Did you ever lose your faith?
Yes, you did, if you are older than six.
When I was a boy, I remember some other children who were told that Santa Claus was not real. I stayed out of that violent argument, but I saw their confusion and outrage. As we get older, people disappoint us, and if we are honest, we can disappoint ourselves.
I formed a career goal when I was about twelve, and I saw myself as one of those people, just working on an education and waiting for an opportunity. I knew who I was, and my conviction was unshakable. Near the age of forty, I had to tell myself that it would never happen, and I had to keep the job I already had.
I lost my faith.
You are probably wondering; I saw myself as an archaeologist, like the ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and I thought of it first, before they made that movie. After reading all those books, and studying in so many university courses, it never happened.
I saw a movie recently, and someone asked me why I was so agitated while I watched it. I had to think about that. The movie is “Come Sunday” and it’s about a very successful preacher in a mega church, who loses his faith, and his job, and becomes something different.
The movie is from 2018 and I don’t know if it was a commercial success. It is well-made, and it can provoke us to think, but something bothered me.
We can all change, and lose what we have, at any time. We should see this coming.
So, here is what bothered me:
We should hear the silent message, and see the invisible persuasion: Do you remember the old cowboy movies? The good guys and the bad guys were as different as night and day. We didn’t have to study anything to know that; we had memes to inform us.
The bad guys had mean angry faces, and words, and most importantly, they wore black hats. The good guys were the opposite, and we believed quickly and easily. That way, the movie could be over in an hour and a half. I could never make popcorn last longer than that.
Hollywood entertainment gives us moral shorthand that does not require deep thinking.
The silent and invisible message of “Come Sunday” is ‘Pentecostal – bad / Unitarian – good’. We don’t have to think deeply.
That is dangerous: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.”” (Haggai 1: 7)
We should go alone and not drag others with us: The movie pastor was a leader to thousands of people, for many years. Suddenly, he changed his message, and told his listeners to follow him in a new direction. He missed the point that they all had their own lives to live.
If we change, we should accept that we might be alone, and we might be lonely. Conviction has a cost.
Be the one: “And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22: 17)
We should guard our mental health: What was the last conversation you had with your invisible friend? I don’t mean praying, but questions and answers with an audible voice. I don’t want to judge, but you should be careful, and probably talk to some good friends before you go public.
The movie pastor had a conversation with someone, or something, and then he radically changed his life. He blew it all up, and everything he had before became wrong.
He was under stress when this happened.
If we hear a voice, we could find the source before we blow up our lives: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
We should be human and let God be God: The movie pastor seemed to keep the church habit, when he no longer believed. Without criticizing liberal Christianity, where I live, those churches are not large because people don’t have enough reasons to go every Sunday.
If we lose God, we have taken out the batteries, and the rituals don’t make much sense.
We need our spiritual batteries: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63: 1)
So, that’s what bothers me. I see that movie as really bad advice. Change is coming: maybe from a decision, or a visit to a doctor, or a pink slip at work, or just getting older. Life is not stable, and we should all brace ourselves.
Hollywood gets it wrong sometimes.
These two people probably look different already: