One of our family’s favorite movies is “Dudley Do-Right” based on a cartoon with a Canadian Mountie as the main character. The Canadian Mountie is a legendary figure with “Maintien le Droit,” or “uphold the right” as his motto. The responsibilities of the Mountie called for bravery, heroism, and strength. They were fearless and they were the law, worthy of authority and respect.
But Dudley isn’t any of these honorable Mountie qualities. He is spineless, clumsy, and intimidated. As the movie progresses, we see Dudley surrounded by a whole gang of bad guys. Robbing the local bank and taking over the town, these surly characters in black jackets and face masks are moving fast.
Dudley finds himself out-witted. He loses his job and stumbles across a bum up in the mountains who takes Dudley under his wing and teaches him how to be a hero. The bum’s last words to his floundering student are, “get out there and do something dangerous!” Bruised and confused, Dudley stumbles away in search of adventure.
Get out there and do something dangerous. This sounds an awfully lot like the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10—22. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the enemy’s schemes . . .put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Paul is cheering on a new church intent on advancing the gospel in the pagan Roman Empire. Paul himself sits in prison bound in chains as he writes. He knows what is at stake for the church if they do not heed these words. The Christian faith will die out. Justice and righteousness according to God’s Law would no longer be maintained. Yet, Paul knows what is at stake for the new church if they do heed his words. Persecution. Imprisonment for daring to worship anyone but the Caesar. Maybe even death. It was a tough choice. One that needed to be made in spite of the danger and hardship it would invite.
In his book, The Good and Beautiful Life, James Bryan Smith says, “Jesus observes that those who pursue righteousness are going against the grain of society, and that will result in persecution. Following Jesus is dangerous if we lead the kind of life he calls us to. When we choose to fight for justice and peace or not to lie or judge others, we will face backlash. The promise in the last beatitude is the same as in the first: ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ When we align ourselves with Jesus and observe his ways, we are in the kingdom” (p. 61-62).
The kingdom is the territory where God reigns. It’s the place where we are called to live dangerously. Go on a mission. Dare to be a serious disciple of Christ. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Live by values. Pray.
But don’t we often feel like Dudley Do-Right, intimidated in the face of evil or hardship and bumbling along in confusion hoping that something we did today counted? It is in times like this when Jesus calls us to an adventure. When we are taking the risks and counting the cost we are in the safest place of all. His plan for our lives lived out under his protection is the strength we need to continue to take a stand for the kingdom. With the armor firmly in place that Ephesians mentions, we can not only uphold the right, but go on to influence people to change like the early Christians did. The message of the gospel eventually wins.