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In the movie, A Few Good Men, a sergeant and a private stand on trial for killing a fellow marine. Their lawyer, played by Tom Cruise, attempts to demonstrate that the murder was actually the result of an order that the two marines had received from a higher-up. The order to help train the fellow marine ended up causing the death of that marine. When Tom Cruise begins to investigate, the prosecuting attorney quickly tries to strike a plea bargain, offering to reduce the sentence from 20 years down to six months.


Tom Cruise goes to tell his clients the good news, that in six months they would be home free. Harold, the marine sergeant, refuses the plea bargain and chooses instead to stand on trial. Tom Cruise is mortified. If the case went to trial, they would loose and likely spend a lifetime behind bars. In a powerful point in the movie, Tom Cruise looks Harold in the eye and asks him why he would be so stupid as to refuse a plea bargain of six months. Harold responds, “Unit, Core, God, Country.” Tom Cruise looks at him and says, “What?” He repeats, “Unit, Core, God, Country.” Harold explains that this is their code. The center of marine values is “Unit, Core, God, Country.” Harold had followed the code, and if following the code meant that he would spend the rest of his life in a military prison, then so be it.” So Tom Cruise tells him, “If you want to go to jail for the rest of your life, you go right ahead.”


I’m wondering if we aren’t sometimes like Tom Cruise in that movie. Instead of seeing our mission as a driving force behind all we do, we look at it as a nice slogan on a piece of paper. I find evidence of this when I see people putting their personal agendas ahead of our mission as a church. When we focus more on what the church can do for us rather than what we can do for the mission of the church, then our mission becomes irrelevant.


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