I have been watching a show on Hulu for the last few months, and I am enamored by it. I am sure I am suffering from recency bias but I have been making claims to anyone who will listen that “this is the best show ever” and “there could never be a show more amazing than this one.” It’s called 24. Yes, you know the one – with Kiefer Sutherland. I realize I am twenty years late to the party (its first season premiered in November 2001), but this is how it is with much of my life 😊
I could go on and on about why I love 24 – the writing is so compelling, the scenes and action sequences are riveting, the character development is rich, and there are twists and turns that blindside you. But the main reason that it’s the best TV show I have ever watched is…Jack Bauer. That’s who Kiefer Sutherland plays; he’s the main character. Man, I freaking love that guy. He is so committed to the national security of his country. And that commitment drives him not just day by day, but hour by hour and minute by minute – which is how the show is cleverly structured. It is his identity, it is what he was made for, it is who he is through and through. Jack has completely given himself over to the cause of keeping America safe, and that full-on surrender and allegiance to a purpose greater and higher than himself is what really gets me. And it affects me because it strikes a chord that harmonizes with everything that feels right and true.
I want that. It feels like I was meant for that. It feels like I am meant for that, even now.
We all get out of bed in the mornings for at least a few main reasons. Largely among them is responsibility: we need to get our children ready for the day, to get to work on time so we don’t lose our jobs or our businesses, to stay on top of our chores so our household doesn’t fall apart. But wouldn’t it be so much more beautiful and inspiring if the reason we got out of bed was because we knew we were meant to live out the calling we were made for? Then maybe we would actually be living life, instead of life living us. Maybe it wouldn’t feel so random and pointless sometimes. And maybe we wouldn’t need to construct motivations just to keep us going, even as we realize that those ends still won’t fulfill us like we need them to.
Wouldn’t it be so much more beautiful and inspiring if the reason we got out of bed was because we knew we were meant to live out the calling we were made for? Then maybe we would actually be living life, instead of life living us. Maybe it wouldn’t feel so random and pointless sometimes. And maybe we wouldn’t need to construct motivations just to keep us going, even as we realize that those ends still won’t fulfill us like we need them to.
To be sure, it is more than Jack’s commitment to his purpose that moves me. It is also how he executes it. Jack Bauer is all about doing the right thing – the noble thing – in all of his decision-making. We don’t use the word “noble” very much anymore but I wish we could bring it back into our vernacular because it is such an alluring quality in people. Way more than being “lit” or “dope.” When he has to make an impossible decision and chooses the narrow road, the road less traveled, I am like “Aaaaahhhh, Jack, I love you so much!!” Everyone compromises around him. Every single person. But not Jack Bauer. What a beautiful, beautiful man.
Whenever I watch a show or movie, I naturally seek to apply it to my life, to somehow help me to level up as a man or husband or father or friend or leader. And so as I watch 24, I keep thinking to myself: I want this. I want to be Jack Bauer. I mean, I don’t actually want his life. But I want his higher purpose, his drive, and his uncompromising decision-making. And it occurred to me: it’s here for me, it’s here for the taking. It is. I just need to live it out.
My higher purpose is obvious. I am a Christian, a Christ-follower, and even though our reputation has been tarnished because of the way some have treated, excluded, and failed to truly care about others, that is not how I am called to be. And that is not how I am, and that is not how we’re supposed to be. Can fulfilling this higher purpose get me out of bed every day? Can it drive me every day in how treat those around me and reach out in love to those who are not? Absolutely it can. But I have to be committed like Jack Bauer is. Some days, I am not so much. But deep down, I really, really want to be.
Secondly, can my choices always be noble? I realize the dominant paradigm in our society is relativism, where anything goes, and there’s nothing wrong with just listening to our feelings all of the time. But I’ve always believed there is usually a wrong and there is a right, and if you’re not sure and have even a slight lack of peace about it, it’s probably not right and you shouldn’t do it. Jack Bauer cannot be bought. He is not in it for the glory, or for power. And he is prepared to die before he compromises his integrity. Over and over throughout the seasons of the show, I have noticed him saying to others, “I give you my word.” Even bad guys. I love that. His moral compass is so sensitive. I want that for my life. It is something to be proud of. It matters, to Jack and to me and to God.
I realize my life is not scripted like the fictional account of a federal agent sworn to protect the safety of his country. But some of the stories we watch speak to our hearts and connect with us for a transcendent reason. And I know I can do it. I know I can live up to the calling I have been given by my Creator, and I know I can make honorable choices every single hour of the 24 that I have each day with the help of prayer, the Holy Spirit, and counsel of others who care about me.
I know you can too. It’s here for the taking.
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