“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Prov. 16:3)
From The Christian Church in the Last Days
No Christians today would in hindsight tell Noah to stop building his ark, or advise Abraham to stay in Haran, or advise Moses to refuse God’s difficult calling to go to Egypt and deliver the Israelites. No Christians would tell David to forget about the absurd notion of attempting to kill Goliath using only a sling and a stone, or tell Peter to continue mending his nets rather than accept the invitation of Jesus to follow Him, or tell Paul he had better give up his missionary quest and return to the safety of being a Pharisee in Jerusalem after being nearly stoned to death in Lystra.
Buried deep within our conscience, we know that doing the right thing is more important than doing what we might otherwise want to do, when the circumstances of life require us to make a choice. This must have the clear bell-ring note of truth that resonates in our innermost being, otherwise the movie Roman Holiday would not have captured our imagination and maintained its longstanding popularity to reach the elevated status of being considered a “classic.” Within the highly competitive marketplace of ideas filtered through the cultural medium of modern movie-making, the theme of this beautiful story has stood the test of time for a good reason.
There is an important lesson we can take away from this classic movie. Even the supportive and affirming aspects of common romantic love, which God created, can change people for the better. Before her one-day love affair in Rome with Joe Bradley…the Gregory Peck character in the movie, the Princess Anne is going through the perfunctory motions of acting like a princess, of doing what everyone around her tells her to do, because that is what is expected of her. But after she discovers, even for a single day, that a handsome and charming man actually loves her for who she is rather than what she is, this supporting validation of her as a person sets her free to become her own person.
Not only does the love, value, and respect coming from the Gregory Peck character in the movie enable Anne to grow instantly into a mature woman capable of independent decision-making, but also enables Anne to make the difficult but elevated moral decision to continue in the responsible role as her country’s princess. After her Roman Holiday, the Princess Anne will enter into her duties in the service of her family and her country out of her own volition and choosing, albeit at the high cost of a lost romance and a broken heart. This one-day, eye-opening experience will make her a better person and a more committed public servant for all of the right reasons. This one-day transformation came about through the respect and support that comes with being genuinely loved.
Likewise, the one-day romp through the city of Rome with the beautiful princess in the disguise of a commoner, creates in Joe Bradley a growing love and affection for this woman as the day progresses, that in the end produces the elevated nobility of character that sacrifices for her welfare, the sensational front-page reporter’s story of a lifetime. While standing in the front row of the gallery of reporters at the next day’s press conference, Gregory Peck assures Audrey Hepburn that the scandalous nature of their day out in the town in Rome will forever remain a secret between the two of them. Joe Bradley tells the Princess Anne that her “faith in the relations between people will not be unjustified.” And thus these two people discover together the elevated, self-sacrificing quality of character that their love for each other has created seemingly out of nowhere.
Anne starts out her Roman Holiday wanting only the excitement of pursuing one day of total freedom to do just whatever she pleases, and Joe Bradley starts out pursuing the personally detached, coldly calculated news reporter’s front page feature article. Both unknowingly start out the day in the natural realm of worldly conventional self-centered plans and schemes, but through the day’s totally unique shared experiences they end up at the highest character realm of the natural moral law of self-sacrificing love. So it is with a God-composed journey of faith following Jesus Christ. Spending time with Jesus will change us forever.
Romantic love that contains genuine self-sacrifice motivates Hepburn and Peck, in the movie, to make the right decision and to do the right thing. But it is the actual activities of the day spent together that creates the bond of love between them to make this possible. This is where the “rubber meets the road” in the story. Without their “Roman Holiday” there is no context for their shared experiences, growing love for each other, and subsequent elevated character growth. Without their Roman Holiday experience, they both would remain just the same as they were the previous day, hopelessly stuck within their horizontally conventional realities.
Only God can craft the events and circumstances in our lives to create the singularly unique context for developing love for God and right actions consistent with the natural moral law.
Whenever Jesus Christ calls a person into a particular task, mission, or service as part of their journey of faith, the confidence that God places in us is a divine aspect of love that will inspire a response to rise to the occasion. This supportive validation of us as a person, coming from no less than Almighty God Himself, will raise the bar to a new elevated level of character within us. The value that God places upon us, and the trust He invests in our development, when divine love is in operation, will elevate people into the high character level of the natural moral law contained within a journey of faith, to match the beautiful stories of faith in the Bible. The acceptance, confidence, and validation that are a part of the love of God that is shown in God’s willingness to interact with us on a personal level, will elevate us to become better people, again seemingly out of nowhere (Mark 4:26-28).