Movies speak to me. They have since I was a kid. It’s really just stories in general, but being a visual thinker, movies and television have always had a huge impact on me. In fact, when I write my own stories, I’m generally just trying to describe the pictures playing out in my head. So it’s no longer a surprise to me when I receive revelation while watching a movie.
Even one as stupid as Talladega Nights.
Don’t get me wrong, I laughed my hiney off watching this movie tonight. I needed to laugh. It’s been a rough few days for me. I try extra hard not to be, but I’m a very dramatic llama sometimes. And as the meme says, “sumbody dun brokt” me. Or rather a small army of “sumbodies”.
I’ve been experiencing different forms of rejection from people I love for a while now. And, even though I need to build a bridge and get over it (thank you Hannah Montana), it still hits me where it hurts and makes me eyes choke out tears.
Tonight, watching Ricky Bobby pray to “baby Jesus” over and over again did my heart a giant world of good. If I can do it somewhat succinctly, I want to try to explain why.
Without going into too much detail (or any really), let’s just say that some people don’t agree with some things I believe and I don’t agree with some things they believe. I think that pretty much sums up all arguments, ever, over all of time. But you get the idea.
The real problem (at least for me) is that I worry that what I believe affects my relationship with God. I really want to follow Jesus. I want to be one of the scruffy, common, uneducated disciples traipsing around the desert with Jesus, breaking all the rules and changing the world. I live in fear of being a Pharisee, thinking myself righteous and holy while in actuality living a life of selfishness and pride. I live in fear of being so self-deluded that I believe I walk among the righteous, when in fact I am walking straight into the gaping maw of Hell.
But this is flawed thinking.
This kind of thinking is changing the beautiful words of Jesus from:
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if your theology is perfect and you have interpreted my words precisely.
How often I have quoted John 13:35! I love this beautiful verse. I have tried to live by it. But I fail. Oh how I fail! I stop measuring my discipleship by love and start measuring it by my theological prowess. And let’s be honest, I don’t have much TP (theological prowess) to begin with.
I’m not the only one. A lot of us measure our worth as disciples by our understanding of scripture and how well we follow the “rules” as we understand them. We read our bibles, devotionals, listen to sermons, read books to further our understanding of the “rules” God has “set out” in His word. We each develop a new set of commandments that we live by based on what we have learned over the years.
And then we become deeply devoted to these commandments. So devoted that we begin to fear for our loved ones who don’t adhere to these commandments. Even if our loved ones are doing their very best to follow Jesus in the only ways they know how. Even if our loved ones are as deeply in love with Jesus and committed to Him as we are, just doing things differently. We’re afraid that loving Jesus and desperately trying to follow him isn’t enough. Because, as we established above, we’ve changed the definition of disciple unwittingly from love to knowledge.
I’m not saying all this because I’m judging the people who’ve hurt me. I’m saying all this from my own personal experience. I’ve done all of this. I’ve changed the meaning of discipleship from love to knowledge. I’ve been afraid that loving Jesus and trying to follow him isn’t enough. I’ve made my own set of commandments and judged others for not living by them. Over and over and over and over and over…
As I grow and change and evolve, so too do my “commandments”. They must change because my understanding of scripture has changed, my vision of Jesus and God has changed, so my commandments must change too. And the cycle begins all over again as I judge others by my new set of rules.
Ugh. I’m getting tired just thinking about it. It’s so terribly boring and pharisaical.
And that’s it right there.
Watching Ricky Bobby pray his ridiculous and completely hysterical prayers tonight, I realized that we’re all just trying to follow God the only way we know how, well those of us who are trying to follow Him anyway.
And I realized what a hypocrite I am, what a Pharisee.
What I realized is that anyone can be a Pharisee – conservative or liberal. A Pharisee is just someone who believes that perfect adherence to a set of rules makes you holy and righteous and definitely holier than those who don’t perfectly adhere to those rules. The rules actually aren’t the important part, it’s how well you adhere to them that matters.
Dang. Mind explosions.
I was a big, weepy mess before we watched Talladega Nights. I honestly didn’t think it would cheer me up. The world was completely ending. (I’m a dramatic llama, remember?) And I really didn’t expect to have a huge revelation that would lead me to shift my thinking in a major way. But it did.
Thanks, Ricky Bobby, for helping me to remember that we’re all just trying to follow Jesus in the best way we know how (those of us trying to follow Jesus anyway). NONE OF US WILL EVER GET IT PERFECTLY RIGHT. But if we are truly His disciples we will endeavor to love one another. That is how we will know we are His disciples, by our love for one another, not by our perfect execution of our interpretation of scripture.
People have hurt me, rejected me because we don’t necessarily believe the same things, but that’s ok. They’re just trying to follow Jesus the best way they know how. I can love them even if we don’t agree. I can love them even if they don’t love me. Well, I don’t know if I can but I know I can try.