Recently, I asked members of the Go2Harvest Facebook group what military movie contains their favorite quote that can be analogized to spiritual things. Here’s one of mine from Reign of Fire, starring Christian Bale as Quinn Abercromby and Matthew McConaughey as Denton Van Zan:
Denton Van Zan: “Envy the country that has heroes, huh?! I say pity the country that needs ’em. What are you celebrating? One dragon down, three men dead? Oh, yeah. At that rate, we might just be getting somewhere in about 320 years. Is that what you want? You want a little accommodation? Unh-unh. These beasts live on ash. They feed on death. There’s no middle ground…not for them, not for us. And sure as hell not for my men who died out there today. But you go ahead. Have your little… soiree. Personally, you disgust me.”
Advancing God’s kingdom is not for wimps. Just look at the lives of the Twelve and the life of Paul and his crews. In Reign of Fire, Quinn is a survivor of the human holocaust initiated by dragons. He is tough, caring, and defensive. He’s a shepherd at heart, helping his fellow residents survive, even growing their own food. Denton Van Zan shows up claiming to have killed a dragon, which Quinn finds unbelievable. Van Zan is brash, tough, and offensive. He’s formerly an ordinary American turned warrior/dragon-slayer. Together they team up and do the unthinkable. Van Zan helps pull Quinn out of his defensive rut and go on the offensive.
Why do I like the quote? I see slaying dragons as analogous to destroying the works of the devil, that old serpent. There’s no middle ground in the war of the ages. We shouldn’t be happy with seeing only one person in our lifetime coming into the kingdom of God, just like Van Zan wasn’t content with the death of one dragon. Addition of souls into the kingdom won’t cut it. For us to fulfill the Great Commission, we’re going to have to see disciples multiply.
Second, this quote provides a great analogy for the priesthood of the believer and the end of the clergy/laeity distinction. Van Zan wants the ordinary folks to start taking up the fight to slay dragons, just like he did. He knows it’s possible. He has vision to see what others think is impossible – life without the rule of dragons. It’s time for ordinary believers take their places in the ranks of heroes and no longer rely on the superstar Christians to do the work God has destined for the church. I also see a call for ordinary believers to rise up, come out of defensive mode, attack the works of the Enemy, and start bringing freedom to the oppressed.
Finally, one can see the differences and gifting distinctions between Quinn and Van Zan. Quinn is clearly a protector and a shepherd (or pastor). He’s a gatherer and nurturer. Van Zan functions more like an apostle. He’s a warrior and a visionary. He’s advancing human rule through conflict. He’s offensive (as opposed to defensive) and aggressive. He’s a man with a plan, and he organizes others and travels the earth looking for others to join him in the fight. No matter the difference in their experiences and giftings, great things happen when Quinn and Van Zan finally work together on a common goal. The same can be true in the church – when apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers team up to work together.
For more on the need for aggressive leaders, check out Steve Addison’s recent article titled Movement Pioneers Are Aggressive.