Your mission, should you choose to accept it
Ilsa: “You don't understand what you are involved in.” Ethan: “I don't understand what I'm involved in? “I don't understand what I'm involved in?! “What am I involved in?” IMF agent Ethan Hunt wasn’t the only person who had no idea. Neither did I. The storyline of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the sixth and best film in this highly successful franchise, was simply too intellectually challenging for me. To quote the review in the Guardian. There are huge amounts of plot entanglements, disentanglements and re-entanglements here, but that is not the point. This is all about action and spectacle and viewed on an IMAX screen these certainly deliver.” I must say I love the genre featuring, to quote an unnamed source from the CIA, “a bunch of grown men in rubber masks playing trick-or-treat”. Lots of action with the statutory car chase of course, like James Bond or Jason Bourne but never taking itself too seriously. More like Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead which also feature comedian/actor Simon Pegg. I’m not giving anything away in saying that Tom Cruise succeeds in his mission against awesome odds and saves the world. I’m not sure though whether, to use the old parlance, he gets the girl. Let’s just say his relationships are complicated. Like the original MI of the 1960’s television series each episode begins with Ethan Hunt being given a task before the message device self-destructs five seconds later:
Mission Commander Swanbeck in Mission: Impossible 2 makes it very clear: “Mr. Hunt, this isn't mission difficult, it's mission impossible. ‘Difficult’ should be a walk in the park for you.” But to quote his latest adversary, archcriminal and archtalented Solomon Lane: “I wonder, did you ever choose not to? The end you've always feared is coming. And the blood will be on your hands. The fallout of all your good intentions.” But Ethan Hunt/Tom Cruise always accepts, even though it means doing his own stunts. The mission is always too important for him simply to walk away, however daunting the odds. Ethan is always upto it as an example to any disciple of Jesus. In fact, we are called to serve in impossible situations – for the simple reason we are tasked by the God of the impossible. The word ‘Impossible' has a fine Biblical heritage. Even in the final book of the Old Testament, the prophet Zechariah delivers a message of hope to his people in disarray: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the Lord of hosts?” Clearly the answer is NO, it’s not impossible for God, the Lord of heaven and earth. So God amazingly commits himself to his wayward people: “I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 8:6f). God relishes the challenge. But as we saw in last week’s blog, God chooses to do the impossible even through us. So the New Testament opens with the young Mary being given a mission, one which to all intents and purposes seems impossible – to bear a child without a human father. The angel (i.e. messenger) Gabriel could have easily have said “Your mission, should you choose to accept it. . . “ As he explains “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37). But Gabriel isn’t just informing Mary, he is asking her permission. God’s strategy of rescuing the world, “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1: 10) relies on this young peasant girl in Nazareth saying “Yes.” Which she does. So Mary responds, in the words of the Message translation: “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say." This, quite remarkably, is how God works – he asks for our permission, he relies on our deciding to say “Yes.” He does not force our hand or manipulate our good intentions. However, the task ahead may well be daunting, even impossible. “Can I do this?” The answer, of course, is no – not by yourself. For to quote Jesus: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). However, if we are tasked by Jesus we are assured of the resources of the Kingdom God no less. So the question we ask “Is God calling me to this?” And if the answer is Yes, then it’s a walk in the park.