Tom Cruise’s new movie is premiering this week: “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning.” But it should be called: “Let’s Go Watch Tom Cruise Try to Kill Himself – AGAIN.”
Cruise, who does his own stunts, has parachuted from 25,000 feet; held his breath underwater for 6.5 minutes; flown strapped to the hull of an airplane; hung off the world’s tallest building – and now he’s gonna ride a motorcycle off a cliff.
Matt Damon once asked Cruise how he gets permission to do what he does. Cruise said, “During one shoot, the Stunt Coordinator confronted me, saying: ‘You’re NOT going to do that. It’s too dangerous.’” Damon said, “But that stunt was in the movie. How was that possible?’” Cruise replied: “We got another Stunt Coordinator.”
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for doing your best and upping your game; pushing the envelope and being all you can be. But there’s such a thing as pressing your luck too far before you become the punchline of Jeff Foxworthy’s joke: “ You know what the last words of a redneck are? Hey, y’all, watch this!”
Cruise knows he’s walking the razor’s edge. He could make a box office flop. It happens. But what if a second movie flops? Then he’s done. Some younger rising star will eagerly step over his fading star to take his place.
Cruise says he likes doing daredevil stunts, and I believe him. But I also suspect that underneath all that can-do enthusiasm is a calculated, controlling voice that bedevils Cruise, whispering: Keep doing more or you could lose it all.
That hellish voice speaks to me. I bet you’ve heard it, too: Gotta prove my worth. Gotta do more, be more, earn more, have more. Because… if I don’t, I will… lose out; be proven a phony; be a disappointment; or worse yet be someone who isn’t worth anything. After all, your worth is determined by what you do, right?
Thank God, another Voice – a Heavenly One – speaks to us, saying: “You are my beloved. With you, I am well-pleased.” You, who look to Christ; who long to belong to God: By grace, you do! Now and forever. Baptism is the external sign of that eternal truth. By grace in baptism, your sins are history. Your new life is here. You are a new creation. Loved by God – now and forever.
Your worth is not determined by: How much you make; what you drive; where you live; how much money you have; or what anyone thinks of you. You don’t have to prove your worth! You are of incomparable worth – because the Living God loves you. Nothing you can do can make God love you any more. Not even if you ride a motorcycle off a cliff. Nothing you can do can make God love you any less. By grace through faith in Christ, you are saved. Period. You are forgiven – redeemed – saved – loved. By grace, you are that because you are his.
Who needs their name in the marquee lights when your name is already written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27)?
I hate to break it to you, but there are more no ladders to climb. You are already at the top. Even if the world says otherwise. Especially if the world says otherwise. Who cares? Because God says: You are my beloved. Jesus says: You are my sibling. The Holy Spirit says: Don’t slap one of the world’s false labels on yourself. Just be who you are in Christ. Don’t lose your life chasing the world’s booby prizes. Don’t be afraid of missing out or not having enough – because the Lord is your Shepherd; therefore, you shall lack for nothing (Psalm 23:1). Don’t be afraid of anything – not even death – because Jesus Christ is risen today. And because he lives, you also shall live (John 14:19).
There’s nothing you have to do because it’s all grace. It’s all mercy. It’s all sheer gift. We can’t earn it – or lose it. All we can do is say thanks – and then live a life of thanks by freely sharing that gift, that grace, that love with God, neighbor, and creation.
There’s nothing to prove. Nothing to fear. Nothing to lose. Because nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
You’re free. You’re saved. You’re loved. You’re home.