.  A life by the way that is contingent on the performing of certain special activities. Thus we seek to save our existence by making meaningful memories and having the type of experiences that make us feel good.   We have defined life as something that hinges on pure emotions of the heart.  What God has made eternal, we have shoved into a finite box of concurring events of instance gratification. We have turned a human into a dog, an animal that is only as happy as his last happiness.

It is the approach of the end of our rope or the end of ourselves that seem to put us into a frenzy as the moments become few and far between. It would seem that all of life is the fight for significance. On the surface it may seem to be a battle of resources, finances, long term wealth, living standards and things of that nature as our “world” seem to be controlled by money. We can’t be seen as a failure, we can’t let it end like this.  What are we doing wrong?  We are making so many changes and thinking positively.   We have changed our friends, starting new ventures, new outlooks and perspectives.  Fighting back the feeling of hopelessness we continue to press, because we have to save Private Ryan.   We have lost too much along the way to turn around, we must save ourselves. We have foolishly attached money to the root cause of our losing young Ryan. But in a way money has something to do with it but its involvement has nothing to do with the solution. The pursuit of it leads to many of the causes of despair and anxiety as we can’t trust anyone with our happiness. Our significances has been wickedly attached to being able to do certain things that require us to fall in line with certain worldly and cultural standards. The idea of being able to be all that we desire to be blinds us to what we are really missing. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in the human heart, there is a longing in all of us that is infinite and cannot be satisfied by finite things.   Adam and Eve were told a lie that God was holding back something that they already had. The very world he now dwells in is still lying about what we really need and how to get it.

If we are truly honest there is only one way to guarantee that we can save ourselves. Be perfect. Only a perfect god-like being can achieve all the goals and maintain control and order in their lives to be successful to actually save themselves, as well as gain the significance we crave. Of course we don’t believe that so we change the rules to make it easier. We have defined what is peace, happiness, joy, love, and all those things as having of resources; which in turn make us significant. Yet, we will say that we don’t care what people think but we still care what we think of ourselves; the biggest liars in our own lives. King Solomon wrote an entire book in the bible detailing how the things we still think really matter don’t matter at all. So when we hear things like “have faith”, “trust God”, “Jesus is our peace and joy”, “his grace is sufficient”, “look to the Lord”, “focus on Jesus”, and “preach the Gospel to yourself”; we say that doesn’t help me get the resources of this world to save my life. God has graciously given us Ecclesiastes to show us the other side of an equation I recently seen; Jesus + Nothing = Everything. When we put things into the variable, “Nothing”, we actually perform some algebra and we get Jesus – Jesus + Nothing = Everything – Jesus. This leaves us with Nothing because Colossians 1:15-19 says that Jesus is the image of God, and by Him all things were created in both heaven and earth, it goes on to say that in Him “all things hold together” so Jesus the Everything. Jesus is the everything who is also the eternal, who according to the Gospel came reconcile to himself all things by his death to present us holy and blameless and above reproach before him. Which means that if we never have all that the world says we need, not even ourselves and our judgments against ourselves can make us not significant. The world offers security in resources, but Jesus holds our security in his hands and it has no end in sight.

So before Luke 9:24, Jesus gives a description of what it looks like for someone who has faith in him by grace to walk in light of the gospel. The verse is not talking about what we must do but what we will do in response to the love of Christ that cannot be taken away when we stubble. So when we think of King Solomon calling the pursuit of wealth, pleasures, things and the like in an attempt to fill the void that only God can in our attempt to save ourselves we actually lose everything. “For whoever would save his life will lose it”, that everything is Jesus Christ. “but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”; the gospel says that we are reconcile back to God and in 2 Peter 1:3 promises that those who trust in Christ are granted all things that pertain to life and godliness and that we will be partakers of the divine nature. When we lose of life for Christ’s sake we gain all things that are need for this life and what is needed for our holiness. The gospel answers the questions and ends the desires of trying to find what only God can give. When the grace of God grabs a hold of our heart, the desires for this world and our lies are squeezed out. But every day we battle against our flesh as it tries to get us to turn away from the shepherd who leads us. The gospel is everything because it causes everything to submit to the Lord of everything.  If our meaning of everything boils down to the comfort of a finite existence or our reward on earth, the infinite nature of the gospel is wasted on us.  How can knowing Jesus Christ lived, died, was buried, rose, and now sits at the Father’s right hand help our right now?


Matthew 6:1, 3 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,


Our pursuit to save ourselves is our practicing of our external righteousness before others. The approval of men and the honor they temporarily give us, is our reward that is our heaven on earth and it will not last. The alternative to the gospel which calls us to deny yourself, taking up the cross and following Christ is saving your life and losing it as we try to gain the whole world which can be gone in an instance. The gospel helps because it shows us that our current state of worry is a dead end street and that all that really matters we already have. The gospel helps because it shows us that the material thing will not and does not satisfy because we were created and saved for greater. The gospel helps because honestly we are already but not yet, meaning while we walk this earth God dwells within us and is in fellowship with Christ. There is a name card on your seat and Christ will ensure you make it. The gospel says whatever we lack now or suffer now ultimately prepares us for tomorrow until tomorrow carries over into God’s presence. The gospel says that earthly failure can never tarnish a heavenly crown nor does it change who we are in Christ.

Luke 10:20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” The ultimate results of the gospel with all the things that we are given, even power of evil spirits, Jesus reminds us that the greatest is this… Our names are written in heaven and cannot be erased. By the grace of God we are saved from the torment we put ourselves through as well as from the wrath of God because Jesus took it for us. Even while we lied to ourselves about not needed a God to die for us, Christ did it. Even while we exhausts ourselves trying to make ourselves matter and to make ourselves important. Even while we run to the end of our rope in an effort to win acceptance, approval and to assimilate into a world that doesn’t care for us; Christ die and lived for us. The gospel is this message, it is a message that shouts “don’t take on the mission of saving Private Ryan, because Jesus has already saved him”. God is telling us to stop because we can’t save ourselves because we are dead and without the power needed to do so. We are dead and lost, every touch of our hands kill what we touch as we try to bring life where life can’t live. But God crushed the serpent’s head and the cost of having his heel bruised. The gospel makes us alive by grace together with Christ and Christ seats us with Him together in the heavenly places as our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. We are as good as there, heirs to the kingdom saved for eternity.

Ephesians 2

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead [f]in our transgressions, made us alive together [g]with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [h]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

5 Responses to “Saving Private Ryan”
  1. Hej, det er måske lidt et åndssvagt spørgsmål, men jeg eren århusiansk bygningsdesign-ingeniør-studerende og er vildtinteresseret i om du bor i ..? Vi har nemlig været der medstudiet mens de byggede det, og det var for vildt! HilsenCharlotte


  2. fargo audi says:

    Je partage ton avis, Christophe: le changement se fera dans la douleur, parce que (et c’est dommage) c’est la seule sensation qui nous fait réagir collectivement. Et même alors, la bataille sera rude entre les partageux et les usurpateurs.Je ne crois pas plus, Patrick, aux bienfaits immanents du progrès moral qu’à ceux du progrès technologique. L’Histoire valide à 99% l’idée de Marx selon laquelle nos consciences sont modelées par les conditions matérielles, même si le 1% restant nous laisse l’espoir (trompeur?) d’autres lendemains.


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