Facing The Giants. The movie made by a church and acted by church members. I had heard good stuff about it so I said, what the heck, its $4 to rent. So I rent. I watch. I get irritated. I continue to watch. Get more irritated.
Okay. If you haven't seen it and plan to, stop reading now!
This has nothing to do with the Church's intent. This is not a dis on their sincerity. This isn't even a reflection of the lacking acting abilities. I mean heck, they are doing what they think is a good thing for the world, according to their doctrine.
My concern is this: What happens when people who are not believers or those who are exploring this thing called Christianity see this film and ...
Well here's the thing. I call it the Santa Claus Jesus theory. You just ask Jesus for something and he gives it to you. In this movie, there are all sorts of little subplots. Need to win the big football game? Just pray the right prayer to Jesus and he delivers the win in this movie. Having financial difficulties? No problem. Just pray to Jesus and you will get an unexpected raise! Car broke down? Jesus knows it and he provides a brand new pickup truck for you out of the blue! Oh yeah, but the offer doesn't stop there, no sir! If you order now, you will also get the pregnancy you always desired - even after the doctors said it was impossible, absolutely free!
Now maybe you believe this theory of Jesus. Maybe you have always prayed to Jesus for, oh, lets see, that the hot girl will like you and go out with you. Or maybe your prayer is a little more important. Maybe you prayed that the test results will come back negative for cancer. Maybe your prayer is for your loved one to quit being abusive! Did it happen? Did the magic occur for you? Call me quirky, but I'm pretty sure I have seen two opposing football teams both praying on the field before a game, and be damned if one of them didn't loose anyway.
Matter of the fact, I have seen people pray that their loved one to be healed and you know what? Sometimes it doesn't happen.
Some people pray and what they want happens. Some people pray and what they want does not happen. Whats wrong with the latter? They must not have had enough faith! Maybe they said the prayer wrong.
Or maybe we are missing the point. The Gethsemane prayer, "Not my will, but thine", even when Jesus was asking to avoid what was about to happen, he understood that it wasn't about his will, but what God needed to do in the circumstance. Lords prayer: "Thy Kingdom Come, THY WILL be done".
Recently, this film was shown to a bunch of at-risk youth because the person showing it thought it would save them, introduce Jesus to them. But what happens to these youth when they do the magic prayer and; they are still poor? parents are still abusive? dad doesn't get out of prison early? According to the movie it should happen. Does this mean God doesn't love them? Does it confirm to them they are not worthy, just as society has told them. Or worse, does it plant the seed in their minds that Christianity is just a bunch of crap from do gooder people who have no idea where they are coming from. My concern is that instead of turning them to Jesus, it will drive them away.
Don't get me wrong. It isn't totally a whacked concept. I have experienced Santa Claus Jesus several times. Healing my daughter when it didn't seem probable. Unexpected monies arriving when I was desperately short on cash. Changing the heart of another person. I have also experienced the other side - where my prayer wasn't always answered as I had wished.
I think if this film had shown both sides of the isle, I wouldn't have had such an adverse reaction to its message. However, I am concerned what it will do in the long run, when Santa doesn't deliver as depicted.