One of my Dad’s favorite movies is Sergeant York. Maybe it’s just because I grew up on it, but I really do love that movie. Black and white, Gary Cooper, quotable lines, true story- I mean, it’s a great movie!
So a couple of weeks ago I was feeling a little nostalgic and I pulled it out to re-watch. If you don’t know the story line, you really should find a copy and watch it. Alvin York is a new Christian and in the movie had a very practical way of looking at Scripture. He is a strong pacifist (despite being an excellent marksman) and had asked for an exemption from military duty. I was at the part where Alvin gets the letter back from the government that says he has been denied his request for exemption. He is talking to his pastor and is pretty upset about the whole situation: [read with Tennessee accent; you’ll thank me later]
Pastor Pile: “War’s way to the other side of the ocean, Alvin. Lots of things can happen before you get there. You put your trust in the Lord, and He’ll look out for you.”
Alvin: “I done forgot the Lord! I ain’t never gonna forget him again!”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that line! The irony of it seemed hilarious but at the same moment the truth hit me smack in the face! I wondered how many times I’ve been fighting for something that I truly believe is right with all that I am but I’ve “done forgot the Lord!” How many times have I been working on something for church, etc and not had the right attitude because I’ve forgotten the entire reason I’m there? How many times have I just gone through the motions. Ouch, Alvin.
Another priceless quote from that movie is this one:
Alvin: “I ain’t a-goin’ to war. War is killin’ and the Book is agin’ killin’, so war is agin’ the Book.”
Pastor Pile: “Alvin, you’ve got the use’n’ kind of religion not the meet’n’ house kind.”
Oh gosh! I choked on my water at that! I’ve got enough nerve to say that most Americans have the “meeting house” kind of religion, not the “using” kind. They are good with the Bible on Sundays (as long as it’s done in time for sports games) and holidays, but heaven forbid God’s Word actually has a role of authority in their life. Like the Jews in Jesus’ day who wanted signs, we want to hold on to the promises of the Bible without caring who Jesus is or what he requires from us.
I love Alvin in the movie. I know it’s not fully accurate to the true story and now you are probably sitting here thinking I’m a huge pacifist. (Guess you should watch the movie, huh??) But I love how literally he takes the Bible. How fully he believes every word in it and applies it to his life. It challenged me to do the same thing. ‘Cause I really want to have the use’n’ kind of religion!