Sunday, July 08, 2007

Hollywood and Religion

Hollywood has a bad habit of oversimplifying what it means to believe in God - regardless if they are trying to put a negative or positive spin on things.

I was pleasantly surprised then, when I went to see Evan Almighty recently with my family, that it really wasn't watered down.

In the movie, God tries to impress upon Evan the importance of kindness. Of the need for us to randomly commit acts of kindness to others. I'm sure there are a lot of people who follow God, and a lot who follow Jesus (or say they do) that think this might be an oversimplification, but I'm not so sure.

It was the heart of the message of Jesus. If you're familiar with the Old Testament, then you know the Jews lived by a long list of rules that God had given them. Jesus was a Jewish teacher, and those who specialized in the rules tried to trick Him at one point, asking Him which of those commands was most important. And Jesus answers directly. The first is, Love God (found in Deuteronomy). The second is, Love others (found in Leviticus). Jesus says that these are the most important rules - that all the other rules hang on these.

He said other things, like, people will know you are my follower if you love each other. Or, if someone smacks you in the side of the face, give them the other side to smack; or if someone steals your jacket, give them your shirt, too; or if someone forces you to do some work, do twice as much as they're forcing you to do.

I know I've said a lot of this before, and maybe I'm beating a dead horse, but he even said kindness - caring for people in need - was what was going to separate the people going to Heaven from the people going to Hell.

Jesus was full of crazy stuff like that. Stuff we don't like to teach in church. Stuff that we don't think is very American. Stuff that tends to be real unpopular, except maybe as a fad every once in a while, but not to be really paid attention to.

Of course, Jesus walked the walk, too. Talking to the people no one else wanted to talk to. Spending time with the losers, outcasts, and those that church people thought were bad.

Being God's ambassadors, it's just something we so often skim over, and spend very little time on - it's interesting to see that secular entertainment hits the nail on the head.

So, am I trying to say that being kind is all there is to following Jesus? No. But, then again, He's the one that said it was most important.

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