The Quick and the Dead
Main Point: We must be willing to stand up for our beliefs and principles even if we have to pay a price for them.
The Movie Clip: Adios Reverend
The Quick and the Dead is not only a phrase associated with Christianity (the “quick” meaning “alive” and “dead” meaning, well, “dead”), it was also a star-studded western film from the mid-90s. The film centers on a strange woman known as The Lady (Sharon Stone), who rides into the gun slinging town of Redemption to exact revenge on a man named Herod (Gene Hackman) who is a ruthless crime lord. Along her journey, she meets Cort (Russell Crowe), a former henchman of Herod’s who has become a preacher, and The Kid (Leonardo DiCaprio), the illegitimate son of Herod.
There are plenty of gun fights and violence and language in the film to deserve its R rating. In fact, in the clip being used for this discussion starter, there is one reference of the s word (though it’s muted in the WingClips version below).
Introducing the Clip:
I want to show you a clip from a western movie that was made back in the mid-90s. It stars Gene Hackman as the bad guy named Herod, and Russell Crowe as the crook-turned-preacher named Cort. Herod is putting together a gun fight competition in the violent town of Redemption and wants Cort to participate in it, but Cort refuses. When he stands up to Herod, the crime lord strings him up with a rope and threatens his life. Cort will have to decide if he is going to stick with his principles or cave to the threat. Let’s take a look at what he chooses and how it works out for him.
The entire clip for this scene is available at the following link:
When push came to shove, Cort was willing to pay the price for his beliefs. He no longer wanted to be associated with violent outlaws so he stepped away from that life and committed his life to serving God. That didn’t sit right with Herod, and so he took extreme action to try and get Cort to change his mind. But Cort was willing to die for what he believed. You and I must also be willing to stand up for our beliefs and principles even if we have to pay a price for them. Anytime we take a stand, we are going to be challenged. What will you do when you come face to face with someone or something that wants you to back down from your belief in God?
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 whether or not we like western/cowboy movies.
- ASK A FEW: What was the reason Cort gave for not joining the gunfight that Herod was putting together? In your opinion, was that a good stand to take?
- ASK SOMEONE: What was Herod’s response to Cort’s refusal?
- ASK A FEW: What would you have done in that situation? Would you have stuck to your beliefs, or not?
- ASK A FEW: Based on the clip, it seemed to work out for Cort. He didn’t end up dying for his principles. Is that the way it always works? Are we always saved from paying a price when it comes to standing up for our beliefs? Explain. (Leaders – This is a key question. No, we are not always saved at the last second when we choose to stand up for our beliefs. Sometimes we are, but sometimes, we aren’t. We must be prepared to pay the price when we have to.)
- ASK A FEW: What are some of the principles you have in life? In other words, what are you willing to pay the price for?
- ASK A FEW: How far would you be willing to go in your stand for God?
Read the following passage:
Daniel 3:1-30 (NIV)
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. 4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” 7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 8 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon– Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego– who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” 13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” 19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
In the movie clip we watched, Cort had to decide if his principles were really worth dying for. In that moment, he decided they were, and he was prepared to lose his life for them. Fortunately, he was spared by the quick actions of The Lady, even though Herod was trying to take his life.
Then we read a passage from real life about three men who took a stand for what they believed in…and were forced to pay a high price for it: their lives. Ironically enough, God supernaturally spared them from death, and in the end, we even see that the pagan king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! Pretty cool, huh?
But it doesn’t always work out that way. In fact, even though BOTH of the stories we looked at – the movie and the Bible story – had a happy ending so to speak, that’s rarely the way it works out in real life. In fact, it’s even rare that it works out that way in the Bible.
For instance, a man named John the Baptist stood up for what he believed and it cost him his head. Stephen took a stand for what he believed, and he was stoned to death by an angry crowd. James, a disciple of Jesus, took a stand on his beliefs, and it cost him his head, too. Over and over again, what we see in Scripture and in life is that those who take a stand for their principles often have to pay a price for them.
So, what about you? Are you willing to pay a price for what you believe?
There have been millions upon millions who have gone before you in this instance. They have taken their stand for God and refused to back down to the demands of others. Sure, most of them paid a price for it, but the rewards for honoring God no matter what, are always worth it.
Without a doubt, you will get a chance to back down from your beliefs in the next few weeks. I hope that when that happens, you will remember that God is worth every sacrifice we make for Him. But your other stances are just as important, regardless if they are about dating, about online integrity, about academic performance, or something else.
Whatever you do, don’t get in the habit of backing down from your principles. They are always worth living for…even if you have to live with the consequences of keeping them!
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.