When The Fast and the Furious came out in 2001, I was hanging out with a group of people really into cars. We went to see it premier in the theaters, taking up several rows. We rode all over the city and suburbs of Philadelphia just enjoying the ride. We modified and de-badged. We made group purchases for authentic racing parts, and we hung out like one big extended family. The Fast and the Furious became our cinematic mantra. It struck me as ironic that thirteen years later, I find myself sitting at home watching the sixth installment of the Fast and Furious franchise only to be astonished at some legitimate theological insight coming from the mouth of Dom Toretto:
He may be wearing a cross, but he’s hardly Martin Luther or John Wesley. So imagine my shock to hear him offer up this little gem: “You don’t turn your back on family, even when they do.” At first it doesn’t sound that deep, but sit with it, and apply it to the state of living with other believers within the church. By our baptism, we are adopted into the family of God, and every other believer becomes a brother or sister in Christ. We receive this theological family that is made up of real people who sin just like us, but are striving to grow beyond that and live out the redemption we have been offered. That is easier said than done. Anyone who stays in the church for a little while soon discovers disagreements, occasions of strife, and even all out drama. Do we just walk out on them? We shouldn’t. If God the Father and God the Son refused to abandon us, then we are compelled by that truth to love through the trials and tribulations of communal life in the Body of Christ. I have been in the Church all of my life, and I have watched countless people up and leave, abandoning this family they once embraced and even took a public vow to join. It makes me sad, and I have this feeling of abandonment. This is not who we should be. We should be those who cling to the cross together, long after all the others have fled in fear of conflict and contention. I would love nothing more than for every single one of them to come back and take their place once more in the midst of the Church.
Can they? Certainly, because our theology of grace will always trump hurt feelings and discord. Will they? Almighty God knows I hope so. I want us all together, despite our flaws, our differences, our struggles, and our conflicts. We all belong here. We all have been forged into a family based upon faith with overrides all other connections, because this one is based in Christ. Dom was on to something. No matter who turns their back, who walks away first, we should always be willing to come together again over Jesus. Our feelings come upon us in those moments fast and furious, but our bond is bigger than any insult, deeper than any hurt. Our faith is how God enables us to discover the richness of God’s forgiving love, and we have a responsibility to offer that to one another. Reconciliation begins with grace, and grace should always begin with family.