Hey everybody! Hope everyone’s doing well. I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I try not to force anything, or write when my heart isn’t in it. And I haven’t really been inspired to write much lately. Although that changed after something definitely caught my attention, and I felt I had to share it.
I watched the movie An Interview With God last night, and let me just say, wow! It’s definitely a thought provoking movie, and has caused me to look at God a little differently. I understand the movie is a fictional story (obviously), but there are four things the man who is supposed to be God says that definitely opened my eyes:
- “Faith is a journey. Not a destination. It’s a lot like a marriage.”
- “The Bible is the Word of God, but it’s interpreted by man.”
- “I gave you the New Law thinking it would make more sense.”
- “I always try to communicate with my children. But often you don’t listen.”
Faith as a journey, not a destination
This first statement by “God” is a comforting one for me, because I often feel like if I do not read the Bible every day, or pray every day, or pray “good enough” that I will never become the man God made me to be. The tough part with that is, if I think that way, I will get discouraged, constantly beat myself up, and never get to a point where I feel like I am following God the best that I can. We all need to follow and learn from God the best we can in our own way, and then wherever the gap is, God’s grace and forgiveness can cover us. No one was a worthy follower of God. Ever. And no one will ever be. The only worthy follower of God was Jesus Christ Himself. And it is that worthiness that made Him the ultimate sacrifice for humanity.
Faith is a daily growth process. Some days I am on fire, I’m so jacked up, excited, ready to learn, and I can see God absolutely everywhere! Other days, I struggle mightily. I sometimes feel like God doesn’t hear me or my prayers, that my unbelief or doubt blocks my mind from seeing God or learning ANYTHING from Him, or that He’s angry with me and turning His back on me.
But I have never abandoned my faith. Even on my worst day. I’ve been angry, sad, frustrated and devastated, but I have never fully given up hope. Nor have I become so arrogant on my strongest days to think it will never be tested or shaken. There are ups and downs. Peaks and valleys for you, me, and all of those who truly wrestle and question their faith. And the quote “Faith is a journey. Not a destination” comforts me so much. You will have ups and downs. It’s guaranteed. For those of you who are married folks, you’ll understand the marriage/faith analogy better than I will since you have a spouse, and I do not. I like when God says in the movie that faith is a lot like a marriage. It shows me that up and down days are completely normal, and to keep trying and keep going.
The Bible is The Word of God, interpreted by Man
I grinned when I first heard this while watching the movie. Partly because I am glad that I am on the right track in that understanding of the Bible. And partly because I imagine self-righteous holy rollers hearing that, and steam coming out of their ears before they condemn whoever directed the movie! I had to smile and chuckle, and nod my head.
Their belief that the Bible is infallible by their strict interpretation drives me crazy! Yes, the core concepts of all that happened in the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments, Jesus being who He is, His miracles, Crucifixion and Resurrection are all intact. As they should be. But there are SO many translations of the Bible throughout the last 2,000 years, that it is impossible to me, that a human writer didn’t leave things gray or vague somewhere, or mess up.
Yes they were inspired by God, but they were still flawed and prone to error from being human. Some, such as the Apostle John, heard from God directly, such as when he wrote Revelation while in exile on the island of Patmos. I couldn’t imagine physically seeing God, or hearing His voice. I’d be scared to death! But imagine for a second that you are John and a vision of a time thousands of years into the future is shown to you. Or you’re Isaiah, and you see a vision of a man being crucified nearly two thousand years into the future, long after you know you’ll be dead. You’re not going to be able to fully understand what you’re seeing or hearing. So what do you do? You explain what you see in the terms and language that you know. Which is how we get the Book of Revelation, and Isaiah 53, or the Suffering Servant chapter of Old Testament scripture that many believe foretells Jesus’ death on the Cross.
In these two examples there arise several points of contention between many different people. Revelation is so chock full of symbolism that it could mean so many things. And Isaiah 53 is a hotly debated piece of scripture between Jewish and Christian theologians. One side sees the chapter as a metaphorical story for the suffering of the nation of Israel, while the other sees it as a direct reference to Jesus, perhaps THE most direct reference to Jesus in Old Testament prophecy.
My point is, that the Bible, while true in many ways, does leave a lot open to interpretation if one truly examines and questions it, thanks to the human authors who wrote it while being spoken to or inspired by God. I’m grateful that whoever directed this movie had the humility to realize that when we go beyond what we know to be true in the Bible, everyone could have their own, slightly different (or completely different) interpretation.
God gave us the New Law
This one was interesting. I already knew that Jesus professed to be bringing the New Law to earth, but it was still an eye opener to hear God say he basically changed His mind in the movie. Forgive me for heavily paraphrasing here folks, but I remember hearing something like “I gave you the Law of Moses, and as you grew, I gave you the New Law with Jesus.”
Hearing that opened my eyes, because it made God so much more relatable to me. Before I heard this in the movie, I always had trouble understanding how Jesus’ teachings build on what we know from Moses and the Old Testament. I also always had this view that once God had made up His mind in giving the Old Law to Moses, that He couldn’t change His mind, or that would somehow make Him “not God.” So I saw Him as rigid and immovable in that sense.
But here’s the thing: If God is who we believe Him to be, He can do whatever He wants. He is all-powerful! And what He seems to want to do is teach us by giving us faith in Jesus, so we shouldn’t restrict Him in our own minds. It would seem arrogant to do so. This is where I would have a point of contention with Jewish theologians. Some of them believe that God is one, that there is no Holy Spirit, and that Jesus is a failed messiah based on what they know of the Torah. But when they put limits on God, they are making the same mistake in their thinking that I used to make: They are compartmentalizing Him. They are putting God in a box, and denying that He has the power to do anything. Including show up in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.
I don’t ever want to diminish Him, but when the God character in the movie explained why He changed His mind between the Old Law and New Law, it almost made Him more like us. Dare I say more human-like? Imagine a story for a second. A father has very young children. These children don’t know right from wrong yet. They’re toddlers or babies. He teaches them the basics of right and wrong, as well as respect for him as their father. Sometimes he disciplines them, and is strict with them so they’ll remember what’s important. Then as they grow, they are taught respect, love and compassion for others, even for those they may not like.
This is how I see the transition from the Old Law of Moses to the New Law established by Jesus. The Jewish people of Jesus’ time already followed the Old Law. Many followed it well. Especially the Rabbis and Pharisees. But it was time for the people to go beyond animal sacrifices, not mixing foods or fabrics, and other things of that nature. So Jesus came to earth to teach them and us, that we needed to learn the deeper meaning of what it meant to truly love and serve God by focusing on loving humanity in many different ways. Ways that are simple in definition, but very difficult to practice.
I also view people who hear, and reject Jesus, no matter what faith they have, like stubborn children in the “father story.” They know of and hear what he is trying to teach them. But for whatever reason, they don’t want to listen. Whether it’s stubbornness, or being set in their ways and fearing being pushed outside their comfort zone. I definitely count myself on this list. I am stubborn, and I don’t listen to God as much as I should. And I often fear life when I don’t always know where I am going. But Jesus bringing the New Law was like God saying, “Okay. You know the Law of Moses well enough. You’re ready for something more advanced. The Teacher has just arrived. Listen to Him.”
God always tries to speak to us, but we don’t listen
This last quote from God in the movie was cool to me because I think it helped me to solve my own problem with how I pray. Or at least it helped me to see the problem, and I can work on correcting it. But in the movie, God was chastising the man interviewing Him for not listening for answers after praying. That is me. To a tee. I pray, and then I often don’t hear or see answers to my prayers, and I feel like God either didn’t hear me, or that He’s just left me here to stumble around aimlessly.
But it’s hard to listen to God when we’re constantly expecting whatever it is we want, and not the lesson or wisdom behind whatever it is that He’s trying to teach us. I blame my problem with this on my impatience with life. Instead, I need to pray sincerely for whatever it is that I want or need, sit back, and listen or look. And if God doesn’t answer that particular prayer, I need to accept it and try to move forward instead of being frustrated or angry. I need to calm my mind and listen for if He’s talking to me.
All in all, An Interview With God is a great movie! It’s a wonderful way to either reaffirm your faith, teach you a new understanding of how God works, or both. While I know it is a fictional story, a lot of what I learned from this movie, including the four points above, sound like things God would say. And I feel like what I learned is worth passing on to you all 🙂
For those of you who haven’t seen it, watch it! And for those of you who have seen it, watch it again. I bet there’s at least one thing you didn’t catch or pick up on that you might see this next time. Rewatching the movie would be like reading the Bible: You may know the story. But there is always something new to learn. Catch ya later, everybody! 🙂