Main Point: We must live for Christ, because what we do in life echoes in eternity.
The Movie Clip:
To date, Gladiator has been one of Russell Crowe’s biggest and most impressive performances of his storied career. In this film directed by Ridley Scott, Crowe plays a Roman general by the name of Maximus Meridius who has been betrayed by his emperor’s evil son. Maximus’ family is murdered by the new emperor and the famed general is sold into slavery.
Of course, Maximus doesn’t slip into anonymity as a slave. His fighting skills soon put him at the center of gladiatorial fights in the center of the Coliseum in the center of Rome. It’s there that Maximus will get his revenge, or die trying.
The movie is rated R, mostly for the various scenes of graphic violence.
Introducing the Clip:
I want to show you a short clip from a classic film, Gladiator. It comes from the very beginning of the movie before our hero Maximus, played by Russell Crowe, is betrayed by the emperor’s cruel son. In this clip, you’re going to hear a speech that General Maximus gives to his troops before leading them into battle against a fierce enemy. It’s a tense moment, so he lightens the mood with a simple joke and then talks about eternity. Take a listen to what he says because it’s true.
The clip is available on WingClips: http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/gladiator/echoes-in-eternity
The clip can also be found on the actual DVD starting at 0 HOURS 5 MINUTES AND 08 SECONDS. It runs for just over two minutes and stops at 0 HOURS 7 MINUTES AND 13 SECONDS.
The scene is a simple one. General Maximus of the Roman Empire speaks with his closest advisors on the brink of a great battle with a Germanic tribe in Europe. He also speaks with his cavalry and tells them that what they do in life “echoes in eternity.”
This entire small group discussion is built on that one important line.
What we do in life echoes in eternity. It’s a powerful line, not just because a movie hero uttered it, but because it’s true. What we do here in this life greatly impacts how we spend our next. Conversely, what we don’t do in this life also echoes in eternity. Bottom line: a lot is riding on how you live your lives. You need to make your life count as best you can. I know of no better way to make your life count than by living it for Jesus. Friends, we must live for Christ, because what we do in life echoes in eternity.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and our favorite action movie.
- ASK A FEW: In this clip, Maximus talked about Elysium, the concept of the afterlife in ancient Rome. It was described as a beautiful and restful field at the edge of Earth. How do you visualize eternity? What do you believe about it?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think Maximus meant when he said, “What we do in life echoes in eternity”?
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever done something or said something that had long-lasting effects (good or bad)? If so, what?
- ASK A FEW: Lots of religions, including Christianity, believe that how we live our lives impacts our eternities. What do you think?
- ASK A FEW: Is it a good thing to base a person’s eternity on how they live their lives on Earth? Why or why not?
Read the following passage:
Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV)
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Each time I watch this movie, I am struck by how confident Maximus was in this scene. He simply says, “Hey guys, do your best out there, because how you live in this life makes an impact on how you live in the next.” He believed his actions on Earth affected his afterlife.
Interestingly enough, the Bible also teaches that our lives on Earth impact our eternities. But let me clear up a couple of huuuuuuuuuuge distinctions between Maximus’ beliefs and the Bible’s teachings.
First, Maximus thought that the eternal reward was called Elysium, and though he didn’t say it, we know that Romans thought the eternal punishment was called Hades, or Pluto. As Christians, we believe that the eternal reward is Heaven and the eternal punishment is Hell. Big difference, there. But that’s not all.
Second, Maximus basically thought that “good guys” go to Elysium (Rome’s version of “heaven”), while “bad guys” went to Pluto (their version of “hell”). In other words, a person’s deeds/works saved them or destroyed them. A lot of people who call themselves Christians believe this, as well, but Christians who truly understand God’s Word don’t believe that deeds/works can save them. Astute Christians rightfully believe that only Jesus can save them because He is the only One who can save them from their sin.
Here is the big idea I want to leave with you. We are saved for Heaven by our trust in Jesus Christ and nothing else. He died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins. If you put all of your hope and trust in Him, then you will be saved for Heaven and from Hell. That truth is clear all across the New Testament.
But, that doesn’t mean we can live anyway we want to, now. Just because we are saved doesn’t mean we can slack off, live selfishly, or turn our back on God. We must live for Jesus right now, because how we live for Him on Earth “echoes in eternity.”
Here’s how it’s supposed to work. If you have put your hope and trust in Jesus to save you, then you will automatically want to live for Him. You will want to share with others. You will want to tell others about His love. You will want to give sacrificially of yourself because you know that He has given of Himself. These are just a few examples. Basically, because Jesus has saved you, you should want to live your life for Him.
I hope that you choose to live a radical life for Jesus. I hope that you will decide to passionately live for Jesus, loving on others, forgiving them, telling them about His love for them, and helping them in any way they may need it. If you do, Jesus says you will be blessed for it. If you do not, Jesus says you will not be rewarded.
Make sure to live for Jesus every way you can. It impacts your eternity!
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.