Being a car fanatic, I recently watched Eric Bana’s documentary “Love the Beast.” The movie chronicles Bana’s love affair with his 1974 Ford XB Falcon Hardtop (the same car Mad Max drove!), which he bought when he was 15 years old and restored with his four life-long “mates” (Bana is Australian).

While the title captures Bana’s devotion to his car, it begins to take on a whole new meaning when he wrecks it in the Targa Tasmania, an amateur rally race. After the crash, the beast that Bana struggles to love is not so much his Falcon as himself. He recognizes the danger and seeming immaturity of his passion, and yet is unable to let it go. What does it say about him that he loves a piece of metal so much? How can he spend so much time, energy and money, even risking his life, on an inanimate object?

Bana’s inner conflict is the one we always experience between the works of love and the works of the law, between what we want to do and what we should do, what we ought to love and what we actually love. Paul says, very clearly, that we can gain nothing through the works of the law, the “ought”, and that anything we do without love is worthless (1Co 13). Yet we don’t often allow ourselves to indulge our passions, choosing rather to do those things which we feel we must, no matter how lovelessly.

In the end, Bana makes peace with his passion, his car and himself. It is the car which has been the locus for his loving relationships with his father, his friends, even total strangers. An enthusiasm for motoring may not be what most have in mind when they think of “labor prompted by love” (1Th 1.3), but it is clear that Bana’s affection for his beastly ride enables and fuels his love for beastly men and women, including himself.