When I was a kid and in school, I was a hard kid to teach because I rarely took what people told me to be true, unless they could answer my questions. And I questioned everything! In college, I was a philosophy minor. I loved discussing and arguing ideas, to sort out conventional thinking from true wisdom (as I saw it).
Even today, as a follower of Jesus, it bothers me when I hear other Christians use as the answer to almost everything, “because the Word of God says so.” I immediately want to ask “where does the Bible say that? Are there any other verses that give a different interpretation? Are the verses we’re both reading taken in context, or just quoted to justify an idea you already believe to be true?”
I also go on high alert whenever I hear someone quote a pastor who has a reputation for being on the edge. It’s a great temptation for a young pastor, to try to find a new meaning – to a long-held teaching of scripture, and then write a book about it, as if that validates the teaching.
I’m wary of pat answers or new interpretations. You should be very wary of them as well. So, here are three great questions to ask as you study the Bible.
Whether we like it or not, movies are shaping the worldview and values of our children, grandchildren and young Christians. We can either shake heads and throw up our hands in frustration, or use film to teach. A dozen times in my ministry, I’ve gathered young men together for pizza and a movie, and used films to teach.
While there are a growing number of quality Christian films being produced, most younger people are wary of them. And most of them are just painfully bad. So, I don’t use most “Christian” films. I’d prefer first quality, made in Hollywood films, or those few Christian films with great actors.
Jesus taught using parables. In fact, Matthew 13:34 says this, “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.” So, while movies today are a lot edgier than Jesus’ stories, the basic principle is the same. Let the story teach and the memory of the story, reinforce that teaching.
When I watch these films for teaching purposes, I will often have a brief discussion ahead of time with my group, so they’ll be watching for certain themes (See my blog last week for some general themes that run through many films). So, here are a couple of my favorite movies for teaching, and why I like them and a brief outline of these themes for each.
I’ve met with lots of men who find Jesus intriguing. But they’re often scared to death that by becoming a Christian, they’ll become wimpy and domesticated. So, I’ll often begin by telling them what follows, to assuage their fear.
Have you noticed that nearly all the great stories follow the same story line? Things were once good, then something awful happens and someone or something evil destroys the good life, a hero rises up, risk his or her life, destroys the villain, rescues the situation, sets things right again, good triumphing over evil and they all live happily ever after. Think about it! From our childhood fairy tales The Shawshank Redemption, Braveheart, LeMiserables, Titanic, Star Wars, Gladiator and Lord of the Rings, this story line holds true. Why do you think that is?
It’s because all of these stories borrow their power from the Grand Story woven into the fabric of our being. It’s the storyline of the Bible. It’s part of our spiritual DNA! Humans were created in the image of God and every person no matter how far they’ve wandered from God knows that something is terribly wrong with this world. We long for someone or something to rescue us from whatever, or whoever it is that frightens us, or holds us captive. And every man dreams of being the hero, rescuing others from injustice and evil and winning the respect of our peers. This is the story line of our dreams. It’s the storyline of what God wants for you as well!
Every man knows he’s hard-wired to live this adventure;
But first, he must be rescued!
About a year ago, I began meeting with a young businessman. This guy was bright, good looking, educated, very successful and he was spiritually lost. He just didn’t “get it!” (The gospel that is.) Perhaps you’ve had the same experience. The following are a few of my observations and my advice, if you truly want to understand what it takes to “break the code” of a person who has little interest in Jesus. Interspersed in this blog are specific ideas to overcome some of these barriers.