Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Millions: A Worthwhile Investment

Last night my wife and I went to see the movie millions. It's definitely worth seeing, and I'm pretty certain it's a movie I'll want to own, and use scenes in various sermons as it covers a wide variety of topics, including:

1. The nature-nurture debate. Why do two children who are raised in the same environment by the same parents, who are exposed to roughly the same experiences, respond to the main event of the movie (the finding of large sum of money) so differently? Damien is sensitive, generous, and spiritually astute, while his brother is greedy, manipulative, and cynical regarding matters of the spirit. What happened? While the matter could be addressed both psychologically and physiologically, the reality is that our responses to life's large circumstances are a revelation of response patterns which have been developing for years. This is a vital lesson reinforced in the Bible, where we are reminded that, 'as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.' If I'm open to revelation on a consistent basis, sensitive to what God is teaching through creation, his Word, and relationships with other people, then I'll respond to life's big events very differently than one who has shut down somewhere along the way. The openness leads to openness, the shutting down, to a very small world.

2. The role of money in the world and its relationship to faith. It's interesting that we tend not to talk very much about money in the church. Jesus spoke more about money than sex, or heaven, or hell. Jesus' perspective seemed to be that what we do with our money speaks volumes regarding what we value, and He seemed interested in challenging us to invest in the kingdom of God. One can't read the prophets without seeing God's concern for the poor, and one of His major complaints in the Old Testament was that the people were neglecting the poor, a theme which is carred over into the New Testament consistently. As we work towards a new facility at Bethany, it's important to remember that our investment in facilities now, enables us to invest in more people, with the long term effect that more people will be investing in the poor of the world. Already, our ministry with International Needs is substantial in this arena. I envision our project as enabling us to multiply both support for such ministries, and also to mulitply churches so that such minisitries can recieve an exponentially larger base of support. It seems to be a worthy investment!

3. Damien, the main character, is spiritually sensitive, and this makes him, as well, both naive and impractical. I can idenitify with that. We run into very dangerous territory when we say that God's ways are 'pratical'. The fact is, His ways sometimes lead to poverty, sometimes prosperity; sometimes comfort, sometimes affliction, sometimes promotion, sometimes termination. What is the role He wants me to play? You? Are we willing? Damien was willing. It's a challenge to us all.

4. Finally, there's the issue, presented as a minor theme, of water rights in the developing world. Don't forget about it. It will be front page news on a regular basis before the decade is out. And we who have enough have a moral responsibility to both speak to it, and be involved in it.

In summary, I was challenged, stimulated, provoked, and entertained by 'millions'. I hope you'll watch it and find the same!


At 1/5/05 12:24, Anonymous Dave said...

Cool. I've been curious to check out what Danny Boyle's been able to in an 'all ages' context.

At 4/12/05 12:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With regard to water rights in the developing world, you may be interested in checking out the work of Clean Water for Haiti if you're not already acquainted with it.
~ a friend of CWH


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