Here’s an illustration from the new movie Intolerable Cruelty, courtesy of MovieMinistry.com:
The Big Idea:
Love is good.
Miles Massey has finally succumbed to the enemy – a woman. Hastily, and with great passion, he has decided to wed Marylin Rexroad. He finds himself standing before the organization of which he is president, National Organization of Matrimonial Attorneys Nationwide (NOMAN – slogan “let NOMAN put asunder”). But he faces them a changed man.
Massey tries to begin with his prepared remarks. He declares, “In the world of matrimonial law there are a number of tactics . . . “
But he finds he cannot continue, and he tears up his speech. He looks at all his colleagues and speaks from his heart: “This morning, I stand before you a very different Miles Massey than the one that addressed you last year on “The Disposition of Marital Assets Following Murder/Suicide.” I wish to talk to you today not about technical matters of law. I wish to talk to you about something more important.”
Massey says he wants to discuss the heart – he wants to talk about love to this group of divorce attorneys. He says, “It’s a word we matrimonial lawyers avoid. Funny. We’re frightened of this emotion which is, in a sense, the seed of our livelihood. Well, today, Miles Massey is here to tell you that love need cause us no fear. Love need cause us no shame. Love is . . . good. Love is good.”
Massey knows that his audience is skeptical, but he calls cynicism, “that cloak that advertises our indifference and hides all human feeling. I’m here to tell you that that cynicism which we think protects us, in fact destroys, destroys love, destroys our clients, and ultimately destroys ourselves. Colleagues, when our clients come to us confused and angry and hurting because their flame of love is guttering and threatens to die, do we seek to extinguish that flame so that we can sift through the smoldering wreckage for our paltry reward? Or do we fan this precious flame, this most precious flame back into loving, roaring life. Do we counsel fear or trust? Do we seek to destroy or build? Do we meet our clients’ problems with cynicism or love? The choice is, of course, each of ours. For my part, I made the leap of love, and there’s no going back.”
He tells them that he intends to resign from the organization to pursue pro bono work, then he takes his leave as his colleagues slowly stand and cheer.
While there is a certain playfulness inherent in this speech, as it stands it is a wonderful testimony to the transformational power of love. C.S. Lewis argued in The Abolition of Man that the conditioners of our culture sought to breed cynics – that our young were enslaved to “cold vulgarity.” The job of the teacher was to help students to recognize that the universe is such a place where truth, beauty, and love really exist. And that we could recognize and respond to these virtues.
The Scriptures tell us that of the virtues, the greatest is Love. We are to love others and God, and that in doing so we obey the Law and the Prophets. Of all human loves, marital love is worthy of extra effort, and safeguard, because it stands as the metaphor for God’s relationship to the Church. We should never blithely whisk love aside for any other goal. Love is good. (For more sermon illustrations and ideas visit www.MovieMinistry.com.)
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