Go Ahead. Make My Day

Dirty Harry’s classic line “Go ahead. Make my day”  is one of the best Hollywood movie lines ever. Check out the super cool extended 4 min clip, or the 12 sec clip.

How might we paraphrase this? “You think you can push me around? Try me.” “Don’t mess with me. If you do, you’ll lose.” “You think, you’re tough. You haven’t met me yet.” If you can pull it off and mean it, it is downright scary, especially with a smile or a smirk.

Tough guy movie lines. Likely no other actor can pull off the line as effectively as Clint Eastwood did. Another tough guy line is from Taxi Driver, where Robert DeNiro looks in the mirror and says repeatedly, “You talkin’ to me?” Or when Arnold Schwarzenegger says in the Terminator movies, “I’ll be back,” and “Astalavista baby.”

Why are such lines so cool and appealing? It directly confronts evil. Also, it challenges anyone who uses and abuses their power to rule over, control and manipulate others. This is appealing because no one ever likes to be pushed around by anyone else. We wish to fearlessly stand up to those bullies and resist their oppression over us.

Is this biblical? I have always maintained that anything catchy and appealing is derived from the Bible–even Dirty Harry. No human is ever any match for God. Any man who resists or rebels against God already lost. Paul said, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Gal 6:7). There will always be an adverse consequence for rebelling against God. “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hos 8:7).

Wimps and push overs. There is an impression in society that Christians are mindless wimps and push overs, because they should be humble, meek, mild, and submissive. Yes, Christians should be humble, yet there is no biblical basis for a Christian to be weak or fearful of anyone or anything. Any Christian who fears any man reveals that he does not truly fear the God above the man he fears (Prov 29:25).

Tough Christians? Jesus was the toughest man who ever lived. He feared no one, not even those who would destroy him, and not even the devil who would heap the fires of hell upon him. So, yes, Christians, remembering Jesus, should be tough and fearless. No one likes spineless whiny weak wimps or gawky goody two shoes.

Bold and humble. When we remember the grace of Jesus, God enables us to be both fearless and gentle, bold and meek, courageous and humble at the same time. When we are gentle, our sinful default is to lack courage. Or when we are bold, our sinful default is to lack humility. Such polarities distort the gospel. Only the grace of Jesus gives us a poise and a balance that is winsome and soul winning.

Are you a bold yet humble spiritual Dirty Harry for the gospel?


  1. Over the past year Ben, I’ve been encouraged by your fearless and gentle, bold and meek, courageous and humble spirit! It is unfortunate that I had to leave the ministry in order to get to know you. But like you often say “ubf trained me too well.”

    Here’s my favorite “dirty harry”-type movie moment… I’ve watched this dozens of times the past year.

    3:54, 5:20 and 7:11 are my favorite parts:

  2. Yes, Brian, I also liked the movie and the scene from “A Few Good Men”. But my favourite film is Shooter. And there are many moments in the film that express my life in ubf and after ubf. The main character is betrayed, and some organization “used” his patriotic feelings to “use” him and kill him. There are such phrases in the movie like “More people are gonna die”, “…one man can make a difference…”. I think that ubf leaders are like the Montana senator (in the movie) who didn’t believe that “one man can make a difference”. But Paul teaches that one Jesus has made a difference, and every”one man” is important. Many people were kicked out of ubf. But now Jesus is with them and everyone of them can make a difference. I am very grateful to all those (hundreds) who told their stories after leaving ubf and to those who spoke up about ubf problems, especially to Joe, Chris and Brian.

    • I watched the “Shooter” today. If you can get past the gruesomeness and temper the revenge aspect, I think there are numerous parallels to what an ex-ubf member goes through, as you pointed out correctly Vitaly.

      Here are some of the parallel narratives I found:

      -a man recruited for a noble mission

      -the man is then used for knowledge and skill by those in power

      -while the man does his “noble serving”, those in power were carrying out a different agenda, using the man as cover

      -when the man’s purpose is over, he is given wounds and blamed for being the problem

      -the man then starts figthing back after a time of healing

      -he gets empathy and help from an inside person who questions things

      My most liked quote from the movie: “The problem isn’t the doing, it’s the people in power having to admit they knew.”

    • Yes, Brian, thank you for pointing out the parallel things. I have some language difficulty to do that. Personally I have one more parallel thing that I like nature and quiet life, and I would be happy to live near mountains. There was time when I had a big black dog. It was my friend. So I understand a phrase from the movie, “You don’t understand, they killed my dog” (I am not sure what it is in English). And I have a ubf story about friendship. There was a young man in Korea. He despaired in his country political system and couldn’t find his purpose in life. So one day he bought a dog and it became his closest friend. But after a while he met a ubf recruiter in the campus. He started Bible study. And one day his shepherd told him, “Now you know God, you have found your purpose in life and have become happy. What’s the use of your dog, it only takes your precious time and you are not able to do the world mission properly. So take the dog and eat it by faith!”. And the young man absolutely obeyed and ate his former closest friend and for some time he became a hero of faith in his ubf chapter, especially when he told his faith story in his sogams again and again… Such a friendship in ubf…

    • Vitaly, your English seems perfect to me. Yes, this line was classic: “You don’t understand, they killed my dog”.

      Most people won’t believe your story about the Korean and his dog, I suspect. But since I spent over 20 years in UBF, I’m not surprised. Such things become a normal part of UBF life. I find that I am numb to many things that should be emotionally shocking or disturbing. Somehow UBF trains you to be desensitized to events that normally would be shocking.

      And yes, eating your dog is a parallel to “friendship” in UBF. I’m hoping the newer generations in UBF are actually forming friendships that could withstand someone leaving the fellowship. I found that 99% of people I knew turned out to be merely acquaintances, people who accepted me only because of my prior loyal support of ubf heritage.

      I was a “hero” too, for similar acts… I sold my favorite guitar for offering to build a new center… I sold my new truck to go to Russia… I ended my relationship with my girlfriend… I danced in Russian dance instead of studying for exams… and on and on, all “by faith” and “for Jesus”. I even broke into my friend’s house and helped steal their belongings “by faith”!

      In the end, the emotional, spiritual and psychological wounding that occurred in ubf was as violent as the physical violence in The Shooter movie.

    • Thanks for the link Vitaly. I’m going to watch this movie asap. I found out it is on Netflix.

      The line about “one man” is a ironic one in ubf terms, because ubf always used to teach about how “one man” is the “whole world” and can make a difference. I can’t wait to see what “one woman” could do! If only the women in ubf would speak up publicly more often…

      In my observation, ubf is still doing just what the “Shooter” movie trailer talks about: let one man take the blame and then silence that man.

      There are some new changes taking place in various places in ubf in America, but the pattern is nearly the same as in the prior 3 reform movements. ubf takes the best of what we ex-members say and then implements it without really changing the heritage. I actually have proof of this. I sent a document to certain people on my suggested changes. They used that document and after making many changes published it online.

      Also, anyone else notice how ubf picks up new words during each reform attempt. For example, how many ubfers now use the word “grace” or “Holy Spirit” or “doctrine”? New vocabulary for ubf. But also new acronyms get created so that real ubf people can be identified easily, such as “LDW”,

      So the narrative goes like this yet again in 2012, just like in 1976, 1989 and 2001:

      “See, ubf is ok. We’ve been ok all along. What are those bitter ex-members talking about? And besides, there is only one or two people criticizing ubf anyway. And they are just wounded still.”

      Yet I admit there are a couple new changes this reform movement. Not sure what to make of these things but they seem good:

      1. a change in the founder’s day

      2. a new ministry (which has my full support by the way)

  3. Here is the “Shooter” movie link on Netflix:

    Shooter (2007 starring Mark Wahlberg)

    I’ll share more thoughts after watching it, but from the reviews I can see what you mean Vitaly. If any current ubf person wants to understand me or Vitaly or Chris, please watch this movie.

  4. Thanks, Vitaly, Brian. I did watch Shooter some years back, but do not remember any details, nor the conspiracy. I will plan to watch it again. Yes, the Few Good Men scene is watchable over and over again and never gets old!

    I understand that some UBF leaders are quite oppressive, controlling and manipulative (without being quite aware of it, or if they are aware of it, they believe it to be their God given right). I know some of them, have met most of them and even personally experienced it myself, as you have. And yes, such unpalatable behavior makes UBF cult-like and wounding/damaging to members who were oppressed for decades such as yourself. Such a system and paradigm is clearly unhealthy, because it is like a “political system” of being ruled over by some higher human church authority (Mk 10:42; Mt 20:25), who do not communicate equality, since they functionally believe they are “higher up” on the basis of their years of faithfulness and commitment to serve UBF/God. I have written disapprovingly and extensively on this, as you know.

    My response is not to defend such unChristian UBF leader’s behavior. I’ve said often that UBF leaders who have hurt you are sinners, and as sinners they (and we) have blind spots, prejudices, and wounds themselves, which they are either unaware of, or unwilling to confess publicly. Unfortunately, UBF leader’s blind spot and oppressive behavior has been conditioned by 50 years of control/manipulation/politicking in the name of shepherding, which may thus be hard to completely break overnight, or even after several reforms over the last few decades.

    But it is being addressed, albeit slowly and for sure, not publicly. It will perhaps also not be completely corrected, as you said, but there are increasing number of current UBF members who view this as a real and serious problem, which they do want to address and correct.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Ben, and for your voice to continue to speak up. I am glad to hear that there are an “increasing number of current UBF members who view this as a real and serious problem, which they do want to address and correct.”

  5. One of the themes I mention above in the movie “Shooter” was this: “while the man does his ‘noble serving’, those in power were carrying out a different agenda, using the man as cover”

    Here is a perfect example of this dual-agenda from the recent Cologne UBF report. The two German men wanted to give thanks to God. But the UBF directors had their agenda to raise UBF heritage-loyalists:

    “In preparation time, Eberhard Gross and Volker Keller were convinced that through this conference we should build an altar of thanksgiving to God. At the same time we wanted to raise two longtime Bible students as shepherds. But the messengers we first chose, were not ready.”


  6. Saw “300” today. My new favorite “make my day” moment is near the end…