Sunday, January 21, 2007

Simon Says

One of my favorite faith-filled movies is Simon Birch...the story of a young boy with a heart of God and the faith of a man several decades older than he is. Simon has a heart problem that hinders his growth and threatens his life. This movie takes a deeper look at faith and challenges some of the things that tend to get in the way of our faith. Among the thought provoking ideas this movie raises are the following:

--God has a plan for your life.

Now, when I was in seminary this statement caused problems. One of my professors said that this is a very risky statement because what if your life takes a terrible turn for the worse? Did God will that to happen? But, the way I view this statement is that ultimately God wants the best for each of us in our lives. Just like a parent, God wishes nothing but the best for us. Now, just like children, it doesn't mean that we'll always fulfill what God desires but still the same God wishes us the best.

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Another issue that Simon raises in this movie is a question of priorities. One day in church the pastor is inviting everyone to join him and his family for donuts and coffee after the service.

--And Simon asks, "What do coffee and donuts have to do with God?"

Sometimes we get so tied up in what we think is important I wonder if those same things are important to God. Are we more concerned about preparing the donuts and coffee than we are about preparing our hearts to worship God? Are we more interested in getting together and visiting with each other after the service than we are to talk to God in prayer? Where are our priorities centered? On ourselves or on God?

--As Simon continues, "I don't think God is concerned whether or not we have a continental breakfast at church. We're in trouble if God has made the church bake sale a priority."

Another idea this movie raises is the fact that we all worship differently...Simon gets in trouble for disrupting the service with his continetial breakfast statement. During Sunday school he is stuck in the corner while his teacher reprimands him in front of the class. She asks what he's doing and he says something like I'm praying. When she asked how he could do that in a chair in the corner, Simon says,

--Faith is not in a floor plan.

One thing that I think all of us forget from time to time is that we worship God in different ways. Some need to be in a sanctuary surrounded by pews, stained glass windows and the sound of a pipe organ. Some people love to worship to the sounds of a rock band with images displayed on the screen in the worship space. Some worship God in the quiet of the outdoors where God's creation surrounds them on all sides. Some like to worship God by serving others and sitting with those in need as they together hear God's word for them that day.

Simon Birch, it's a GREAT movie that raises many different faith issues. If you've not seen it, I encourage you to check it out's a moving, funny and at times sad movie that gets two thumbs up from me.