Or, at least, I think Hollywood sometimes 'gets' Him better than I do...
This post is in response to one posted by our own intelligent, intellectual, and always insightful brother Keith Brenton over at Blog In My Own Eye. Several months ago, he asked "Does Hollywood 'Get' God (Better Than Evangelical Christianity Does)?" Go ahead, take a look at it; I promise, it's well worth it.
This evening, I went and saw Evan Almighty, the sequel to 2003's Bruce Almighty. This time, Morgan Freeman reappears as God, asking Evan to build an ark. Evan is to basically become a modern-day Noah. I'll try to tell you what I learned from this movie without giving it away; what it is that Hollywood seems to have a grasp on that I struggle with.
I seem to have two very different ideas of God. I think of God, the Father, as Keith described in the latter part of that post, "the kind of God people fall down in front of and beg for rocks to fall on them; the kind of God before whom people feel so unworthy to speak that they'd only feel cleansed by having their tongues cauterized by a burning coal."
Just read with me from Isaiah 6:1-5: "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.' At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.'"
That's kinda the idea I have when I think of Father God; a God who is holy and almighty; a God who is a "consuming fire" and who is to be approached with "reverence and awe." And He is all those things. I suppose I just focus more on those than anything else. I think less of "Father" and more of "God."
However, in thinking of Jesus, I get a very different picture. When I see Jesus, I see Someone who "didn't consider equality with God something to be grasped." He gave up heaven to live here on the earth as a man; He lived a life of sacrifice and service to others; His life on this earth ended with His ultimate sacrifice for us. I see Jesus as someone who had compassion for everyone, took the time to meet their needs (both physical and spiritual), and took the time to teach them, by example what it means to be a servant.
For we read in John 13:3-5: "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him."
Yet, it's sometimes difficult to reconcile these two different ideas. Although Jesus and the Father are separate parts of the Trinity, they are also One. For Jesus is our Immanuel, our "God with us." He even told His apostles, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work."--John 14:9-10. The best combination of these two that I can come up with is the Holy Spirit. He is indeed 'Holy'; yet He is Christ's Spirit at work in us and in this world today.
The portrayal of God in these two movies is, in my opinion, an excellent combination of both of these ideas of God. We see a holy and almighty God who is willing to draw near to someone on an individual basis to teach them and bless them. In Evan Almighty, we see His holiness, perfectness, and infinite wisdom in contrast with our human nature, as Evan, standing before God (with bird poop on his suit, nonetheless) , tries to explain to God that he has his own worldly plans that he wants to focus on, rather than build an ark. Almighty God just laughs, I believe, at the ridiculousness of the moment.
Later in the film, God pays a brief visit to Evan's wife, without completely disclosing His identity. He shows up at dinner as a waiter, offers her a compassionate ear to listen to her (while miraculously refilling her dinner tray, nonetheless) and then shares with her some wisdom in dealing with her family situation. Almighty God is willing to meet a physical need and minister to this woman. And then He leaves, telling her that He has "alot more people to serve."
Through Morgan Freeman, Hollywood managed to show us an Almighty God who is here to serve. What a blessed thought!
This movie is a must-see.