Monday, October 02, 2006

Facing the Giants

Saturday evening, I went with a group of women from my house church to see "Facing the Giants." This movie was produced by two brothers from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA. I understand all the actors are members of that church who volunteered their efforts for the movie. I'm guessing that's why the acting is really, really, really bad. I felt like I was watching a high school play.

Anyway, the movie is about a burned-out high-school football coach who is on the verge of losing his job because of his losing football team. And his wife can't get pregnant. Oh, and his car barely runs. (Oddly enough, the guy only makes $24,000 a year and his house is nicer than anything we have ever dreamed of living in. I made just under that while Chad was in grad school and our house looked nothing -- NOTHING -- like this guy's does.)

Anyway, on the brink of despair, the coach walks out into the woods by his house and gives his life to God. He then changes his coaching style from focusing on winning games to giving glory to God -- whether the team wins or loses.

I didn't want to give away too much about this movie, but it is pretty predictable, so what the hey. The team ends up winning the state championship. Of course it does.

Initially, I came out of the theatre feeling like I basically liked the movie. I liked the message of how drastically things in your life can change when your focus is on God instead of yourself. I could also appreciate the coach's wife's unwaivering faith through negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test. And if you like the idea of the little guy beating the big guy despite overwhelming odds, you might like the movie.

But after I thought about it a couple of days, here's what I didn't like. The movie promotes a concept that we see all too often in American Christian culture: If you give your life to God, your life will pretty much be perfect. Let's see what all happens to this guy:

- his team wins not one, but TWO state championships
- his wife, who has been told her only options for having children are in vitro or adoption, gets pregnant -- not once, but twice
- somebody anonymously gives the coach a brand-new truck
- his tough-guy, bad-attitude player gives his life to Christ, setting off a student body-wide revival
- he gets a raise

*POOF!* No more problems! See why you should be a Christian?

The truth is that many people out there sincerely give their lives to God but still can't have children or hang on to their marriages or their jobs.

I'm sure there are clusters of believers around the nation who have hope for this movie to spur a nationwide revival. Call me a pessimist, or maybe just a realist, but I can't see that happening. First of all, I don't know why non-Christians would go see this movie in the first place. Of the Christians who do go, I'm sure some will be uplifted and encouraged. But I'm afraid some will leave the theatre thinking their faith must be inferior since they still face major problems despite having given their lives to God long ago.

The producers of this movie likely wanted to send a message to America through "Facing the Giants" that if you give God control, he will do amazing things in your life. And I believe that's true. But I'd like to send this message back to the movie producers: Christ never promised us a problem-free life, or even happiness for following him. What we DO get is eternal life. That's where the perfect life will be -- not on this earth.

Two more notes: if you see this movie, watch for the token FBG (Funny Black Guy) and the come-from-nowhere star kicker named David who saves the championship game for the team against the reigning state champions, the Giants (David vs. the Giants...get it?)

I did have a great time with my new friends, though. Afterward we went to CozyMel's and briefly considered running away to Colorado. But we went home to our families instead.


  • At Mon Oct 02, 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Reever said…

    Amen, sista. I haven't seen the movie, but based on your description, I feel like I'd have the same review. One of my favorite psalms is not found in Psalms, but in 2 Samuel 22. David praises God for his faithfulness in all scenarios:

    33 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.

    34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.

    So whether God makes your path straight or gives you "feet like the feet of a deer" so you can stand on the rockiest of paths, He provides a way.

    -Mark Reeves

  • At Mon Oct 02, 12:57:00 PM, Blogger Sarah said…

    You make a great point. And, if nothing else, if the acting is really, really, really bad -- why WOULD a non-Christian go to see it? That guy had all that AND an awesome house? Very difficult to believe. Anyway, I'm thankful that Christians are trying to "regain control" of our entertainment industry, but somehow there has to be a better way of beating them at their own game.

  • At Mon Oct 02, 01:54:00 PM, Blogger Cheryl said…

    Great insights...this is a theology we struggle around in the third world. The "accept God and have a perfect life" doctrine is popular...but empty. And leaves so many disconcerted and confused. When it is taught that God's presence is indicated by ease of in the pocket....everything falling into place... people who feel forced to endure a life that involves difficulty, struggle and poverty...can come to understand that God is out of reach. Or not available to them.
    Which is a lie. He is always within reach. Always available. And...most importantly...Enough. He, alone, is Enough.

  • At Mon Oct 02, 08:25:00 PM, Blogger Tracy said…

    Well said. And keep saying it!

  • At Tue Oct 03, 03:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with you also. I'm a Christian and I still struggle with the ghosts from my past. I also have a child with autism and that doesn't go away, even with Christianity.

    Today I have my first appointment with a counselor, and it is also not the first time I have been in counseling. Life has just gotten too difficult for me to navigate without some help.

    This is another thing about American Christianity I dislike: the "just trust God and everything will be all right" mentality.

  • At Tue Oct 03, 06:05:00 AM, Blogger Paige Robins said…

    I just don't understand where many American Christians get that idea...certainly not from the Bible. Sure, I believe we can experience "heaven on earth," but not through material possessions. True happiness comes from being content in all circumstances. Or maybe I should say joy, not happiness. All material possessions do is provide more to worry about. And yet, that's the promise given by American God and He will give you a Porsche. Crazy.

  • At Tue Oct 03, 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Jana said…

    Great insight and commentary. You are right when you say "Christ never promised us a problem-free life..." What He DID give us was the potential for communing deeply with other believers no matter what our life situation. I think a lot of Christians say they want "true community" but when it's down to the line, too many people are afraid to share their fears, struggles, heartaches. We need more movies and stories about people who are able to connect spiritually amidst all the junk of life.

  • At Tue Oct 03, 02:01:00 PM, Blogger KentF said…

    And let me assume you hate:
    apple pie
    Joel Osteen
    Joel Osteen's wife as she is taken off a plane kicking and screaming.

    Ok seriously - I agree totally - are we looking for Jesus or a Hollywood version of Him.

  • At Tue Oct 03, 04:55:00 PM, Anonymous Henry Paul Drinkard said…

    Lou Dobbs has hit upon a great idea: Tax the churches! Check out this link...


  • At Wed Oct 04, 08:12:00 AM, Blogger Lauren said…

    Great review, Deana. I really like what you had to say. I think you're right...Christ didn't promise us a problem free life, in fact, he told us that we would be persecuted because of our faith! I think the idea of this movie is a good one, but that's just what it is, an idea. Thanks for your insight.

  • At Wed Oct 04, 08:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When I was pregnant and there were serious problems, a man at church (whom I did not have a relationship with) told me he KNEW everything would be alright. He was sure of it! He never expressed sympathy or an explaination of how he got it so wrong when my baby died. That comment cut very deeply. I think we must weigh our confidence in God's ability to change things with whether that is God's will or not.


  • At Wed Oct 04, 09:39:00 PM, Blogger Chris Benjamin said…

    "POOF!* No more problems! See why you should be a Christian?"

    Gee Deana, I thought that was the whole message of Revelation. Aww, now you broke my theology.


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