Twelve O’clock High is a 1949 film, starring Gregory Peck, about the United States Army Air Force crews who flew daylight bombing missions against Germany and occupied France during World War II. A problem had arisen with the 918th Bomb Group…the men were battered and morale was low because of the large amount of casualties that they were experiencing. They were beginning to question whether or not they should be fighting in the war at all. Many were threatening to quit. The commanding general realizes that the commanding officer is at fault and he relieves him of his duty.
The man chosen to replace the officer is General Frank Savage, played by Peck. Savage finds his new command in disarray and begins to address the discipline problems. He deals with everyone so harshly that the men begin to detest him. At one point, he closes down the officers club bar as punishment. At the breaking point, Savage calls the men into a meeting to give a, now famous, speech.
Paul said in Acts 20:24, But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. So perhaps there is a connection between Gregory Peck’s “you’re already dead” speech and our approach to the Christian life. Perhaps we do get too focused on ourselves, our plans, the worries of this world.
Wouldn’t it be freeing to live as though we were already dead? Paul’s instructions are very similar…you will be persecuted…understand it, embrace it and then live in bold, love tempered, self controlled power for the glory of God! When you do you won’t be turned in , focused on yourself, but you’ll have a heart that longs for the up building of others! The sovereignty of God (his providence, promise and will), the fact that he abundantly meets all our needs in Christ Jesus, should encourage us to fan our gifts into blaze for the glory of God! Paul also says, in Romans 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. Is that your life slogan?
There is one breakdown in the comparison between 12 o’clock High and the Christian life…General Savage employs the men to “do your duty!…do your job.” That is NOT the motivation that we see from the lips of Jesus. We see—joy! Take joy in me! Be satisfied in Me! Delight in Me! Seek first my kingdom…and all these things will be added unto you.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:39 “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.”
May God give us the grace and joy to lose our lives for Christ’s sake!!