People are fascinating. When we stop and consider who they are and what they’ve done there is much to discover.
Their lives can help us self-reflect and in turn, grow in trusting of God. The people in history have much to teach us, both those who followed Jesus and those who did not. Even the people portrayed in modern movies can, with the right perspective, give us opportunity to evaluate our lives and to grow.
I was challenged by a recent popular film, or rather, the individual the film focused on.
Set against the backdrop of WWII, The Imitation Game is the behind-the-scenes biopic of Alan Turing and a long untold yet important true story of Turing’s contribution to the Allied forces. It’s a character-driven movie, and you will likely find yourself mesmerized by the incredibly gifted and interesting young man that is Alan Turing. Despite being a social outcast in more ways than one, having a hard life and facing much opposition, Turing was a man who literally changed the course of history. And while not a single shot is fired in the film, you’ll find yourself held in heavy, high intensity suspense throughout.
Turing, played beautifully by Benedict Cumberbatch, is a socially awkward yet brilliant mathematician employed to work on breaking the Nazi encryption code, nicknamed “Enigma”. And as great as the movie is in its thrilling plot and WWII atmosphere, the story is really more about Turing than anything else.
It is told mostly through flashbacks, either to Turing’s code breaking endeavours with his team (and the awkward, often hilarious social interactions between them) or to Turing’s childhood, where a number of key, character-shaping events take place.
As you watch Turing’s story unfold, you can’t help but feel for him. It really is a tragic story. I won’t give too much away, but in spite of Turing’s brilliance and usefulness to his country, his life is often less than pleasant. And yet he is honoured in this movie, and you can’t help but walk away from the film with a great appreciation for the man deemed the Father of Modern Computer Science, and, perhaps one of WWII’s greatest (though only recently truly recognized) heroes.
As Christians, we should neither aspire to fame or popularity, nor think of ourselves as offering something exceedingly important and useful to God, even if we are doing His work (1 Cor 3:5-9). We are called to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2) to God, and when we hear of a story like Turing’s, we ought to ask ourselves:
What would God have me do that would affect history for His glory?
What will I give my life to?
The single most important event in all of history was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was there that the veil was torn and access to God was opened. Those who were far away were brought near and reconciled to God (Eph. 2:11-22). Jesus laid down His life for others, and He did change the course of history forever.
Not all of us will be missionaries to the dark unreached places of the world, but surely we are all called to do big things for God and be part of fulfilling Jesus’ command to “make disciples” (Matt. 28:18-20).
What better way to change history than to help the people who will make history begin a relationship with Jesus Christ?
The world’s wisdom may not approve or think much of what we do, and few of us might make as obvious or immediate an impact as Alan Turing. But when we live in light of the gospel and eternity, investing into eternal things, we are looking to the unseen and transient things, as we should (2 Cor. 4:18)!
The apostle Paul had an epic ambition for his own life: “… thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.’” Romans 15:18-21
Since the only things we can take into eternity with us are people and our memories, we should take every opportunity to make every moment count to the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
I don’t have any “Pro-Tips” for you, and it’s more about your heart attitude and living in a Spirit-filled way than mastering methods or strategies. As you love and follow God, you will look for every chance to point people to Jesus and you will do whatever you do to the glory of God. And as you rely on God, He will make powerful and effective your efforts, which are never in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).
So as you remember Alan Turing and his hard but incredibly significant life, think for yourself about what you are willing to lay your life down for. I pray that it involves pointing others to Jesus.