Today I’d like to refer to three movies.
1.Powder.パウダー [Image] A little known movie made in 1995 of a boy who is born during an electrical storm. During the birth, there is an electrical accident as a result of lightning and the mother dies but something mysterious happens to the baby boy. He is somehow ‘electric’. He grows up to be hairless and rather odd-looking. But he also grows up to be a genius, the likes of which may never have been seen before. As such, he has a difficult childhood. He looks odd, and he is so much smarter than anyone else.
Favourite scene: After test results return, “Son, do you understand how smart you are?”
[Image] It was a science teacher (Jeff Goldblum) who finally began to challenge Powder by ‘introducing him’ to Einstein and difficult scientific concepts. He embraced this. Yet he was never content and as life went on he became more and more unstable. Toward the end of the movie, the science teacher continued to try to challenge him but failed, in the end realising that:
What Powder had was extraordinary intelligence. What he did not have was love. And that made all the difference.[Image] The movie has a sad ending. Powder never found the love he was looking for, and this has tragic consequences.
It reminds me of a Salvation Army poster I once saw in Sydney. It had a picture of a sickly looking youth on it with the words, “Peter’s craving for love exceeds his craving for heroin.”
2. Good Will Hunting.グッド・ウィル・ハンティング [Image] This is a better known and more recent movie than Powder yet it follows a similar storyline. Matt Damon plays Will Hunting who is a genius squandering his life in street fights and with alcohol. [Image] He takes a janitor’s job at an elite university and gets kicks out of secretly solving complex mathematical problems that none of the other students can solve. In the end, he is ‘discovered’ and his extraordinary abilities are nurtured.
Favourite scene: [Image] Burning a never-before found proof for a complex mathematical problem and his award winning mentor on his knees begging him not to let it burn up.
Like Powder, Will had extraordinary brilliance and talent but he struggled badly in life because even though he had good friends and a caring girlfriend, he didn’t know love. The movie ends on a slightly brighter note than that of Powder [Image] and we are left with the understanding that a vital corner has been turned and Will is on his way to accepting himself and knowing love.
3. Forrest Gump.フォレスト・ガンプ [Image] This movie is like the first two but the other way around. Forrest is not a genius. In fact, Forrest is an idiot. But Forrest knows love.
There is an interesting dialogue throughout the movie between Forrest – who is frequently referred to as “stupid” – and his girlfriend-of-sorts Jenny – who is extremely bright and worldly-wise. [Image] At one point, Forrest says, “I love you, Jenny” to which she replies, “Forrest, you don’t know what love is.” It’s a deeply ironic conversation between the wise and the foolish and leaves us wondering which of them really is wise and which really is the fool. In fact later in the movie, [Image] Forrest says to Jenny in a famous line, “I’m not a smart man but I know what love is.”
The one thing that each of these movies illustrates is that we can know and experience everything but if we don’t know and experience love, then we have nothing.
This is equally true for the Christian community. We can know our Bibles back to front, we can attend church twice a week and we can serve the poor all day and night but if we don’t have love, it counts for nothing. Not slightly diminished; not still a little of value: it counts for nothing.
1 Cor 13:1-3
If I speak in the tonguesof men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
There’s an important distinction to make here when we talk about love. There’s human love. This is good. However dim or lacking, it’s a reflection of God’s love. But whatever love we have for one another, it is minuscule compared to the love that God has for us (and so we model our love on God’s).
In fact God’s love is frequently referred to as “unfailing love”.
Ps 33:5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Ps 13:5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
The apostle John explains the effect of such unfailing love in our lives:
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
No fear that God might somehow be inadequate for our needs or desires.
No fear that God’s love will means a string of inconvenient do’s and don’t’s.
No fear that No fear that God will condemn us.
The gospel message is not a message of condemnation. It is a desperate message of love from a grieving, reaching God to a defiant, rebellious world which is on the skids.
The good news is, you don’t need to be a genius to know the love of God – it’s on offer to the brilliant and the simple alike. There’s something about the love of God that is understandable and attractive and fascinating to kids like little Emi and adults like Isaac Newton and C.S. Lewis. That’s because knowing and receiving God’s love depends on the heart, not on the head.
A lot of people miss the love of God by about 40 cms. They get the gospel in their head but it misses the heart. (It can work the other way, too.)
I want to encourage you today to open both your mind and your heart to the unfailing love of God so that you can not only know this love but experience it for yourself. Because the love of God is not merely a pleasant concept to dwell on but it is a Holy Spirit fullness – a reality – that brings unspeakable joy and tangible blessing into our lives.