I posted the following sentences on my social media accounts as I was thinking about the reaction of some to the recent release of the move Noah:
Sometimes the Church gets upset over the least important things. This is a good time to review what upset Jesus and follow His example.
Jesus got upset over moneychangers in the Temple. He wouldn’t tolerate the religious garbage the Pharisees laid on people. He corrected his own disciples when they tried to keep people in need away from him. It seems Jesus’ list of things to get upset over were lists that applied to his followers or those who declared that they spoke for God. I don’t recall him correcting much else in the culture of his day.
I posted my thoughts on my social media accounts because some of my brothers and sisters in Christ are upset about the movie, Noah. I haven’t seen it yet because my wife and I want to go when the crowds die down. I read once that John Stott, the great British theologian, would go to a movie with a purpose in mind. He would go to the movie, lean forward in his chair and study what was being said. Stott did this because he was trying to learn the language of culture so he could lovingly engage them in meaningful dialogue once he left the theater.
I am almost halfway into my fourth decade of being a pastor. Like most people my age, I have seen a lot of things come and go. The movie, Noah, will come and go. What will remain are the memories of the theological gymnastics of the Church. These visual and verbal responses of disgust are what our culture will see that speaks to them of our value system.
People in our communities see the angry Facebook posts. They see prominent Christian leaders and others wringing their hands in disgust that a movie took creative license. What we begin to resemble is Peter who was trying to defend Jesus at the time of his arrest. When something like the movie Noah comes out we mount up our collective disgust and attack our cultural Malchus, miss his head and lop off his ear.
“Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” John 18:10-11
John didn’t tell us the rest of the story - Luke did.
“But Jesus said, ‘No more of this.’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” Luke 22:51
The culture was never supposed to be bloodied at the hand of the Church. We are healers and hope-speakers. We want them to have both ears intact so they can actually hear things that matter like, “You are forgiven.” “God loves you.” “You have a destiny and purpose.”
Paul gave the church in Corinth some wise advice that sounded a lot like what Jesus would say. Paul said, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders.” I Corinthians 5:12a
When Jan and I go see Noah we are going for entertainment, just like many others in the theater who may not yet know God’s love. Sometimes we think the people in our cities are not smart enough to realize these are just movies, not a commentary on the Bible.
Regarding the movie Noah, I will go, lean forward in my chair and try to find something I can use to engage my culture. When I leave the theater I am also going to invite Jesus to come and heal the people in my community who have had their ears lopped off by the Church.