The Gospel According to Jules and Ben

Every movie lover has two lists, although some of us only keep them in our minds:

1. The Best Movies We've Seen

2. Our Most Favorite Movies

While some films may fall into both categories (I'm looking at you, Shawshank Redemption), most likely these lists will contain different titles. The "best movies" usually include those films that leave us with a strong emotion and deeper meaning of life, but we don't necessarily want to watch them on a regular basis. Think Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Hotel Rwanda. The "favorite movies" will likely include those whose dialogue we know by heart and will watch any time we find it on TV.

The Intern is on my short list of favorite movies.

In preparation for my doctoral seminar this summer, I had to read over 800 pages on the topics of aging and intergenerational relationships. I was tempted to ask the professors if watching The Intern might count towards the page quota. I ended up not asking to substitute an Anne Hathaway film for a Harvard Business School Study,  although I did end up quoting A Prairie Home Companion in the final paper!

Photo from Rotten Tomatoes. 

Photo from Rotten Tomatoes

The Intern is indeed about intergenerational friendships. Anne Hathaway plays Jules, the energetic and always-running-late founder of a startup called About the Fit. Ben, played by Robert De Niro, is a retired, widowed businessman who applies for an internship at Jules' company. He is assigned to work with her, and stereotypes start turning upside down.

It would be easy to look at these characters and assume that wise, older Ben will impart his wisdom to the eager, younger Jules. Thankfully, those assumptions are incorrect, because Ben is there to learn from Jules. He affirms her leadership. He calls her "boss." He observes her passion for her job and rekindles passions in his own life. An older generation gleans wisdom from a younger generation.

Of course, Jules also learns from Ben, but not in a hierarchy of power. They become friends. Best friends, even. Some of the younger men working in the office also develop friendships with Ben. They teach him how to turn on his computer. He convinces them that vintage, leather briefcases and ties are cool -- not by force, but simply by being Ben. Before long, everyone is fist-bumping.

9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
— Romans 12:9-11 (New Revised Standard Version)

Mutual Affection. Genuine Love. Extravagant Honor.

While The Intern is a bit of a fairy tale, the community it depicts is one that lives out principles we should experience in the Church. Jules, Ben, and their coworkers are a community from which the Church can learn how to live out Gospel truth. It doesn't matter that a young woman is boss and the oldest employee is the coffee-fetcher. After all, the way Jesus described the kingdom of God, the least likely of children are ranked higher than the most likely of his twelve closest, most experienced friends. Friendship in God's kingdom may look as funny as Jules and Ben sharing pizza while setting up a Facebook page, but in the kingdom of God such respect is beautiful.

Who is the Ben in your life? Who is the Jules? Let's look across the generations and discover our friends -- not based on age but driven by a desire to know and be known by one another.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian