Following Jesus On The “Bridge Of Spies”

It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what people think. You know what you did.  

Tom Hanks’ character James Donovan utters these words to a young POW towards the end of the excellent movie “Bridge Of Spies”. The soldier had been trying to explain to Donovan that he did not waver from his loyalty to America during his captivity.

os-bridge-of-spies-trailer-tom-hanks-20150616What Donovan tells the young man is that the opinions of others don’t amount too much in the long run. People will think what they want to think. What truly matters is what your conscience tells you. That’s all you can really control.

This is exactly how we’ve seen Donovan go about his business over the course of the film. The opinions of his bosses and his enemies don’t matter much to him. He simply wants to do what he believes is right for the good of his clients.

Hanks’ character James Donovan is an insurance lawyer given the unenviable task of providing “due process” for a Russian spy. It’s all supposed to be a sham. Donovan isn’t actually supposed to provide genuine legal counsel – he’s just supposed to give the appearance of it so that the spy can “fairly” receive the death penalty he “deserves” as a Cold War criminal.

A thankless task, acted out by a performer who knows all about performing thanklessly.

I’ve written before about how I think we take the special talent of Tom Hanks for granted. And my feelings remain the same considering he was once again snubbed for an Oscar nomination after another brilliant performance in “Bridge Of Spies”.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. And not just because of the great acting. The movie is also a beautiful example of the unwavering love we are to show to others because of our Christian faith.

You see despite the wishes of his coworkers, his family and the United States government James Donovan begins to wonder what would happen if he actually did the right thing for his client and not for his country. He decides to treat his client like a human being.

Because of this He is attacked. His family is put at risk. He faces maddening bureaucratic rulings and red tape.

Yet he sticks to his guns. He does what he knows is right in the face of conflict and when it would be far easier to give up.

Being a Christian typically means going against the norm. It means loving the unlovable. It means not giving up on the people we think we should.

It means finishing the tasks we don’t want to finish. It means giving due process to people who don’t seem like they deserve it.

We should not follow the calling of Christ expecting to become more popular or gain more friends from doing so. In fact the opposite.

Because in the long run it doesn’t matter what people think. No amount of our pleading or protesting or explaining our actions will convince them. Instead our calling is to follow Jesus into the fire.

There are certainly times when we should heed the advice of those around us to not behave foolishly. But we must first weigh that advice in the light of the scripture which tells us:

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

The tasks of a Christian will often go against the grain of popular opinion. The work of a disciple will upset some people. It will offend them. It will confuse them.

Still we must do it. Not for our sake. Not for God’s sake, for it’s not that He needs us to get His work done.

We do it for the sake of our fellow man. We do it, as James Donovan did, because we would want someone to do the same for us.

We do it because Someone did do the same for us, and we have chosen to follow His calling and not the world’s.


4 thoughts on “Following Jesus On The “Bridge Of Spies”

  1. Enjoyed reading this! And agreed. Following God’s plan will often pit us against the flow of what is popular. But we must stand with Christ. I think of Micah 6:8, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

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