The Christian Life is a Buddy Comedy

Buddy Comedy


I am convinced that the Christian life is a buddy comedy. You know, the kind of movie where a guy[1] bemoans his meaningless existence[2] until his father[3] sends him on a mission to prove himself[4], with an annoying tag-a-long at his side.

So off they go on a quest of discovery and danger, and by the end they have grown to be good buddies, and their budding friendship has grown them.

Now, I don’t mean “comedy” exactly in the sense of the film genre, but more like in the great (read: fancy) literature of ages past, where “comedy” meant there was a happy ending.[5] Even the phrase “happy ending” has got to be adjusted a little.

This isn’t the weak stuff of romantic comedies, but of a hard-fought victory, a well-earned triumph – the kind that can only be found on the other side of pain and sacrifice and heartache. Just consider how Paul wrote to his buddy Timothy as the “time of [his] departure” had come:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 6-8a).

And this crown is not just for heroes like Paul, but for “all who have loved [the Lord’s] appearing” (8b).

Yes, each of us is responsible before God to endure in our faith, and yet there is camaraderie in this “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). Paul charges the saved to “[b]ear one another’s burdens,” and yet insists that “each will have to bear his own load” (Galatians 6:2,5).

None of us gets to sit in the stands and cheer until we’ve already finished the race, and yet we will spend a good portion of the track carrying others – or being carried.

The Lord of the Rings may be more of an epic than a “buddy comedy,” but I can’t help but think of Samwise Gamgee. Truth be told, I can’t hardly stand Frodo, the central character charged with destroying an evil ring in a menacing mountain under the nose[6] of the enemy. But the task is his, and Sam respects that.

My second-favorite scene of the whole series[7][8] is toward the end, where Frodo can’t go any further. Sam picks him up and says, “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” And spoiler alert, Frodo makes it to the end and destroys the ring. That is comedic, in the truest sense of the word.

The Christian life is a buddy comedy. Or, as John Piper has put it, eternal security is a community project. God uses means to achieve His purposed ends, and He means to get us home in one piece.

What a heavy and glorious burden we have to our brothers and sisters in Christ! To know that their perseverance and final salvation includes our efforts can be daunting. We truly ought to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

But this responsibility shouldn’t lead us to paralyzing anxiety or frantic busy-ness to ensure that everyone “stays saved.” Consider the verse just before that last one: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,” why? “for He who promised is faithful” (23).

The whole chapter emphasizes the finality of Christ’s one-time offering for sins! The author[9] writes, “For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (14). In Christ’s death, He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Most of us know that our salvation is “already but not yet,” but maybe we ought to add a third dimension: “certain as the dawn.”

Do we do anything in our justification? Of course! We repent and believe! Do we do anything in our sanctification? Of course! We trust and obey! Do we do anything in our glorification? Of course! We endure to the end!

And other believers are at work in all of these, too – preaching, pleading, persuading, encouraging, exhorting, and rebuking.

We don’t enter some kind of spiritual holding cell when we believe; we enter the octagon, facing the strongest opponents our enemy can muster. But we’ve got friends in the crowd, and a Coach in our corner.

The Christian life is a buddy comedy, but we don’t have to fear that our efforts will be lacking. After all, our sovereign Lord called us His friends and sent the omnipotent “Helper” to us (John 14:16).

That why we are charged to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling,” – worship words – “for it is God who works in [us], both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12b,13).

Believers absolutely must persevere to reach the end, and believers absolutely will persevere, armed with the ongoing help of our brothers and sisters and our own hard-fought, Spirit-empowered efforts, because Christ didn’t die just to start the story off. He writes, directs, and produces the whole movie – and it’s a comedy.

 


[1] It was always a guy in the 90’s.

[2] Or whatever other issue.

[3] The Bible talked about daddy issues before Freud, thank you very much.

[4] Or whatever.

[5] Did they tell people that plays or stories were comedies or tragedies before they saw/read them? Spoilers, man!

[6] Or rather, eye.

[7] I haven’t read the books; I’ve only seen the movies. Yes, I know I’m missing out. No, I will not read them any time soon. Yes, I know Tim Keller reads them every year while also writing about 20 books of his own. No, I do not have any more excuses, other than not being Tim Keller.

[8] If you share this article and ask what my favorite scene is, maybe I’ll tell you. (Wow, that was shameless [Tried to footnote this parenthetical at the end of my footnote. Turns out you can’t do that. I may have a problem. But seriously, I want to reward the people who read the footnotes. You’re my tribe.].)

[9] I’m hoping it was Paul and Apollos writing together, in true buddy comedy fashion.

Advertisements