Coming this week – “Risen,” and at Easter – “Miracles from Heaven!” Yes, I am a big movie fan. Going to the show is a favorite pastime my wife and I have, but this is not intended to advertise a particular movie or encourage others to attend. Doesn’t it seem, though, that there have been quite a number of movies about faith and the stories of the Bible lately – some well done (Biblically speaking) and others not so well. In the last year we had two excellent faith-based movies: “War Room” and “Woodlawn” that both garnered a lot of interest. In the past few years we had movies like “A.D.,” “God Is Not Dead,” and “Heaven Is for Real.” Makes you wonder if God is trying to get our attention.
We are in the second week of the church’s Lenten Season. This is a season where many Christians of different denominations feel led to give up something. Whether they are drawn to this as a way of recognizing all Jesus gave up when He entered the wilderness for forty days or focusing on ALL He gave up on the cross of Calvary, we as Christians recognize that we could and should do so much more for the One who did everything for us. During our Ash Wednesday service last week, I challenged God’s children in the Botkins and Anna United Methodist Churches to think about giving something to God rather than giving up something. I wanted us to think about giving our lives to God – opening our hearts to Him so that, in the words of the song “Spirit of the Living God,” God could, “…melt me, mold me, fill me, use me…”
Doing this takes a very strong commitment. It is, in some ways, easier to give up something. We just make an effort to avoid certain things, but to give yourself to God takes every second of every day. But, oh what a world this would be if everyone truly gave themselves to God!
We are currently involved in a series called “Believe.” As it suggests, it is a series designed to help us really deepen our faith – to know what it is we believe and why. In the opening couple of weeks we have talked about God – the one true God – who loves us so very much. We know this because His is a love that, “… sent His One and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). God is our Father, who wants the very best for His children, so if we truly give our lives to Him, He has the very best in store for us.
Movies like “God Is not Dead” get to the heart of those who would question is God still alive, if so where is he? In a world full of hurt, anguish, and pain, people want quick – quick answers, quick relief, quick healing, and if “Heaven Is for Real” why don’t you come and end the mess of this world, God? But Peter reminds us, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
And so, we have movies like “War Room” to remind us to stay strong and turn to God in prayer – never giving up. And we have movies like “Woodlawn,” a true story that reminds us what can happen when the Spirit moves in the lives of people who have opened up their hearts to God – who have given control to Him. So yes, I do believe God is using even the medium of motion pictures get our attention, to remind us what powerful things can happen when we give ourselves to Him, when we trust God enough to say, “Here I am, Lord, use me, melt me, then reshape me into one who can better serve you – one who can use Your love to bring people together rather than divide them.”
The writer is the pastor of the Anna and Botkins United Methodist churches.