By Brad Murphy, Lead Pastor Eagle LifeChurch
This past weekend, Lori and I rented the movie Courageous from the colored box at the convenience store (in Washington state it was only $1, in Idaho $1.20. I guess red plastic costs more here.) I had heard it was a good movie, but I wasn’t prepared for the weight of the story or the way it would affect me. There were several things that made me happy I had spent the $1.20.
God has been teaching me some important lessons during these first few weeks of being a Lead Pastor. This movie reinforced one of those lessons.
Courageous wasn’t afraid to explore the struggles that intertwine and complicate real life: divorce, unplanned pregnancy, difficult family move, career change, unemployment, death of a loved one, etc… As the story unfolded, I found myself thinking, “This is real life.” I know a lot of people go to movies to get away from real life – this is why fantasy and animation are so wildly popular – but, this movie wasn’t only entertaining, it encouraged me to face real life from a new perspective. The characters struggled to understand themselves. They wrestled in real relationships and suffered real consequences. Their story wasn’t created to justify a way of life, this story exemplified real life.
As the stories of the characters’ lives unfolded I learned something about myself and my journey. I was ready to take action in my own family, in my own community of faith, and in my own city.
Why was this movie so powerful? What made it so meaningful? I think the power in this movie was that the writers understood the lesson that I’ve been learning. As Christ’s follower I have to understand where my faith and my life connect, where the story of God and my life circumstances collide. I have to connect Church things to Life things in order to be effective in helping God on His mission. There can’t be sacred and secular, all things are God’s, all things are sacred.
This is exactly what Courageous did. The story modeled how life should and must be lived in the context of faith. The characters developed their courage to face the difficulties of life in the context of a community of faith – a place where God’s Word and real life coincided. God is not interested in churches that ask people to leave their real problems and real struggles outside. He’s interested in a community of faith that will connect life and church, a place where the drama of the heart and the aching of life are explored and people are encouraged to face challenges from a new perspective.
Where does the courage to teach these kinds of lessons come from? From where does the content of the teaching originate? This teaching is from God’s Word and the courage is from His Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul instructs his protégé Timothy,
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2, NIV 1984)
Jesus instructed his followers,
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV)
This is one reason why I love the name of our church, Eagle LifeChurch. It may seem kind of silly that LifeChurch is one word, but that imagery stands tall in my mind. Imagine a church where people who are facing real life challenges can come and be encouraged with great patience and careful instruction. Imagine a congregation that has the courage to connect Life and Church. Imagine a community of faith that will “Preach the Word” full of power from the Holy Spirit. I suspect that like me, those who came to a place like this would be ready to take action in their families, in their city, and to the ends of the earth.