My wife and I were able to see all the Oscar©-nominated films before the telecast. It was fun to sit back on Sunday night and see if the “academy” agreed with our assessment of greatness (we picked a majority of the winners, but disagreed with the voters for the night’s biggest awards). All the movies were different in style and in substance. Some had great storylines, some had great acting and some had great images. Despite their differences, they all had something in common. If I could sum up all eight of these movies in a single word my choice would be ‘passion’.
We witnessed the passion of a soldier defending his men. We witnessed the passion of an actor honing his craft. We witnessed the passion of a young man surviving adolescence. We witnessed the exploits of a man passionate for the finer things in life. We witnessed the passion of a mathematician absorbed in creating a ‘thinking machine’. We witnessed the passion of a cosmologist pursuing a single equation that explains everything. We witnessed the passion of a leader bringing dignity to every human being. We witnessed the passion of a conservatory student longing to be as good as Buddy Rich.
After spending sixteen hours in darkened theaters with these masterful stories, I am questioning myself: what am I passionate about? What would I be willing to sacrifice my life for in order to secure? What would I be willing to sacrifice my reputation for in order to gain? What would I be willing to sacrifice my wellbeing for in order to achieve? What can I learn from the real life depictions of Chris Kyle, Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking or Martin Luther King, Jr.? What can I see in myself through the fictional accounts of a washed up actor, a kid, a lobby boy or an aspiring jazz musician? Am I passionate about anything?
While I cannot imagine playing the drums until my hands bleed or risking death by practicing civil disobedience, I can see that there are hills in my life that I am willing to die for. Just off the top of my head, I am passionate about protecting my family, about providing hope to the hopeless and about proclaiming my faith. I want to live in such a way that I would be known for my love for my family, my neighbors and my God. It probably will never be caught on film, but we all ought to live lives full of passion for something.
Those of us within the Christian faith have the supreme model of passion. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, we ought to be…
“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
There is one who so passionately loves us and seeks to save us from sin, death and Satan that he willingly laid down his life and his reputation to secure the joy of our reunion with the Father in heaven.
I think there might have even been a movie about the passion of the Christ.