The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart. -- Psalm 15:2
In the mid-eighties, I went to see a movie called Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I loved it! Matthew Broderick played Ferris Bueller, a charming, highly intelligent, off-the-charts popular high school senior who lives in an affluent neighborhood in suburban Chicago. Ferris is also a highly manipulative kid who is about to graduate. He sees that it is one of those beautiful mid-May Illinois days infecting everybody with spring fever and he decides to skip school. He recruits two of his friends to join him for a day of adventure in downtown Chicago. The movie revolves around all the things they do that day and all the clever strategies Ferris employs to both get his way and to get away with it.
A few days ago, I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off again. I would still recommend it – it’s still a charming and distracting movie. But thirty years is a long time and today, I see Ferris’s character in a very different light. When you set aside the charm of his character, you have a disobedient rebel who cheerfully flouts the rules. The writers and producers of the movie depict authority figures as either legalistic dupes, (the principal at the high school), incredibly boring (Ben Stein’s character is stellar!) or as loving and accomplished, but utterly clueless when it came to their kids (Ferris’s parents). I found myself wondering what might have become of Ferris Bueller had he been a real person. He would be about fifty years old today and speculation could take us in a couple of different directions – he could have become a gifted leader in industry, the military
or politics. The kind of leader whose charisma and intelligence enables him to inspire folks to greatness. Or he could be a tax cheat facing prison time over fraud charges. He could be a loving husband and an example to his children, (He clearly adored and cherished his high school girl friend in the movie), or he could be on marriage number three or four, due to his serial philandering, a total stranger to his children. Who knows.
Here’s what I do know: as followers of Jesus, we should be aware of the fact that there is a little of Ferris Bueller in all of us. We all want to have our own way and, if left to our own devices, we, like Ferris, would be willing to manipulate people or circumstances to get what we want. I know that I would. The outdated, but still all-too relevant term is sin. As followers of Jesus, we know that we live in a fallen world and we are all sinners. We should know that when we make light of our sin, or try to minimize it, we set ourselves up for some really big problems. Most of us give at least lip-service to this spiritual reality. But too many of us tend to see God in the same light as Ferris sees his parents; loving and accomplished, somebody he’s proud of, but also as utterly clueless when it comes to his schemes. I assure you; God is anything but clueless and it is we who are clueless when we act as if God doesn’t see, or doesn’t care about our sins. He sees. And trust me, He
cares. To carry this metaphor a bit further, if there is a sequel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, it might be Ferris Bueller’s Day of Reckoning. But as intimidating as the sequel sounds, it still can have a happy ending. When God’s day of reckoning comes to us, it’s not about God punishing us, it’s not about God “putting the hammer down” because we’ve stepped out of line. It’s simply that the moral books must balance. As a result, we are forced to live out the consequences of our sin every time. God hates sin! There is no question about it. But what might not be as clear is the “why” of it. God hates sin not nearly so much because it’s an affront to Him and His character. (even though it most definitely is) It’s more that God loves us so much that he hates to see what sin can do to us. If there is a metaphorical sequel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I think a huge theme of it would be this: God’s people try to manipulate circumstances to their own advantage, their deeds catch up with them, God gives them a way out. That way out is Jesus. That truth is God’s grace. It works every time.