Heath Ledger, Jim Elliot


Heath Andrew Ledger (April 4, 1979 – January 22, 2008) was an Academy Award-nominated Australian film actor. …He appeared in nearly twenty films, including 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, and Brokeback Mountain. For his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, Ledger was nominated for a 2005 Oscar for "Best Actor in a Leading Role" and won awards from the British Academy and the Australian Film Institute, as well as two MTV Movie Awards. He had completed filming on the role of the Joker in the forthcoming movie The Dark Knight shortly before dying from an accidental prescription drug overdose at age 28 (Wikipedia).

Philip James Elliot (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) professed faith in Jesus Christ at age 6. His acting ability led some of his high school teachers to suggest that he pursue acting as a career. But instead of acting, he pursued missionary work. He and four other missionaries, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming and their pilot, Nate Saint, went to Ecuador to evangelize the Huaorani Indians. Initially they made contact from an airplane using a loudspeaker and dropping gifts down to the Indians with a basket. After a few months they established a base a short distance from the Indians’ village. They were approached by a small group of the Indians who were initially friendly. But on January 8, 1956 a group of 10 men killed Jim and his four friends, piercing them with spears and mutilating them with machetes. Like Heath Ledger, Jim Elliot was 28 years old when he died.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" (Mk 8:34-36)

Both Heath Ledger and Jim Elliot were 28 when they died. It would seem that Heath Ledger had gained the world. I know nothing about his spiritual life. If he did not know Jesus Christ, I hope he cried out to him for salvation in his final moments.

From a worldly viewpoint, Jim Elliot’s life would be a tragic loss. He certainly didn’t gain the world. And he lost his life trying to reach an obscure tribe of violent Indians.

Jim Elliot’s journal entry for October 28, 1949, contains his now famous quotation, expressing his belief that serving Jesus was more important than his life:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

What would Heath Ledger say to us today? Would he say that all his accolades, success and wealth were worth it?

What would Jim Elliot say? I think I know. He’d say, “Follow Jesus Christ with all your heart. Give yourself to serving him, even if it costs you everything you have, even your life. Believe me, it’s worth it.”

Maybe your calling is to serve your family as a wife and mother of small children. You’re not pierced by spears, but your sleep is pierced by the cries of your baby at 3 a.m. You’re not hacked by machetes, but you’ve never been so physically and mentally drained as you are now in seeking to glorify Jesus as a mom. Maybe you’re a high school student. You’re not murdered by Indians, just looked down on by others for sitting with the odd student no one else will sit with.

Wherever Jesus Christ has placed you, lose your life in serving him with all your heart. Jim Elliot would say you are no fool.

Posted by Mark Altrogge at 8:00 AM  


This is a powerful blog today Mark. What a clarion call to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ to our place of execution.

What a day that will be when we will be vindicated before all creation as those who invested in heavenly treasures where moth and rust will not destroy and thieves will not break in and steal!

Ryan Rippee said...
March 5, 2008 at 12:29 AM  

Thank you for this encouraging post! May I share this and link to you?

Anonymous said...
March 5, 2008 at 9:59 AM  


Speaking for my dad, feel free to share whatever you want!

March 5, 2008 at 12:21 PM  

how easily we're led astray to think otherwise . . .

thank you for the reminder.

"not a long life but a full one like Yours, Lord Jesus" - jim elliot

tia said...
March 5, 2008 at 12:33 PM  

Thank you for this encouragement today!!

Anonymous said...
March 5, 2008 at 1:02 PM  

Thanks for your encouragement Ryan! Amen to your comments on that "day."

Thanks Jennifer - I'm with Stephen. I'd be honored if you shared or linked it.

Tia, thanks and thanks for the other Elliot quote.

You're welcome, Leslie

Mark Altrogge said...
March 5, 2008 at 1:57 PM  


Thank you...I must say I found tears in my eyes when I got to the second to last paragraph...ministered greatly to me.

I have always loved that quote from Jim Elliot...thanks for the reminder.


Anonymous said...
March 5, 2008 at 5:38 PM  

Thanks Mark

Felt like fainting today in the dailyness of caring for 2 sick and elderly parents by myself, Needed to hear the call to press on - Sometimes it's hard to see my way clear in the midst to the One who poured it all out for me. Thanks for your ministry of care!!


Deb said...
March 5, 2008 at 6:50 PM  


I'm glad this ministered to you in some small way - thank you.

Mark Altrogge said...
March 5, 2008 at 10:28 PM  


What a challenge you must have caring for your parents. Your sacrifice is so pleasing to Him. I hope you feel his pleasure.

Mark Altrogge said...
March 5, 2008 at 10:31 PM  

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