I like Jack Bauer. Many of you know this. Jack Bauer is, in my opinion, the single greatest fictional character ever devised by the mind of man. (In case you are lost, Jack Bauer is the star of a television show called 24, in which he is a government agent who has twenty-four hours to stop terrorist plots and save the country from certain ruin).
But why, though? Why, I ask myself, do I like Jack Bauer so much? And I answer myself: because he’s the coolest person ever, of course! But what, I continue, exactly is it about Jack that is so insanely fantastic? Is it simply some inexplicable essence of greatness? Or is there something more, a describable character quality or two? The latter, I believe.
There are several reasons for Jack’s awesomeness. The first is that he’s pretty darn good-lookin’, even as an old man. Especially as an old man. He has the greatest hair… Ahem! Moving on. The second reason is less superficial, and therefore infinitely more important: Jack Bauer, though the writers of the show are careful not to mention anything about God for the sake of political correctness, possesses an incredible strength that can only come from God. Jack’s character, though he does some things at times that are decidedly unchristian, is for the most part one of godly strength and determination.
Jack Bauer is driven by three things: the relentless determination to protect his country and those he loves, the desire for justice, and the desire for truth. He will not settle for one of these things without the other two, and he will do whatever it takes to make the right thing happen. Jack believes wholeheartedly in good, and he will fight to the death (and even after death: see Season Two!) for that to come about. He stops at nothing. That’s why I like him. Jack’s strength is of such a caliber that it will sustain him through torture of the most intensely agonizing kind. But there is another facet to it: he can also remain strong through inflicting torture on others. Most of us don’t like hurting people. It causes enormous amounts of stress and can result in boatloads of guilt and loss of sleep. It takes a rare human being to muster the courage to slowly carve parts off another man’s body, to hear him scream and cry and beg for it to stop and to set your face and drive the knife deeper. That sort of thing makes a normal person feel like a villain (even if he is doing it for a noble reason), and we really don’t like that. Most of us spend our lives trying to convince ourselves that we are good, nice people. Jack Bauer is willing to set aside his personal feelings of well-being and a good self-image in order to make the right thing happen. He is unselfish that way. It takes a lot of wisdom to know when it is a good thing to hurt somebody else.
Another awesome thing about Jack is his absolutely relentless determination. Jack is a human juggernaut, an unstoppable force. The sheer determination he possesses is unbelievable. When he hasn’t eaten or slept for twenty-four hours, this determination keeps him going. It drives him to fight when all seems lost. As I said before, the writers of the show are afraid to mention God, but this kind of unyielding, single-minded purpose can only come from the Almighty. This is the stuff that sustained the saints through the fires of their martyrdom. It fed David through long years of banishment. This kind of strength is superhuman. This is the determination that results from the rock-solid faith that we, as Christians, should strive for. It is inspiring!
I think my favorite think about Jack, though, is his relentless commitment to good. Jack Bauer has never been a passive observer. He does not simply have a vague, nebulous preference for good over evil. He does not just kind of wish the right thing would happen and shrug his shoulders regretfully when it does not. No! Jack Bauer is engaged! He has an active, fiery zeal! If he sees things going wrong, he leaps in and does what he must. He makes things happen! Jack doesn’t watch from the sidelines. That is why I love him: Jack Bauer takes action. This is yet another thing we can learn from this character: we need to have faith in God, and prayer is always good, but for heaven’s sake, people! Let’s get moving, shall we? Accomplish things! If the bad seems to prevail, we need to wade in and get our hands dirty! This does not mean to abandon faith in God and take matters into your own hands: on the contrary, faith is the reason you would have the strength and wisdom to do things! Mighty men of God are not characterized by the way they sit on their hands and refuse to take part in the action. You know a man of God by the way he is constantly active in forwarding the Kingdom! It is the same with Jack. He never rests. Even when it seems that he has not the power or authority to do what needs to be done, Jack continues regardless. Not that he is disrespectful to authority; Jack always takes steps through the proper channels before doing something crazy, but when the authorized avenues have been exhausted, he steps up and does what must be done. Jack is actively committed to making sure justice is executed and the truth is known.
Jack Bauer may be fictional, but I believe that every Christian should strive to follow his example of superhuman strength and passionate commitment to truth and justice. The heights of his strength are not unreachable. We should be so secure in our faith in God that we can move mountains or stay strong through agonizing pain. We should be so intensely devoted to righteousness that we will literally not rest until it comes about. We need to be engaged! We need to be strong! We need to be fearless! Jack Bauer never mentions God, but his character illustrates what it looks like to have unshakeable faith in the Lord. He is an inspirational model for Christians everywhere.
Long live Jack Bauer!