I went to see the movie Letters To God with my wife the other day, and it demonstrated to me what the basic Christian message is, that the world can be hard and cruel, but with God in those trying times we can live joyfully.
Spoiler Alert! This paragraph gives key details about the movie. If you want to be surprised by the movie you should read this after seeing the movie. The movie is the apparently true story of a young boy dying of cancer. What makes him unique is that he regularly writes letters to God and puts them in the mail. The boy has a single parent, his mom, and an older brother, who handles it pretty well at times and feels neglected at others. There is a grandmother who frequently helps. A substitute mail carrier, Brady, gets involved. Brady has been making irresponsible decisions because of the bottle and this has forced his ex-wife to take full custody of their son. He becomes involved in the boy’s life, and as the boy nears death he reads the letters which are really prayers and they inspire him. He gives some of the letters to people who are being prayed for in the letters. Brady has a major transformation, changing his life around as well as others have transforming experiences of various degrees. Many in the whole community are inspired to pray and get closer to God by the letters and the young man’s life. The movie is truly inspiring and there were quite a few tears around the theater,
(If you go to the theater be prepared that while the story is inspiring and touching the acting is somewhat overdone as well as some of the production values were less than stellar. This is not an Academy award-winning production, but this is an inspiring Christian story.)
My point, though, is that the story exemplifies basic Christianity in a format similar to the gospels. The underlying story is that man is put in a world with sin, sickness, death, and evil forces conspiring to rob him of both the quality of life and life itself. The answer is that we need a power greater than ourselves and the forces against us to overcome. God provided this power by sending his son Jesus Christ. As we follow his ways, praying to him daily for strength and deliverance we can see a wonderful life. This wonderful life is built around a personal relationship with God by prayer and discipleship to the basic things God wants us to do, and is strengthened in the company of other believers living to do the same. All of this is presented in the endearing story of young man’s life as he is dying of cancer.
Like the gospels, the movie did not get into all of the divisive issues that complicate many from this basic Christian message. There was no focus on the method of baptism, the meaning of communion, the type of church rule, which manifestations of the spirit are allowed in our day and time, or how the end time events are going to work out. There was no “Christology”, “Eschatology”, or” hermeneutics”.
Just like the stories in the gospels Letters to God teaches basic Christian principles in story form. Once again this movie showed me, like many other movies, Christian media, songs, stories, and so forth, that the real powerful Christian message is so much simpler than all of the divisive theologies that fragment the Christian faith. There is a lesson in here for all of us.
©copyright 2010 Mark W. Smith, all rights reserved.