While my legal employment status is still "volunteer non profit" most people venturing far enough into my reality to land here would know me as most do, as a Christian missionary living in New Zealand. As such, similar to most people in full time ministry my life often feels like a fish bowl. I'm the orange little goldfish with massive eyes swimming around eating rocks while the rest of the world stand as spectators outside the glass, with a view a very unique view into my life. Thanks to social media, not only do I live in a fish bowl to the other staff and students around me but also to countless friends, family, supporters, church leaders, former employers and ministry contacts in numerous countries, time zones and places around the world. With this understanding I try (with a fair amount of self control) to not post statements on politics, global crisis, cultural discussions, etc. Nor do I usually post on other people's sometimes bold statements. This does not mean that I refrain from these discussions completely I just choose to have them privately and in person with the full acceptance that; sometimes I just don't know that much. (James 3:1).
Within the next few days my Facebook will read something along the lines of "Night in the city. Movie time!" So today I want to try and write a quick bit about why I will be going to see the movie "Noah."
The past many days I've seen a lot of friends post things on Facebook and Twitter about "boycotting" the movie "Noah" that will hit New Zealand theaters tomorrow. Something about it just didn't sit well in my spirit about it so I spent some time in prayer and reflection as I ran along the beach yesterday. (Get the irony there with that water????) So here's what I've come up with;
1. Frozen (x2), Catching Fire (x3) Justin Beiber, 12 Years a Slave, Give me Shelter, Madea's Christmas, Walter Mitty, The Book Thief. That's a list of the movies coming to mind that I've seen in theaters in the last many months. A lot of Christians I know have seen those movies, most people I know saw "Frozen" and didn't think twice about boycotting it. It's sweet and innocent. Whether every lesson in Frozen is something we want our little girls picking up and acting out. (Clearly I don't want Isabelle or Faith coming home with a fiancé a day after meeting him, or consulting rock trolls after a major injury!) but the over all message of the movie was sweet. I've had multiple discussions with my 8 year old niece about the topics of fear, love and redemption because of the movie Frozen. If an eight year old can find glimpses of Jesus in Disney, I am convinced an adult can in Noah. At the end of the day I believe all things belong to my God and all things point to Him. And if it's not obvious, as a Christian it's my job to find him, to point to him in all things.
2. "It's not theologically sound." This is the argument I hear the most. I have a hard time thinking of a movie that's been made in my life time (or that ones I've seen made before that) that have been incredibly theologically sound. In all honesty I just think there are very few people on the planet today who can make that claim. Most of us can say the words correctly and sound good but your average person has a very, very loose grasp on theology. At the end of the day, I believe scripture is living and breathing. John 1:1 says God IS the word. That means scripture is alive! It's living and breathing, it's moving! If this were just a book maybe we could know it completely and fully grasp it's entirety but it's not. This is a person. I cannot and will not make an absolute statement on a real person. Until heaven as much as I want to, I cannot know the depths of His heart, I will spend my life searching for them but I just can't know it all and retain my humanity.
3. This is the part that prickled my spirit the most, Christians? We're just notorious for this nit picky judgmental behavior. Do we have to take a moral and ethical stand on things, YES! For me personally this has meant major decisions about what I put in and on my body this year.
(And I am writing this still never having seen the movie, there is a point when I am very comfortable walking out of a movie theater even after having paid for a ticket. But I also am walking into this knowing that during Noah's day even God himself was horrified by the state of the world. I expect it to be artfully shown that the earth was disgusting!) Is this a Hollywood movie? Yes. There's a lot of people who stand to make a lot of money from us going to see this. Will there be parts that I wish they'd left out or added? I'm sure. But will God be mentioned? I bet He will! And unlike most movies I've seen this year I'm betting he's going to be an active part. I bet He's going to hold power. I bet he will demand something of Noah's life. And that's a heck of a lot more credit that He got in Frozen. I've just seen in my own life in the last many years a lot of times where I argued, I "took a stand" and was right and correct and moral and ethical and I hurt a lot of people. (My own family included). I tarnished my ministry. I turned people away from the truth. And I made Jesus look like a judgmental jerk! I've learned that a lot of times my best ministry is to just keep my mouth shut and love someone.
4. At the end of the day my God is creative. A few weeks ago I spent a week doing a "Noah and the Ark" unit in the daycare I run. I spent a week teaching really little ones that our God is a redemptive artist both in history and in them. We spent days finding things in creation, things that God created that we could create with. (Similar to my grasp of the flood and the earth post flood). I'm one of those things. I'm one of those things created in the hand of God that's been made dirty and gross by this earth but through great pain, violence and sacrifice I've been made new. Whether they get all the details right or not, I'm going to celebrate that. I'm going to celebrate a God whose in and through out art, music and film. I believe this could be a tool; a tool for conversation, for social interaction, for bridge building and at the end of the day a time to love. It's Hollywood guys, whether we like it or not people are going to see this movie. It's not the "unsaved' who are going to boycott this movie but Christians. Their going anyways, why not find a friend and take em to dinner and a movie and get the conversation going? Get them talking, save a few things and than shut your mouth and love em.