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Three lessons from three films

By Megan

I love a good movie. I love what we can learn from films about ourselves, about human nature and about God (It’s the geeky English Lit graduate in me). So here are three films I’ve watched recently, and three lessons that I learned from them.

WARNING! This article contains spoilers.

1. Seven Pounds

This film was a disappointment to me, not because I didn’t love it, but because I picked it hoping for a feel good film along the lines of other Will Smith deep and meaningful’s like Pursuit of Happiness (one of my all-time favs). Seven Pounds is a beautifully sad film about grief, guilt, love and redemption. Ben is driven by the guilt of causing a road accident to donate his body parts to save other’s lives, even to the point of taking his life.

Each person he donates to is carefully selected to make sure that they are a good person who deserves to live. Humanly speaking that makes sense. If you’re going to sacrifice your life to save the lives of others, you do it for people who deserve it.

But ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8 ). Jesus died for us while we were still far, far off, so that he could draw us close. And that is truly beautiful.

True hope is life giving. True hope is not fragile but ‘strong and trustworthy’, a ‘good thing. Maybe even the best thing. And a good thing never dies.’

2. Shawshank Redemption

I know, it’s an old one, but somehow I’ve avoided it until now. Andy is convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and sent to Shawshank Prison where he has some horrific experiences. But he doesn’t let it beat him. He keeps hoping, making the best of what he’s got, and dreaming of freedom. He is told that ‘hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane’, but Andy decides that ‘it comes down to a simple choice. Get busy living or get busy dying.’

Hope can be a fragile, risky thing, but that depends on what you put your trust in. Hebrews 6:18-19 tells us that ‘we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.’ Jesus came that we ‘may have life and have it to the full.’ But if we refuse to hope then we are giving fear the controls and ‘getting busy dying’.

True hope is life giving. True hope is not fragile but ‘strong and trustworthy’, a ‘good thing. Maybe even the best thing. And a good thing never dies.’

3. The Railway Man

Based on a true story, Eric Lomax, a former British army officer, is tormented by memories of his experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war. After being told by a friend that the man who tortured him, Nagase, is still alive, he takes the opportunity to confront the past in the hope that he will have ‘justice’ and be able to move on.

It’s implied that Lomax intends to kill, or at least torture, his tormentor in order to get justice. However Lomax is confronted by Nagase’s humanity. Instead of the monster of his memory, he finds a man who was also broken by what they both experienced and has spent his life trying to atone for his actions.

So often in films the ‘bad guys’ are uncompromisingly bad, the only satisfying conclusion is for them to ‘get what they deserve’. This is an attitude which permeates our society. But the Bible calls us to love our enemies. That’s tough enough when the closest thing we have to an enemy is just someone who really irritates us. But what about someone who has pretty much ruined our lives?

There’s nothing wrong with justice, God is just. But he is also merciful. It isn’t in the ‘justice’ of revenge that Lomax finds peace, but in mercy and grace of forgiveness. There’s a beautiful scene at the end of the film where Lomax holds Nagase while he weeps, and says: ‘While I cannot forget what happened…I assure you of my total forgiveness. Sometimes hating has to stop.’ Both men find peace and freedom from the past in an act of forgiveness.

So to round up…

God loves us absolutely and unconditionally. This means we can put our hope in God, who is an anchor we can depend on whatever the situation. Forgiveness is much better than revenge. God calls us to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us because he loves them absolutely and unconditionally too.

The Author
Megan used to work with us at Open Doors Youth, but she hasn't managed to get away completely! She loves being outside and loves having adventures! Megan's passionate about social justice, loves people and wants to learn how to love them better.

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