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Mission Impossible and the end of the world

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol wallpaper with Tom Cruise walking by himself (Credit: Paramount Pictures)

Take your blood pressure medicine before seeing Tom Cruise’s latest action thriller. I saw it Sunday afternoon—it’s a supersonic roller coaster without a seat belt.

By my count, Cruise’s character should have died at least six times before the film ends—most memorably, nearly half a mile in the air while climbing the world’s tallest building. His colleagues don’t fare much better as they face whirring razor-sharp exhaust fans and gun-wielding terrorists. Of the four Mission Impossibles, this was to me the most hair-raising. If you need an adrenaline rush for the holidays, you won’t do better.

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol wallpaper Tom Cruise climbing worlds tallest building (Credit: Paramount Pictures)The part of the movie that most interests me today, however, is not its action scenes. Without giving away the plot, I’ll confine myself to what you can learn from the film’s website: unless Cruise’s team can stop the bad guys, a Russian nuclear missile will destroy a major city in the United States. The U.S. will then retaliate and nuclear holocaust will result.

At the movie’s end, one of the characters comments on the naïveté of the public as people went about their lives, oblivious to the imminent threat against themselves and their planet. He’s right.

I have no idea if we’re in danger of an impending nuclear threat against our nation today. But I do know we’re one day closer to the end of the world than ever before. The Christmas season is called “Advent,” from the Latin adventus, “coming.” We usually think about Jesus’ first “advent,” but the first Christians to celebrate the holiday focused almost entirely on his return.

One of the earliest Advent hymns, written in the ninth century, was O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. It does not celebrate Jesus’ birth—it prays for his Second Coming. Its last stanza reads,

O Come, Desire of Nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice, rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

John could pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Can you join him today?