I took my very-soon-to-be-teenage daughter to God’s Not Dead last night. Is it a perfect film? Of course not. (Calvin Moore has a good take on some of the movie’s weaknesses here.) But the bottom line is that I’m glad we went. It was a good reminder of some important truths and an encouragement to be a brighter light in a dark world. Here are 7 things the movie gets right.
1. It’s tough (and getting tougher) for Christians to be vocal about our relationship with Jesus, but that is exactly what God wants from us. One of the main themes of the movie is Matthew 10:32-33: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” It’s a worthy point to keep in mind.
2. Following Jesus requires sacrifice. Characters in the movie lose relationships and jobs over their faith, and that is exactly what Jesus said would happen. In the very next verses from Matthew 10, we read: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
3. The evidence for the truth of Christianity can be found in many places, including science, philosophy, and day to day personal experience. One of the strongest parts of God’s Not Dead is the way the screenplay shows the interplay between the various ways we know that God is real and Christianity is true. On one hand the main character presents solid classroom arguments for theism from a variety of disciplines, including cosmology, paleontology, and logic. On the other hand, one of the main subplots in the film revolves around a local pastor who is being providentially guided to be in just the right place at just the right time in order to help just the right people by way of otherwise sound cars that suddenly wouldn’t start. I loved this part of the story because, as mundane as it seems, God does use vehicle starters to accomplish his purpose and these types of divine activity have a profoundly faith-strengthening effect. Personal providence combines with intellectual arguments to provide a strong case for the truth of the Christian worldview, and the film balances both beautifully.
4. Personal peace and prosperity can insulate people from God. One storyline involved a cruel businessman who didn’t feel like he needed God. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say I thought his interaction with his mother near the end of the film was worth the price of admission.
5. Pain and suffering can work to both draw people toward Jesus and keep them from him. Again, I thought the film dramatized both sides of this truth. One character reaches out to God only after tragedy strikes, while another throws up a wall between himself and God in basically the same circumstances.
6. Many people are empty and lonely and would respond well to the gospel, if only someone would be bold enough to share it with them.
7. God is good, all the time.