Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tombstone - Revenge and the Reckoning

Revenge and the Reckoning

My favorite movie of all time is Tombstone.  I have always been drawn to shoot ‘em up movies, especially westerns with a great storyline.  Tombstone has it all.  The deeper I take a look at the movies on my top ten list, the more I see that most of them have a similar underlying subject.  Braveheart, The Patriot, Man on Fire, Legends of the Fall, The Count of Monte Cristo, etc.  They are all stories on the reckoning of a situation or in a sense, revenge!  Why am I so drawn to this subject?  Why does it make me feel so good to see the bad guy get what he deserves?
There are so many verses in the Bible where God shows us that we don’t need to repay evil with evil (Romans 12:17).  Revenge is not what God wants us to pursue when wrong has been done to us or a friend or family member.  For most men this just seems impossible to do.  My sinful flesh almost always wants to take it into my own hands in these situations.  Most of my fights in my adolescent years were me taking up for someone or trying to reckon a situation.  Is it fueled by Pride or fueled out of love for the one you are defending?  Either way, biblically it seems that revenge is never what would should strive for.   We are called to love our enemies (Luke 6:27).  We know God is merciful, why can’t we be merciful to others.  God showed His grace and mercy on me in my salvation and continues to show it through the truth in the Gospel daily.  The truth is it is still a hard sin to battle in a man, but we should resolve to battle it daily.  In the Old Testament, Jonah gets an order from God to go to Nineveh and tell the people that God sees their evil and it has come up against him (Jonah 1:2).  What does Jonah do?  He flees.  Why does he run?  Most people would love the chance to point out evil they see, to be God’s messenger.  Truth be told, Jonah wanted these evildoers in Nineveh to get what they deserved.  So, what was the problem?  Jonah knew two of God’s many great attributes.  He knew the truth of God’s grace and mercy!  Jonah knew that God was going to show mercy to the Ninevites.  He didn’t want this, he wanted God to take revenge on their sins against Him.  He wanted to see the fullness of God’s wrath on all the sinners there.  (Side note:  This deeper look at the story of Jonah is told perfectly in the book Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian, get it.  It’s awesome.)  So, if God shows this kind of mercy to people (including you and me) who sin against him why can’t we strive to trust Christ for the justice in personal instances.  Romans 9:15 says, “For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  All of that Truth being said, I will still struggle with this issue and probably always will during my time here on earth.
So back to Tombstone.  A “peak moment” in the movie is when Wyatt has just shot and killed about four men while he was being fired upon with zero cover while he was in the middle of the creek.  After this scene, Doc, Texas Jack, and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson (love the names by the way) are talking about what happened.  Texas Jack asks where Wyatt is and Doc says, “…down by the creek, walking on water.”  This is followed by Turkey Creek saying,” well if it were my brothers I’d want revenge too.”  Doc then goes on to say the kicker, “make no mistake, it’s not revenge he’s after, it’s the reckoning.”  I’ve always loved that line.  It pumps me up every time.  They see Wyatt’s chase of the Cowboys as revenge for his brothers, but it was truly Wyatt wanting the reckoning.  The reckoning is better than revenge, it’s the final decision.  The ending of the situation.  Wyatt was gonna get this reckoning of everything by seeing a red sash and killing the man wearing it!  Bringing an end to the terror the Cowboys have caused, not only to his family, but the whole town.  A true story of revenge and reckoning that I love to see over and over.
Now what does the Gospel say about our reckoning and our justice.  If we are all being honest, we are sinners against God and don’t deserve eternity with Him.  He is perfect and blameless, Jesus lived His life this way battling against the same temptations and human urges.  He is victorious over Sin.  The Bible says the wages of Sin are death.  Our sin deserves the punishment of Hell as our reckoning for these wrongs.  The Gospel tells a different story.  Through our freely given Grace and Salvation by Faith in Jesus, we are not going to feel God’s wrath.  Not because of any good works we have done, as a whole our sins are what killed God’s son.  What would you do if someone killed your son?  Honestly, I would be looking for revenge.  Here is what God’s grace through the Gospel does for us:
Romans again says in Chapter 4:5-8, “to the one that does not work, but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is RECKONED as RIGHTEOUS.  So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God RECKONS RIGHTEOUS apart from works.  Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered;  blessed is the man against whom God will not RECKON his sin.”
*A daily reminder of the Truth in the Gospel will help in our fits of wanting revenge instead of putting our trust in God’s sovereign justice.

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