God’s Not Dead – Part 1

God's Not Dead PosterFor those who don’t know I work two blogs. One concentrates on my ambitions to understand the technique and art of storytelling/filmmaking and the other covers my views on faith and politics.  Even though both blogs revolve around my pursuit of art and efforts to understand God the subjects don’t usually intersect. However, just the other day I accompanied my mother and sister to the movie God’s Not Dead and I knew immediately I needed to write about my experience. Seeing it was a movie and concentrated on a the issue of faith I have decided to post my views about this movie on both my blogs. I am also going to break my thoughts into two posts. For this post I will try to explain why I chose to watch this movie and my next post will concentrate on what I felt about the film.

To be honest this movie never appealed to me. From seeing the very title God’s Not Dead I was afraid it was going to be another Christian produced film that never really tried to give us something to think about but rather told us what to think. There is an argument to be made I, along with many other secular audiences, had already made preconceived judgments on the movie without being willing to give it a chance. I will not try to suggest I went into the theater with a completely open frame of mind. I tried to have an open frame of mind but I couldn’t help but be influenced by the title, the advertisements, and the second hand comments I had already heard regarding the film.

Lets first look at the title. Why would the title God’s Not Dead turn me off? Well, you tell me the last good film you watched with a title telling the audience precisely what to think? I mean the movie didn’t even want me to think about the possibility God could be dead. I did not need to watch a frame of the movie to know we were going to see a story trying to prove the existence of God. It might just be a malfunction of how I was brought up but I was taught to think for myself. The teachers who really mattered to me allowed me to come up with my own conclusions about what I believed. However, this film with its very title suggested it didn’t want to trust the audience in that way.

The advertising for God’s Not Dead felt just as manipulative as the title. Here is the first trailer I had seen for the film:

Here is another example of the movie not trying to leave anything up to the imagination. Sure the movie suggest the premise is “We are going to put God on trial”. But based on the characters we see in the trailer and the Newsboys song playing in the background with the lyrics “God’s not Dead, he is surely alive” we could tell this premise is only there to thinly disguise a cookie cut message about the evils and dangers of the secular world and the need for us to choose God. The reporter in the trailer even asks about those who don’t believe and the famous Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson replies, “If we disown Him (God), He will disown us”. The secular world is represented by a power hungry professor who calls himself god. We also see another secular businessman who is asked to visit his mom and replies back, “What’s in it for me?”. They don’t want us to question the story arc of the freshman either. The trailer makes sure to show us a clean cut collage Christian who ends up standing for what he believes and confronting his power hungry professor. I felt like the trailer showed a movie aiming to make the Christian audience feel good about themselves at the expense of the rest of the world. The trailer offended me because it seemed to be further proof of a film interested in talking down to it’s audience by not even giving them the chance to discover any truths for themselves.

Now the title and the advertising of the film are prime examples of why I wasn’t interested in going to the movie. So the big question is, why did I end up going? After God’s Not Dead came out I found the reaction from friends and across the internet interesting. What was most intriguing was the difference in opinion I heard from the Christian base compared to the secular base. There were advertisements all over my Facebook wall where Christian friends were posting statuses declaring “God’s Not Dead” and suggesting I and the rest of Facebook go see the movie. I also saw flyers posted claiming the film was #2 in the Country’s Box Office. I didn’t really understand where this stat was coming from since Box Office Mojo and IMDb claimed it took fifth in the box office nationally. Absolutely none of my none Christian friends claimed to see the movie. I did look on Rotten Tomatoes and out of the few people who chose to review the movie, it received a 20% rotten Tomato rating. For those who don’t know it takes a 60% or higher for a film to receive a “fresh” rating.

So what was this huge separation about? Why were so many outside the faith criticizing the movie and so many inside the faith praising it? Why was an advertising campaign that felt manipulative and demeaning to me seem to intrigue so many of my Christian friends?  I knew I needed to check out the movie for myself to find out these answers. Rather then make this post excessively long I will leave you guys with a cliff hanger and give my thoughts on the actual movie in my next post.

Revival

I often am told about Revival. I have been told that is usually comes in great gatherings and during Church conferences. This might be true. But it is not where it starts and it can’t be were it ends.

I think that revival is crying out in ALL of us. I see it while I am walking by people on the streets and I feel it in the Schools and Churches. They are calling for something they do not yet have. Most of them are crying out for something they do not yet understand.

I have realized that revival is meant to be far more then just a short term thing. Revival must be something that lasts. Something that doesn’t just change the outside but changes the heart of an individual.

Often the philosophy of this nation is that, “The bigger, the Better”, when it comes to revival. We also need to be told again and again that revival is coming. I actually hear more about revival coming then see it when it actually comes.

Revival is the restoration of life. This is a powerful notion. But, revival is often called for more then it is really wanted.

If you encounter TRUE revival you will need to be able to do something that the world has all but given up on.

You will need to wake up.

“Waking up”, is a harsh notion. If you truly wake up and choose to LIVE, you will have to be willing to see how DEAD the world is. Imagine the scene in “The Matrix”, Neo (the main Character) seeks revival and chooses to wake up from the program he has been put to sleep under. When Neo wakes he is devastated to see the millions of people who are still asleep and he finds that he is week and defenseless because he had never actually used a muscle in his body before. This is often the case with true revival.

Often I want to choose to stay asleep, then I won’t need to see the genocide in this world, you won’t need to care about the millions of woman choosing abortion. If you choose to stay asleep you will be able to forget about the kid who is not excepted. If you stay dead you are able to avoid conflict and debate and you are able to drown out the cries of this nation.

When you are asleep you don’t need to truly worry about your gifting. There is no obligation to learn more and get better at what you do. Criticism is easily neglected and fluff (or false praise) is all that matters.

I often think of God and how he is the DEFINITION of LIFE. I often think of how sad things might make Him. To see the world and see the true pain millions are going through because of starvation. To see the hearts of men giving up on those in need.

With LIFE you must be willing to feel and this can be a very painful thing.

There have been many of those days that I have woken up energized and ready to go. I have felt like I could change the world and move mountains with my faith. I have felt like I could speak to nations and cast vision throughout the land. But the feeling isn’t the actual revival.

I think Revival is being alive enough to be able to see, and being willing to do something about what you see. When you truly choose to be REVIVED, you will be able to find your vision and you will be able to see what God has for you. The problem is that REVIVAL calls for action in the good times and bad.

You are alive so you can do something on this earth. Because you are alive you are subject to feeling. You will be able to feel the greatness of life along with the sorrows of life. No matter what, you still must choose to pursue your calling and bring action to your words.

Revival is the only thing that can bring on true change. If you choose to be revived you will find that life can be fulfilling. There is a power in being able to truly feel, truly see, and TRULY be able to make a difference.

Revival is like a spark. With a spark you can light a nation.

Selfish Christianity

For some reason we have been taught that Revival is supposed to make us “feel good”. We are supposed to see the true power of God, in having the lame walk and the blind see by us merely touching them. “The true power of God”, is shown by what we can do for others, without really needing to put the effort into getting to know them or finding out what they truly need. We base, how powerful God is, by how much we can feel Him and how helpful He is to us.

God and Revival, my friends, has become a very Selfish thing.

Because we have made God and Revival be about us, we are not able to have a consistent faith. It is true that you can go to Church or a few big conferences and get all hyped up about God. But, the “spiritual high” is not what keeps the boat floating. When we make God be about, us being able to “truly feel” Him, we put a limit to what He can do.

Many people have shouted out for Revival and have told me that they want nothing but to follow God. If that is truly the case, the answer is easy. Bring Revival and follow God. Nothing is holding you back. The only thing it requires is selflessness. Jesus explained many times in the Bible, that He is about helping others. No matter how bad it got, Jesus stayed true to His word and chose to be selfless and sacrifice it all so that He could help us.

When we stay true in our faith during the storms as well as the clear days, we will start to make a difference. Our heart MUST be set on the people who need help, no matter how bad the weather is for us.

At the lowest of points, will you have the faith the move forward? True Revival does not stay in a building or just last for a few days. Revival is about the every day life you lead. Revival is about pushing yourself to get better even though the world is trying its best to keep you numb. When we are more interested in serving God then ourselves, Revival will come.

So many people seem to be standing around looking up in the air convinced that soon they will see the “Miraculous Power of God”. I look up and just see the sky, but when I look around I begin to see people crying for help. Few seem to be helping them however, most Christians I talk to, are just too worried that they will miss “God”.

Why do we let “God” get in the way of the people who need our help? When a young woman comes to our door with a baby in her hands asking for help, do we tell her to, “go to God with your problem“? This is an example of where the world and Christianity is at. The world is in desperate need for help, but we often do not want to get involved. We tell them to go to Church or tell them that We will “pray” for them, but we rarely do anything.

God Wants us to be His hands and feet. He is crying out for you and me to do something for those that need help. But often, it seems, we ignore God. We often use the Church and God as an excuse not to get involved. We say that these people will get better when Revival comes. We often think that we must wait and “pray” for it to get here. Revival is already here, it only requires us to step up and choose to walk in our faith.

Your faith is not measured by how many physical healings you see or Church services you go to. It is about the actual change in your life. Your faith is measured by how much you are willing to give to God no matter how hard it is or where it takes you.

Let us not just look for God in the parting of seas or moving of mountains. Let us see God in the true changes of peoples hearts, after you choose to get involved. Let us make the Church be about feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless, rather then just the Sunday Church service and weekly youth group. God is so much more then a quick “high” or occasional healing. Revival and God, is about a consistent walk in the true calling of your heart.