If Indiana Jones preached a sermon

Jim and I took a little time off last Thursday morning to go see the new Indiana Jones movie. We both wanted to write about it, so we just called that morning “research” and enjoyed the time together.

We had only been married about a year when the first Indiana Jones movie came out. We thought it was amazing! We rushed to see the second movie but didn’t like it much. I think that second movie is actually responsible for the creation of the PG13 rating. The third Indiana Jones movie promised to be better—which it was—and actually was my favorite in the series. Needless to say, we were pretty excited to go to this last movie, decades later.

Jim wrote his article about the use of AI to “de-age” Harrison Ford’s face. My blog post has a different theme. The new movie was really well done and an interesting perspective on what matters most at the end of our lives. It isn’t a Christian movie by any means, but it is interesting how often the world’s messages contain biblical principles.

So, what if Indiana Jones were to preach a sermon at the end of his life? What points would he most want to make, as seen in the movie?

First point: Preserve and cherish important relationships.

We enjoyed seeing so many of the characters from previous movies written into the script of this last film. Indiana Jones’ friends remained true to who they were. He could count on those relationships decades later. I thought of the proverb that says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). Most if not all of Indiana Jones’ friends were apparently “born for adversity.” 

I’ve been privileged to know a lot of people throughout my life. I hope some of those relationships will be my great joy in the years ahead. Indiana Jones would tell us to invest in those people and honor them for their gift of friendship

Who do you think about when you read those words?

Second point: Don’t give up on a relationship that has failed.

I won’t give away the movie, but suffice it to say that Indiana Jones comes to realize that no amount of work, adventure, or important treasure is more important than a broken relationship. 

Modern thinking is that we shouldn’t spend time with people who don’t “add” to our sense of well-being or who don’t bring “positive energy” into our lives. That is a worldly point of view. 

Do you have a relationship that needs to be worked on or even restored? Is there someone you just don’t want to care about anymore? Jesus told Peter he needed to forgive a person more than seven times, the customary number in Jewish law: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). Jesus wasn’t teaching a literal number but a high standard of spiritual truth. We don’t give up on our brothers and sisters in Christ. We keep working to restore the relationship.

Another proverb reminds us why God wants us to keep working on our relationships, even the difficult ones: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). That proverb is powerful truth for all those relationships that can “hurt” at times. God allows them for a reason. The truth of that proverb will be understood best in heaven when obedience is rewarded. Some of our eternal rewards will be the result of following the teaching of Christ even when it was tough to do so. 

How would that difficult relationship change if we stopped to consider that God may have allowed it into our lives for the sake of our eternal inheritance as well as our earthly witness?

Third point: Life isn’t supposed to be effortless; it is supposed to be lived with an effort to honor God.

In this last movie, Indiana Jones has gone from being the professor the girls swooned over to an aged professor whose class is boring to most of his students. The focus of his life was chasing archeological treasures, and he had acquired many artifacts. In this final movie, his greatest treasures are something very different.

My husband delivered the message last Saturday at the funeral of a very important man who understood how to use his life for the things God thought important. He stood for biblical principles even when taking that stand would cost him a position of high status. He stood for biblical integrity even when that stand was unpopular.

During the service 2 Corinthians 4:7–9 was read and preached because these verses represented this man’s earthly journey. Those verses say, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

If Indiana Jones could preach, he would confess his life had been a race to acquire antiquities rather than focusing his efforts on maintaining things that matter most. It took him a lifetime to learn what Paul taught the Corinthians. Our earthly lives, and all we achieve, are stored here in jars of clay.

Indiana Jones lived with some good values but lacked the most important measure of success. The point of our lives is to point others to God, “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

Most sermons end with a good illustration.

I’ll close with these words. My husband often says, “Great men plant trees they will never sit under.” The man we celebrated last Saturday at his memorial service planted forests of trees. He touched thousands of lives and pointed them toward the important goal of serving God for his sake rather than our own. His “jar of clay” finally broke, releasing his soul to heaven, where he is now enjoying the people he knew and loved on earth. His treasure is those eternal rewards he stored safely in heaven. 

A lot of people came to honor this man, but we also came to honor his God.

I thought the new Indiana Jones movie was a good one. As the book of Job teaches, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days” (Job 12:12). The acclaimed writers and producers of this famous movie franchise have aged, and this last movie revealed some wisdom learned. I wanted to point their wisdom from this movie script to the Source of wisdom. We have a great God and his truth is eternal.

What sermon will each of our lives preach? God could use a few more “Indiana Jones” sermons delivered by people brave enough to speak biblical truth in spite of the certain consequences that will follow. Preaching isn’t supposed to be effortless; strong preaching will always draw some persecution, affliction, and occasional despair.

But at the end of our lives, if our message pointed people to God, it was worth all the effort.