Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Gospel, Courageous, and Facing the Giants

I’ve been watching Christian movies lately.  I’m waiting for God’s Not Dead to come out on Netflix, so, until then, I will satisfy my hunger for Christian movies by watching other Christian movies.  Here are three that I recently saw:

1.  The Gospel.

This movie came out in 2005.  I was intrigued when I first saw the trailer.  One reason was that I saw that the actress who played Rudy Huxtable in The Cosby Show was in it, and I often wonder what happened to actors and actresses who played in the sitcoms of the past.  Another reason was that the movie seemed to be about people losing their spiritual way in the church, amidst the trappings of religion, and finding their way to an authentic spirituality.

The music in the movie was fantastic, let me tell you!  I ordinarily am not a fan of Gospel music, preferring Contemporary Christian Music instead.  But the music in The Gospel was very powerful!

The plot was all right, I guess.  A guy leaves the church, becomes a big-time music star, and returns to the church of his youth, where the new pastor, his childhood rival, is building a personality cult around himself, all in the name of God and his vision for the church.  That was interesting to watch, but, overall, the plot did not grab me that much.

2.  Courageous.

This movie came out in 2011.  It is about four police officers, and a Hispanic friend named Javier, who resolve to be Christian men of integrity.  Javier was my favorite character.  He loses his job, cries out to God, and then someone he doesn’t even know calls his name and gives him tools for a project to work on.  It turned out that this guy was expecting another Javier.  Good thing the Javier who needed work showed up!

I liked this movie because it was about leadership, and, by that, I don’t mean telling others what to do, but rather working on yourself (with the help of God and others) and leading by example.  In this movie, the characters experience challenges even to the end.  One of them passes the test of his character, while another does not.  The plot was meandering at times, but I still enjoyed spending time with the characters.

3.  Facing the Giants.

This movie came out in 2006.  It was made by the same gentlemen who made Courageous, the Kendrick brothers.  Alex Kendrick, who played in Courageous, also played in this movie.  It is about a high school football coach who initially has problems: his car does not consistently work, his team is consistently losing, people want to replace him with a new coach, and he cannot give his wife a child.  The coach then dedicates himself to God and encourages his team to live for God’s glory, and things go pretty smoothly then.

The first half of the movie was fantastic.  I liked seeing how the coach inspired his team to become winners when they saw themselves as losers.  While I was surprised that nobody complained that a coach in a public school was teaching his players Christianity (I doubt that’s even legal), I thought that he imparted a lot of wisdom, about cleaning up one’s own side of the street, for instance.  In one scene, the coach tells a player that he cannot make him believe in Jesus, for this is the player’s own decision, but that he hopes that the player will come to see how much Jesus loves him.  Another character, a puny soccer player who joined the football team and struggles to kick the football over the goal-post (I think that’s the right term), asks his Christian father why God made him so weak, and his father responds that it’s so God can show God’s strength through him.

The second half of the movie, however, was not so good.  While the main characters did experience challenges, on some level, things were going very smoothly for them overall once they got on track.  I felt like I was eating too much ice cream.  The reason that I like the other Kendrick brothers’ movies that I saw (Courageous and Fireproof) is that, on them, events do not necessarily go smoothly after the protagonists make a Christian commitment, but the protagonists know how to handle the events better, for they have been changed and now walk in wisdom.  If only I saw more of that in Facing the Giants!

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