Do You Believe – Movie Discussion
I don’t know how a non-Christian would receive this movie, it’s overtly Christian…but as a Christian writing to other Christians, I can’t see how you could see this and not be moved. Bring some Kleenex! In a story much like Crash, you follow the various, intersecting lives of twelve individuals who are all impacted by the cross of Christ in one way or another. Christians are challenged to live more like Jesus, by giving love, support and aid to those in need. The receivers of this grace are in turn challenged to respond to the love of God as given to them by these various Christians. It’s Christianity, James-style, where faith is lived out and demonstrated through works.
In these movie discussions, I generally try to point out some way in which the story parallels or points to some aspect of the Bible. That seems unnecessary to do so in this case. There is nothing covert. It’s not a challenge to see how this movie fits in with the gospel because it’s the point of the movie itself, to show you how your life should better fit with the gospel of Christ. Do You Believe doesn’t need to be “unpacked.” A good discussion, however, might be beneficial. A time to think and talk with others about what it might mean for your life, about how you can do a better job of caring for others, about what needs are around you in your community…those kinds of discussions are the ones that are likely to (or probably should at least) come out of this movie. So…rather than launch into a discussion of various characters or plot lines (since they are self-explanatory if you see the movie), let me instead give you some questions to discuss, and challenge you to think about works…about what you might do in response, not only to the movie, but far more importantly, to the cross of Christ.
- Several people had to face dying. What was the difference between those who knew Jesus and those who did not? How did knowing Jesus change their response to death? How does it or might it change yours? How do you feel about dying?
- The man carrying the cross said, “You’ve got to deal with this cross, brother. You got to deal with it.” What did he mean? How did “dealing with the cross” change the pastor? How did it change his congregation? How might it change you?
- The man with the cross asked the pastor, “Do you believe in this cross?” The pastor replied, “I’m a pastor,” as if that answered the question, but the street preacher didn’t think it did. He pressed further, “You didn’t answer my question… You see, this cross is blood stained… What does it demand? … The question is, if you believe what you preach.” What do you think the cross demands? If you have grown up in church, does that mean you believe in the cross? How do you know if you really believe in it? The street preacher seemed to think that belief in the cross demanded action, that actions were the proof of belief. Do you think those two go hand in hand? What do you do with the following passages from James? How do you think they apply to the movie? How can you apply them to your own life?
- Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says…. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:22, 26-27)
- What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:14-19)
- When the pastor tried to help Maggie, the homeless, young, pregnant girl, she asked him, “What are you, some kind of freak?” Why do you think she assumed he was a freak? How hard is it to accept help from others? When someone offers help, are you suspicious of their motives? Has anyone that you have tried to help questioned you of your motives? How can you prove to someone you are sincere?
- Which character in the story impacted you most, and why?
- Which character in the story challenged you most, and why?
- The pastor said, “[The cross will] bring you to your knees, but also to your feet.” What does that mean?
- Several people are angry with God because they felt He failed them in their time of need. JD’s wife asked, “Where was God when our baby died?” Samantha wondered why God hadn’t taken care of them when her husband died and she and her daughter were left alone… How did the movie respond to their pain and questions? Have you ever felt like God failed you? Has anyone ever asked you a similar question? If so, how did you respond?
- Joe said to someone when circumstances seemed pretty bleak, “It’s not over yet. God has a way of making bad things good.” How did bad things become good in this movie? Do you know that the Bible makes the same kind of statement? Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Also, in Genesis 50:20, Joseph said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” The Bible is full of stories of how God makes bad things good. Do you know any examples of those stories? Do you have your own examples, from your life or people you know?
- The doctor was angry that people thanked God when they were healed, instead of thanking him. He felt he deserved the credit. How did that make you feel? Do you think he was right?
- The fireman got in trouble for sharing Jesus with a dying man. Have you ever gotten in trouble for your faith?
- Lacey and Carlos talked about what they would do differently if they were God. Lacey said, “If I was God…puppies would be puppies forever, and everybody would have someone and fathers wouldn’t abandon their kids…” Carlos said, “There would be no more war, no one killing anyone.” What would you do differently if you were God? Why do you think God, who is all wise, all knowing, perfect in love and justice, does things the way He does them?
- Pretty boy’s grandma told him, “You’ve got voices pulling you in all different directions, but there’s only one voice that matters.” Do you feel like you have a lot of different voices pulling you in different directions? How do you decide which voice matters? If you believe it’s God’s voice that matters, then how do you know when it’s His voice?
- There are several people that were hurting from loss (Jd and his wife who lost a daughter, the pastor and his wife who can’t have kids, etc.)—how did they find their own pain lessened through reaching out to someone else who was in need? How did God answer their prayers and/or fill the hole created by that loss in their heart when they allowed themselves to serve their fellow man?
- Lily felt like God was always looking out for them, but her mother felt like God had forgotten them. How can two people have the same experience but see it so completely differently? Who was happier? Who had the better perspective?
- Elena wanted her husband to apologize for his faith so he could keep his job and their financial security. “Think about the boys,” she said. He replied, “I am thinking about the boys, and about how I want them to behave when they become men.” He was more concerned with their character, she was more concerned with their security. Who do you think was right? Has your faith ever been “risky”? Has it ever cost your or you family anything? What was Elena’s response in the end? Why did her perspective change? (Hint: Elena told her husband she was “Praying. More like apologizing. I saw a miracle today. A real, live miracle. …As if the God who did that wouldn’t be there for us.”)
- The fireman said, “I was once asked if you were accused of being a Christian, would there be any evidence to convict you? I don’t know... But, if what I did was a crime, then I stand ready to be convicted.” If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
- Several people felt shame and that shame kept them isolated. It kept them from healing and loving on other people. Carlos said that he “couldn’t remember what it was like to feel anything but shame.” Then he said that because he cared about Lacey, he had to go. “That’s why I’ve got to go—I’m too broken.” When Maggie was dying, she said, “Tell me it’s not a lie. Tell me I’m going to see Jesus. I accepted him into my heart. Tell me He will accept me too.” She was afraid Jesus wouldn’t accept her because of her shame. Carlos was afraid others wouldn’t accept him (and he was afraid he would hurt those he cared about). In either case, shame isolates. How do 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love for perfect love casts out fear,” and Romans 8:1, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” apply to this idea of shame? According to those verses, should we feel shame? How did Joe and Pretty boy demonstrate people who largely free from shame because of the love of Jesus? Do you struggle with feeling shame? Why?
- The lawyer who had persecuted Bobby, the fireman, for sharing his faith with the dying man asked him (after he saved her life and pulled her from a burning car), “Why did you save me?” He replied by quoting Jesus, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Do you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you? If not, who are your enemies, and how could you love them? Who are your persecutors, and would you be willing to pray for them? What kind of a difference do you think that might make in your own heart if you did that? The lawyer responded, “What kind of person would risk his life for someone who just finished ruining him?” How do you think your enemies might feel if they saw you loving them?
- At the end, the narrator talks about how all of life is a tapestry that God is weaving, each of our lives a unique color, a strand in the tapestry adding to its beauty. He says that when we look at the tapestry, it doesn’t make sense, often—it’s ugly and fully of knots, and it’s chaotic. But, we are looking at the underside. Someday, when we get to heaven, we’ll see it from God’s perspective—we’ll see it with a “God’s eye view” and the right perspective, looking at the top of it, and then we will see it for the beautiful masterpiece that it is. Then it will make sense. Does this illustration help you to be patient with the ways God does things? Does it help you understand why things look bad from our perspective at times? Does it help you trust God?