The safest place…

As we told people about our then possible move to Canada, we heard this phrase quite a bit: “the safest place you can be is in the center of God’s will.” Now, I’m convinced that most everyone who said this to us did not necessarily mean physically safe… but meant that if anything were to happen to us, (even death), we would be safe… but often times its used not that way, but in a way that would suggest that if you are doing exactly as God wants you to, he’ll keep you completely physically safe. More often than not, this turns into the suggestion that “if you are following god hard enough, then you’ll be generally successful in all that you do.” True, you should really do everything that you do to the best of your ability. And when you do everything to the best of your ability, it can lead to success, sometimes. But, this easily becomes something much more dangerous…

Take the movie “Facing the Giants.” Although when Leah and I moved to Canada, we escaped some of the problems of Bible-belt Christianity, unfortunately we did not escape Southern Gospel music (we’re one of the northern-most baptist churches in the world and there is still “southern” gospel music…) or cheesy Christian movies. Today, Leah and I watched a few minutes of “Facing the Giants,” I quite frankly, I got kinda upset. Upon first seeing this movie, I thought, “Thats nice, but bad acting and bad plot and bad moviemaking in general make this a pretty sorry movie.” I didn’t think to much of the message of the movie, but after thinking through it, I’m mad. I’m mad that the Christian community accepted this movie with open arms. I’m mad that of all of the people who KNOW because of their own experiences (of coursed backed up with scripture) that the Gospel is not a message of everything “working out.” Its a message of leaving the things that are dear to you in order to follow Christ. Its about letting the dead bury their own dead, not about trying to live a better life. “Life more abundantly” doesn’t mean that you live a better life with less bad things, it means that to live is Christ and to die is gain…

Facing the Giants preaches a false gospel… if you follow god hard enough, revival will break out in your school, bad kids will turn into good kids, you’ll win all of your football games (and when you don’t win, God will smite the other team because of their wicked heart, and you’ll get a chance at the championship anyway), and someone will give you a new truck, and you’ll have a witty black guy as a coworker who makes you laugh along the way… God is awesome

Thats not the gospel. The gospel is that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Sure there are a lot of people in Scripture whose lives God blessed because they followed him… but there are a lot of people who were beat, tortured, mocked, stoned, etc. because they followed God. Watch this Piper clip… its good stuff…

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3 thoughts on “The safest place…

  1. Did you watch the film all the way through, and have you read about the Kendrick brothers’ goal in making this movie? Their goal is to encourage the church.

    Take a look at one of the many interviews they’ve given about this film, and you’ll see their motive and also learn that everything that happened in the film happened with someone in the body of Sherwood Baptist Church. They’re not preaching a prosperity doctrine, they’re just telling a story.

    I think it’s exciting that a film made by a church had such a great success. Instead of bemoaning it, celebrate, and hope that they’re able to improve as they make more films.

    Look at their motive – and understand that they’re not preaching a false gospel. They’re telling a story.

  2. I don’t doubt their motives at all. I understand that they made an attempt at making a good Christian film that had a positive message and would impact the culture at large. I appreciate that goal; I think more Christian film-makers should have that same goal. I think they did a better job than most Christian filmmakers as far as the filmmaking quality; however, I don’t think its up to par with the average Hollywood film, or even the average independent film. I hope they continue to make movies and get better each time.

    But my problem is not with their motive, its with the message that their movie gives. And I don’t think it was the message they meant. But its still there. I believe that God blesses those who do his will, but scripture is clear that those blessings are rarely physical, financial, or athletic. Hosea did exactly God’s will in marriage, but he had a pretty rough one. Stephen did God’s will, and was stoned after ONE sermon. Jeremiah did God’s will and had no converts for quite a while. Paul did God’s will and had a thorn in his side(whatever that means) and couldn’t see.

    There are others who were blessed physically and financially for being righteous, but there were some who were incredibly sinful and unjust who were rich and happy as well.

    I think that “Facing the Giants” misses the mark. I think that God has still used it in quite a few people’s lives, however. But God could use a pile of dog crap to change lives, but that doesn’t make it any less a pile of dog crap.

    That last sentence was a bit harsh. But he uses me and I’m worth about as much as Rover’s poop. That doesn’t mean i’m above criticism, though.

  3. “Facing the Giants” is one of my favorite movies. And here’s what I get from it. There are times in your life when you feel pretty sure that things are falling apart and you can’t stop it, when nothing makes sense, and when you want to throw up your hands and scream ‘what else?’ And in those times, God still has a plan, is still in control. And God does want to amaze us sometimes. “Expect More.” And those are very scriptural principles. He is in control. He does have a plan. He can do more than we can even imagine. The movie doesn’t say to me that if I can just have a bit more faith I’ll get a happy ending. It says that I don’t understand everything in my life, life isn’t always easy, but God is still good. Watch a little more of the movie. “If we win, we praise Him. If we lose, we praise Him.”

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