About 15 years ago a movie came out called “First Knight.” It starred Sean Connery, Richard Gere and Julia Ormond and was a retelling of the story of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Connery plays Arthur, Ormond Gwynevere and Gere Lancelot. The movie begins in a small English village where Lancelot (Gere) is putting on a display of swordsmanship. At this point he appears to travel from village to village making money off of the sword tricks and fighting skills he is able to perform, many of which involve great risk. After his final act in this one particular town, one of awe-inspiring skill, a young man approaches him and asks what he needed to do to become a great swordsman and fighter like Lancelot. Lancelot looks at the young man and says, “You must do three things. First, you must train hard and put in the time to develop your skill.” To this the young man replies, “I can do that.” Lancelot continues by then adding, “Second, you must understand and watch closely, so that you can see the split second when you must make your move, and you must not hesitate.” Again the young man says, “I can do that.” Then Lancelot looks at the young man a bit more somberly and says, “And third, you must not care whether you live or die.” To this the young man does not reply, but after a few moments lowers his head and turns to walk away. Lancelot had become a swordsman of such skill and ability ultimately because he wasn’t afraid if he died or not. He wasn’t afraid to risk as a result.
There is such a great biblical principle at work here. A point far more of us need to be mindful of. Little that is great and memorable is accomplished without risk. Even in the Bible, the great stories we have are the stories of men who trust God and fear not what the world might do to them: David and Goliath, Daniel and lion’s den, Shardach, Meshach and Abed-nego, Elijah on Mount Carmel, and the list could go on and on.
I remember when this thought became significant to me. The school shooting that took place at Columbine occurred about the time I was in college. Hearing the stories of the young ladies who were murdered because of their acknowledgement of Jesus made me question whether I would do the same. In my gut, I didn’t think I would have done the same if that moment came for me at that time in my life. Through the ensuing years I have found myself far more secure in my faith and more mindful of the importance of learning to see loss (Phil. 3:7-8) and death (Phil. 1:21) as gain.
I have come to learn that a Christian that sees death and loss as gain is a Christian that is useful to God to accomplish something significant for the kingdom of God. Think about it. What is the world supposed to do with this person? If you kill them, you’re giving them something they not only don’t fear, but embrace. If you beat them or hurt them or take everything away from them, they rejoice because they earn treasure in heaven. Those who lose their life on this earth gain it in heaven. It’s all gain for them. The world can hold no sway over them. Who can accomplish more than this person? Who is more powerful (By the way, this is true freedom. Who is freer than this man? No one holds them captive. Such a great picture of one of several dimensions to freedom in Christ.)?
The Christian that is useful to the Lord is the one that fears no loss, that fears no death. These are means to gain. The world may not know what to do with you, but God will. And you will accomplish much for the kingdom. You will not be held captive by all of the trivial things that restrain us from being faithful to the proclamation of the gospel. You will not be a slave to those who hold your very security and life over your head. Let us learn to see loss and death as gain. For the glory of God and the advance of His kingdom.
Note: Image is that of William Tyndale, burned at the stake in England for translating the Bible into English.