What Brad Pitt taught me about church
I have a guilty confession to make. I like Brad Pitt movies. Not all of them, but enough to say I am a fan (Legends of the Fall, Snatch, Burn After Reading, Spy Game, Ocean’s 11). Perhaps that’s not so bad a confession to make, its on par with a middle-aged woman being a Twilight fan. We all know that its the sort of thing best left to teenage girls.
In one of my favorite movies, Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt plays Tristan, the wild middle brother who lives life “according to his own inner voice.” Frustrated by Tristan’s compelling nature Alfred (Aidan Quinn) bursts out, “I followed all of the rules, man’s and God’s. And you, you followed none of them. And they all loved you more.”
Alfred mirrors the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. He has complied his whole life by carefully following the tiniest letter of the law, leaving undone the more important things, and it has left him bitter.
I am Alfred.
I love the law because it is so much easier to meticulously pursue preciseness and long for the judgement than it is to want a personal god to come down and walk with me. What I am learning is that life in the kingdom is more similar to a good beer than it is to a list of rules. It is meant to be enjoyed. It must be entered into, consumed, not just studied and intellectually comprehended.
This sort of active involvement means change, and change means pain. I cannot remain as I am, I must trust that God is good (ah there is the rub) if I am to decide to see truth. The truth is that I cause a lot of pain by trying to protect myself, to look out for my own interests, and it is all because I do not trust that God will. And so I cling to my rules, and I retreat back to the bargaining chip of my rule-keeping to manipulate God to give me the things I want.
“Today Lord I pray that I would walk with you. I ask Lord that would see your goodness and chose it. That I would enter into your Kingdom life now, and not just uphold your laws. Allow me to become the kind of man that loves life and lives it with vigor and abundance, accepting that pain is sometimes part of that bargain. Amen.”