Friday, January 8, 2010

Our God is Personal

The film Evan Almighty has been replaying over and over on TV recently. My boys and I have watched pretty much all of it again over the course of the last couple of weeks. The other night, Joe and I were watching the climactic flood scene again. I like it, because much like the actual Noah’s ark narrative, I get a picture of the Gospel – people being saved by entering into the Ark. My kids like it of course because it’s dramatic and there are tigers and camels and monkeys and all sorts of cool animals!

I changed the channel at the end, right before Evan goes to have his final conversation with God under a tree. “God” is played by Morgan Freeman.

Joe immediately exclaimed “turn it back dad! Turn it back!”

So, I did! I had no idea, he wanted to see that part.

“That’s God.” Joe said to me. He watched the scene, which he’d apparently already seen before with intrigue. He was intent and engaged.
“Well,” I said, “that’s an actor buddy –He’s not really God right?

“Yeah.” He said. His tone indicating a “whatever.”

He’s only 3, and he’s still trying to figure out exactly how this whole God thing works. And actually, he’s still trying to figure out how movies work! I observed that he was attracted to the character of ‘God’, so I didn’t feel the need to try and clear up all the confusion. I just let it go.

It all reminded me of the time a couple of years ago, when I ended up watching that movie with a different relative. He’s a guy who historically has been very, very antagonistic about God. He’s even acted out fairly belligerently when the topic of God, or even church came up. He can get pretty angry, and he’s expressed his opinion that the Christian conception of God is totally stupid and even offensive.

So we ended up watching Evan Almighty together, and he liked it. And I remember him saying specifically “I really liked Morgan Freeman as God, he was really good.”

That was surprising to me, because again, this guy really never says anything where “like” and “God” are in the same sentence! Now, I’m fully aware that the theology in that movie is far from accurate in many ways, but this is what I thought when he said that.

The truth is, God is probably a lot more like Morgan Freeman in that movie than he is like the god formed in many people’s warped, misinformed and cynical misconceptions.

In the movie, Morgan Freeman’s ‘God’ is powerful, and wise and good. He demonstrates a certain omnipresence and sovereignty. He is also tender, caring and funny! Above all, he’s personal!

And that’s real! The truth is that the God of the Bible is an intensely personal God!

I think that ending scene of the movie is a beautiful one. (Aside of course, from the Christ-less theologizing about the ultimate meaning of the Ark of course.) In it, God dances with Evan, and talks with him as a friend. It’s incredible! The idea that, the all powerful God of the Universe would talk as a friend, to man.

That’s true, and that’s Christian. And, I think that’s why Joe asked me to flip the channel back!

C.S. Lewis talks about our Personal God in Mere Christianity (pg 160)
A good many people nowadays say, ‘I believe in a God, but not in a personal God.’ They feel that the mysterious something which is behind all other things must be more than a person. Now the Christians quite agree. But the Christians are the only people who offer any idea of what a being that is beyond personality could be like. All the other people, though they say that God is beyond personality, really think of Him as something impersonal: that is, as something less than personal. If you are looking for something super-personal, something more than a person, then it is not a question of choosing between the Christian idea and the other ideas. The Christian idea is the only one on the market.

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