… and other lessons learned from the movie God’s Not Dead.
I have always talked for my dogs. I think I got it from my grandmother. Her poodle used to race into the backyard and snap at the blue jays. She’d stand at the kitchen window and talk for him, threatening the birds to get out of his yard before he tore them up.
I’ve never had to get snarly for my dogs, though. My sweet Marcie – a beagle that we had to put down a few weeks ago – had one thought: food. She was the easiest to read because that’s all she wanted.
In fact, during lunch many years ago, I slipped out one-liner after one-liner on her behalf. And she cooperated perfectly, eyes trained on the sandwich in my red head’s hand. The kids were in hysterics until one of the twins spouted, “Oh, Marcie, you’re so funny.” I stood and took a bow.
My lab-mix isn’t quite as predictable. His one thought is play, but the minute I start talking for him, he’ll veer into another activity and blow my cleverness. Like he can understand what I’m saying and is just contrary enough to prove my comments wrong.
I used to speak for my kids, too. Before they could talk for themselves. That got old fast when they started correcting me. And every once in a while, I’ll make assumptions and put words in their mouths, nowadays. They tend to dislike that – quite eloquently, by the way.
But when it comes to speaking for God … I do not want to be guilty of a misquote. That’s why we have His Word, after all. That’s not to say that He doesn’t still speak through His servants. He does. But to claim knowledge not based on scripture is a risky thing.
And yet, that’s exactly what one of the characters in God’s Not Dead did. [Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen the movie.]
Cara, Josh’s girlfriend gives Josh an ultimatum. Something along the lines of choosing the most important person in his life, her or his professor. Josh responds that God is his answer. To which, she responds, “Well. God wants you with me, so it’s the same answer.”
Yikes. Three BIG things wrong with that!
1. Personal Agenda
Cara wanted Josh to give up his attempt to prove God is alive. That’s her goal. Her focus.
It’s easy to see on a movie screen, but a personal agenda can be an quick recipe to stir up without even realizing it. A stiff neck tends to make one spiritually blind. In Cara’s case, she had good motives: protect Josh from blowing his grade-point, protect her own reputation, restore her plan for their lives.
And a personal agenda can be made of good things: propelling a ministry, providing for a need, building a good reputation. It can even be political or have connections to important issues like the sanctity of marriage or pro-life.
But anything that puts your will over God’s is a personal agenda that needs to be squashed.
Cara twisted the conversation so that her will was magnified into God’s will.
“God wants you with me.” Oh, yes. Of course. Second Sampson 3:20, right? Delilah’s quote? As Cara gave her little reply, I swear Robbie the Robot from the old TV show “Lost in Space” rolled across the bottom of the screen. Flailing his saggy arms, he yelled, “Warning. Warning. Warning.”
If you saw the movie, I bet you were with me wishing Josh would stop looking around and stand up to the would-be puppet-master at that point, but no. Instead, he lets her reveal the fullness of her problem.
See, Cara had nice-looking motives, but this was really all about her. She had made a plan for their lives. She had followed him to her third choice school. She forbid (yes, she actually said forbid!) him to continue trying to prove God is alive.
What I said before about stiff neck truly applies here. She was so focused on herself, so sure she was righteous, that she didn’t consider the possibility that she might have been wrong.
(Fine with me. I was urging Josh to run away!)
But her problem leaves me with a quandary. Am I guilty of the same sin? The spiritual blindness associated with a stiff neck? Is my pride and some personal agenda blocking my view of God’s will? His truth? I’ve seen it happen before. To godly servants of the Lord. And I’ve been guilty of such myself.
Your turn: What about you? Have you been through a time when conflict arose and you were certain you were correct in your “side?” Maybe you’re going through that now. Are you willing to consider that you are mistaken?