Last week, I took my daughter to see God’s Not Dead on opening day. I am not a movie buff and I usually wait until movies come out on DVD. Call me cheap! I paid $12 for popcorn! I had no intention what so ever in seeing this film. Actually, it was Kevin Sorbo (Professor Raddison) who drew my attention. I figured if he could pull off Hercules…And he did make the film a worthwhile trip.
My review comes from the perspective of a Christian pastor. But also from the perspective of a former atheist. I was 22 years old before I heard the Gospel or opened the Bible. I walked into my first church completely unfamiliar with the culture of evangelicalism. And it is still foreign to me on most days. So I went to see this movie through the eyes of my former atheist self. And I have to be honest, it stunk!
I want to give it some credit. It had better acting than most Christian films. Kevin Sorbo did a great job as the professor (and he is pretty good looking…can I admit that as a pastor?). I mean, he was Hercules! They also had some well-acted supporting roles. In a particular scene, a woman discovers she has cancer. The actress really does a fantastic job conveying the pain, confusion, and loneliness she is feeling.
On the other hand, it is very predictable and cheesy in some places. They even met their dead-bed conversion quota for the film. I wanted to see something radical and out of the ordinary. The closest they come is having Josh’s girlfriend leave him over his “radical” faith.
But I had two major reactions to this film.
1. My daughter was inspired to live for Christ at a deeper level.
My daughter is 14 years old. Any movie that can inspire her toward faith or her future is worth the money. The best thing I took from this film was a chance to listen to her heart as she talked about her faith in Christ. I would go see it again for that reason alone. If you are looking for a conversation starter with a nominal Christian, this is it. It is not a movie designed to convince atheists they are wrong. It is a movie designed to help the undecided make a decision.
2. My daughter and I were equally appalled by our fellow Christians viewing the film with us.
There is a scene where Josh (the college student) asks his professor why he is so angry at God. He pushes Sorbo’s character into a corner (so to speak) and the professor finally confesses that “yes, I hate God! He took everything that I ever cared about from me”.
Josh responds with saying, “How can you hate Someone who doesn’t exist”?
The student’s words reverberated through the theater followed by a burst of applause and “Amen”s. I was disgusted, embarrassed, and broken as I sat their feeling the pain of my former atheist self. The professor had just confessed to pain and anger and unbelievable hurt. Yet, here, the Christians sat applauding their “win” rather than feeling his pain.
In that scene, the movie became exactly what I thought it would be: an opportunity for Christians to strut around with their spiritual arrogance completely void of an ability to “mourn with those who mourn”. We are more interested in rubbing our prowess in someone’s face than we are in being “wounded healers”.
My heart ached for the professor because he is a real person somewhere. He is someone who has been wounded. He is someone who is lonely and confused and in pain. He is me twenty some years ago!
If you are a Christian, I hope you will take the time to see the movie. If you are not a Christian, I hope you will take the time to see the movie also…just wait until it comes out on DVD.
Keep winning in 2014!
Autumn has arrived and it is a breath of fresh air. It is the season of change. It is interesting how many of us enjoy autumn, but not seasons of change. We typically fight change every step of the way. I think we fight it because it is usually forced upon us. But what if we made the decision to change? What if change was a choice?
In the month of October, we will spend time discussing what it means to make healthy life choices. We may not be able to change the past, but we do have a choice about our future. We can choose to make changes that will improve our relationships, our health, and our lifestyles. We can choose to be victors rather than victims. We can choose to break generational cycles of pain and dysfunction. We can choose a life that is good and pleasing to God. And we can choose happiness.
Join us in October and take control of your future. Come learn how to make healthy life choices that will impact you and the people in your life. Come learn what Jesus meant when He said He has come to give us abundant life.
Today, my husband and I are celebrating 22 years of marriage. It has been a great run. But it has been so much work.
I knew, we knew, it would be WORK getting married and staying married. But, there are things you know and then there are things you KNOW. After 22 years, we KNOW it is work.
We have experienced for better or worse days. We have endured for richer or poor times. We have lived through sickness and health together. After 22 years, I realize you cannot determine the success of marriage by the number of good and bad days. You cannot even evaluate it by the season you are walking through. A successful marriage takes a lifetime. It’s being able to look back on 22 years and say, “it is good, very good”.
When God created the world, on the seventh day, He rested. On the seventh day, He sat back and evaluated all He had created. Then, when He was done, He determined it was good. Why do we insist something has to be great to be valuable?
God didn’t say creation was great. He said it was good. Good is solid. Good is secure. Good tells us it is exactly the way it is supposed to be; the way God says it should be. And it wasn’t until He was finished that He was able to determine its goodness.
Are you trying to determine your marriage’s “goodness” after only a few short years? Are you evaluating its “goodness” by the season you are in? Are you calling success the happiness you feel today? It may be you have prematurely evaluated your marriage. Let God have a try. Let Him evaluate it and tell you when it is good in His eyes.
Most of us are just getting started. The first ten years we were still trying to figure out how to do this thing. Then we added children to the mix…like we had any clue about that either. Maybe you need to give yourself a break. Give your spouse a break. You are both still muddling through a lifetime. It will take a lifetime to create a successful marriage. Hang in there! God will make a way!