The film “Monuments Men” opens with Frank Stokes seeking to persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the works of the great European masters are worth salvaging from the destruction and chaos of World War 2.
As part of his rhetoric, he refers to the magnificent sculptures, paintings and artistic displays of the continent as “the greatest historical achievements known to man”. Further, Stokes tells the president, “While we must and we will wind this war, we should also remember the high price that will be paid if the very foundation of modern society is destroyed.”
Stokes argument wins over Roosevelt. He authorizes the formation of a team charged with finding and saving priceless works of art stolen by the Nazis.
Even though Stokes suggests finding young artists and sculptors to make up the unit, Roosevelt notes that all of them are already serving in the battles of the war. Thus, the president calls on Stokes to head up the search for qualified men.
As a result, he contacts aging architects, curators, designers, artists and sculptors to form his group. After he finds them, he holds a meeting.
“You’ve been selected because we need your knowledge and skills,” he tells the men. “We’ve been tasked to find and protect buildings, monuments and art.”
Stokes needed experts who could identify such great pieces as Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges and The Ghent Altarpiece. Further, he desired men with trained eyes capable of differentiating between the genuine and the phony.
Throughout the film, the necessity of saving these works is questioned. Roosevelt proffers the idea that their loss is just the price of fighting a war. Commanders refuse to risk their men to help the unit save art. President Truman asks at the end of the war if the loss of two of his men was worth the effort to rescue the five million works his group DID save.
The questioning is legitimate. It’s important to ask what is worth giving your life to and for.
Author and life coach Brendon Burchard says that not every mountain is worth climbing. We need to walk around some.
While Frank Stokes argument for saving great works of art at the cost of lost lives can be questioned, he was able to convince the person who mattered most that they were. He persuaded the president of the United States that they were monuments to civilization which were worth fighting for.
Most of us don’t take on great tasks of the kind that Frank Stokes tackled. He felt a personal responsibility for giving himself to the work because he thought these monuments were important.
Each of us has to determine for ourselves what we deem worth giving our lives to or fighting for. Some, for example, believe that TEARING DOWN monuments is what is important.
Stuart Briscoe writes that there are some charismatic men who start movements to accomplish a task they believe is of great significance or value. Briscoe notes that these movements die out when their founders pass on, and their work become monuments to the glory which once was. Unlike artistic memorials, these monuments are devoid of their original power.
Briscoe describes one founder and his movement which do live on.
There is no denying that Christianity has in some instances degenerated into a monument, and its places of worship into museums. But it is equally true that, where ordinary men and women in the power of the Spirit have proclaimed the Good News of Christ’s saving grace, the church has continued to grow and thrive. When this happens, there is no man-movement-monument syndrome. The Man, Christ Jesus, is still at work through the Holy Spirit, doing what only he can do–and doing it well!
I personally believe that the work of Jesus is worth giving my life to and worth fighting for. In order to be a part of His work, I need to know Him. Like the Monuments Men, I ought to be an expert in Jesus if I want to be one of his people.
This means I should also be around folks that can also recognize Jesus. Not all of His alleged followers can.
Vernon McGee says that when Judas took a mob to the Garden of Gethsemane in order to arrest Jesus, he could not identify the man he spent three years with as one of his disciples. McGee believes this was because Jesus was displaying his divine glory at this time.
Judas did not have the acumen to distinguish characteristics of his Master which at that point could only be spiritually discerned. He was a fraudulent expert.
Judas was a phony Jesus Man. He could not identify the Real McCoy.
This year I want to become a Jesus Man, i.e. an expert in Jesus. I want to be able to identify the genuine article for myself and others.
This won’t be easy. The Apostle Paul wrote that gaining true spiritual knowledge in this life is similar to looking in a dim mirror. We can only make out some aspects of the real image.
Further, as in Jesus’s day there are religious and political leaders who attempt to either reject Him or coopt Him for their own purposes. Behind them lurks the enemy of Christ, Satan the Devil.
He isn’t going to be happy about my desire to get involved in the deserving work of searching for and elevating Jesus in my own life and in the lives of others. Just as the Monuments Men had to fight with Nazis and Russians to save great masterpieces, I will have to battle the minions of the Evil One.
But to me searching for and making known the true Jesus is worth the effort. The job is worth giving my life to and worth fighting for.
Like Frank Stokes, I need to be around some other men who are qualified and willing to get into the war. Finding these Jesus Men will also be my goal.
Finding Jesus is a dangerous job. I’ll need the other Jesus Men to help me, perhaps even save me, in order to get it done.
Coming to their aid should also be part of my expectation as a Jesus Man.
Being one of the Jesus Men is a noble goal.