"You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved." Mark 13:13
Poor Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). In almost every Mission Impossible movie, he is forced to save the world while running underground, apart from his superiors in the United States intelligence agencies, due to some internal department mess-up or conspiracy. And once again in Ghost Protocol, he's still on the fringe. Poor guy.
From the outset, he needs to be broken out of a Russian prison where he has been sitting and waiting for his release. But just as soon as he tastes freedom, the entire Impossible Missions Force (IMF) gets disavowed due to a bombing at the Kremlin.
So Hunt, along with his new team of Carter (Paula Patton), Benji (Simon Pegg), and Brandt (Jeremy Renner), must figure out a way to avert nuclear war while not only being undercover, but being considered "criminals" by their own government. Yet they do their duty no matter the odds stacked up against them.
Would any of us do the same? Or when we're beaten down and disregarded by friend and foe alike, do we just want to crawl into some corner until it all passes?
Jesus knew this would happen to his disciples, too. He knew that, when the Romans came to imprison them, beat them, torture them, and seek to kill them, the temptation would be so strong to crawl into some corner until it all passed. He knew this is what could happen to anyone who is frightened or persecuted. It's natural and it's human.
So he looked at them and said, "Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved." (Mk. 13:12-13)
Jesus was saying: persecution will come, but you cannot cower. People will dislike you, get angry with you, and disavow you, but you must persevere and keep going. He was telling his disciples, and he tells us, to be like Ethan Hunt on the run.
It might be tempting to lay low until things get better - but that is not what Jesus calls us to do. We must hone our inner Ethan Hunt and still fight for justice, defend the defenseless, and save the world even when things aren't going our way. We cannot wait for the rain to pass to step out into the street. If we are truly a disciple of Christ, we must take a risk even when life hasn't settled down and even when we're on the run ourselves.
Too many people procrastinate today. Too many people want to wait - or at least they say they're waiting, but in the end don't do anything. One of the reasons Jesus instructed the disciples to persevere was because inaction breeds more inaction. If we don't do anything now, we may not do anything later - even if the rain passes, the persecution ends, and the days get better. If we persevere in the worst days, we will overcome on the best days. But if we sit back and cower in hard times, we may not able to get back up in the good times.
That is why we love to watch the Mission Impossible movies. It's not just about the exciting action and adventure scenes like the ones where Ethan Hunt is clinging to a skyscraper in Dubai over a hundred stories in the air, though those are certainly fun. We love these movies because Hunt and his crew take action when the odds are against them - and if and when they come out on top, the victory tastes even sweeter.
So if we find ourselves saying, I'll get to that when things slow down or when things are going our way or when we get a bit more financially stable, let us remember Ethan Hunt... or more importantly, Jesus of Nazareth. Let us remember that they were able to save our world when things weren't going so well. And if we seek to follow in those footsteps, the same must be said of us.
Sure... it's an impossible mission, but God has faith in us that we're up to the task. Let's not let God down and accept our mission. Ready?