Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Seven Pounds and grace

How about a movie about a man who makes great sacrifices to help those in need. I mean huge sacrifices. And he makes these sacrifices to atone for one mistake that he made--a mistake that had horrible consequences. This is the story in Seven Pounds, a new movie in theaters now, starring Will Smith.

This film may be worth seeing if only as a conversation starter to talk about things like redemption and sacrifice. I wish I could say more but, as one reviewer said, the less you know going in, the better with this movie. I will, however, point out one major flaw in the philosophy revealed in this story--at least from a Christian perspective.

Early in the movie, Ben (Will Smith's character) goes about evaluating a limited number of people that he is able to help in a significant way. He wishes to make his sacrifices for those who are deserving according to his standards. At one point he angrily refuses to assist a nursing home administrator after he finds out the terrible way that the administrator treats the residents.

Ben's approach seems pretty logical. Most of us, if we are going to make significant sacrifices for a few people, would want to help good people. The problem with this thinking from a Christian perspective is that Jesus died for that sleazy nursing home administrator too. According to 1 Tim 1:15 Christ's great sacrifice was for the worst of sinners. According to Romans 5:6 Jesus died for the ungodly.

The sacrifice that is the pattern for Christ-like living was made for those who were and are undeserving. This is what grace is all about.

But you see. even with this philosophical weakness Seven Pounds has now given me an opportunity to highlight the nature of Christian sacrifice, which, again, is why this movie may be worth seeing. There are a slew of conversations that Ben's sin and his sacrifices could spawn.