An Ear, An Ear, The Kingdom for an Ear

I am going to quote something completely out of context, and use it for my own purposes. I feel completely justified in doing so, mostly because it is not scripture, it is not some “important” scholar, it’s just a line from a television show. I am pretty sure that it is rooted in a philosophy that I do not agree with, but I also think that there is a nugget of truth buried in there.

” if nothing we do matters… , then all that matters is what we do. ‘Cause that’s all there is. What we do. Now. Today. … All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because, I don’t think people should suffer as they do. Because, if there’s no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.” Angel, Angel episode Epiphany

The introduction isn’t quite true. I have given enough context to show that I am planning to take it out of context. As a Christian, I clearly believe that there is a bigger meaning behind things. Our lives do not take place in some sort of nihilistic wasteland.

On the other hand, we do live out a faith where the finish line has been set in stone. No matter what I decide to do, we are on a trajectory where on the way to the end the people of God will be rejected in a very tangible way by the world at large. There may be some ups and downs before that happens, but that all amounts to static. Ultimately, we as individual believers are not going to set up God’s Kingdom on earth. Further, no matter what I do, the day will come (and what a glorious day it will be) when Jesus comes back in all of his majesty to take what is rightfully his.

We have no control over our temporal defeat or over our eternal victory. In that sense, “nothing that we do matters”.

What then?

“… all that matters is what we do.”

The idea that our actions do not determine the final result does not diminish us, it sets us free to do the good that we can in the cracks and crevices of history without the weight of feeling tasked with saving the world.


Peter cut someone’s ear off because he thought that it was his job to help usher in the Kingdom. Trust me, Jesus has that one under control.

We don’t need to go around chopping people’s ears off for the sake of the Kingdom. That will only get us the reputation of “ear amputators”. Instead, we can do something that matters.

“All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because, I don’t think people should suffer as they do.”

That sounds a lot like being the Good Samaritan. That sounds an awful lot like “loving your neighbor as yourself”.

10 thoughts on “An Ear, An Ear, The Kingdom for an Ear

  1. I can’t add anything to that besides the standard “Amen”. Well said.

    And maybe our loving our neighbour will occasionally result in His love (which is our motivation for doing so) being responded to.
    But we’re not in charge of that result, either.

    On another note (semi-related), back in my “new Christian” days I used to censor myself in the areas of music, tv, etc…. only allowing myself the approved Christian material. When I finally grew up, I was able to see that so much of this media actually has undertones of God’s mysteries running through it. So many “secular” songs can just as easily speak of the kingdom, and as you have demonstrated the same applies to tv.
    I think our freedom in Christ is a wonderful thing.

    • One of my favorite examples of that is a brother saying that he hasn’t seen Gran Torino because he heard there was a lot of swearing.

      Mostly, entertainment tries to relate to us as human beings, so it is bound to address many of the same issues that we meet in the scriptures. It might not always mesh with our worldview, but there is often something meaty to chew on.

  2. Gran Torino is a great movie – although I didn’t care for the ending. But that’s cause I’m not necessarily watching a movie for realism, I watch more for the whole “good wins over evil” things, or “the guy gets the girl” thing.
    I guess I like cheesy, that way….

    • “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

      The verse that makes me love that movie… and even the heavy handed way that he falls at the end that tells you that they meant to convey that message.

  3. It is not our place to hack off ears… or police morals, or threaten eternal damnation… “Instead, we can do something that matters.” I love that truth 😀

    PS Extra points for the ‘Angel’ reference 😉

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