Saving Private Ryan
The 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan opens with a family helplessly following their distraught elderly father through a military graveyard. When he locates a particular grave he falls to his knees in palpable distress. It is a difficult scene to watch, and all the more so when we return to this scene
2 hours later after discovering that the anguished old man was rescued 40 years earlier by a company of soldiers who died to bring him home. Seconds before the jolting return to the graveyard scene we see a dying Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) propped up against a tank uttering his final words to the young Private whose rescue had cost so many lives, “James . . . earn this. Earn it.” The moral of this story and the source of the man’s torment are obvious. How can one possibly earn a gift like this? The story of Private Ryan is a primal tale of Man's eternal effort to be good, to earn or deserve acceptance with God. How often Christians are tormented by the voice of the Accuser whispering "earn this". But the grace of God makes "earning this" impossible. How long will we struggle to rid ourselves of sin by our own willpower only to have Jesus say "if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me" (John 13:8). Remember Peter's reply? "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head"
Our Christian lives will be a journey to learn how good God is and how bad we are. We can never deserve or earn what God in Christ has given us, and the gulf between our goodness and His goodness becomes more apparent the older we get. In the end all we have or need is His goodness. We would do well to be as overwhelmed at the price of our salvation as Private Ryan was of his, because, just like him we can never earn it, nor do we have to. Isn’t He wonderful??