The timing of The Book of Henry was an opportunity to say something that has been simmering in my thoughts lately. When I saw the trailer for this movie I remember thinking, “Is this really the justice system Hollywood wants to promote?” Then, the shooting in Virginia occurred, and I’ve waited for someone on the TV to notice the connection. I’m still waiting, hoping that people will have a thoughtful conversation on the current mixed messages that are fueling the way we think.
The Book of Henry is a movie about an eleven-year-old boy who knows the little girl next door is being abused by her stepfather. The boy develops an intricate plan to get rid of that man. His mom discovers his book and ends up working to carry out his plan. It all sounds somewhat noble if a person can believe that the end justifies the mean. That is the same unbalanced thinking that allowed the man to take his rifle to a baseball practice and start shooting senators and congressmen.
I remember watching the television decades ago and thinking, “I shouldn’t be cheering for this couple . . . they aren’t married.” But I did cheer the relationship even though it was wrong, because it was just a TV show. Forty years later very few people, even in the church, consider sex before marriage as ungodly or sinful.
I’ve not seen The Book of Henry, but I read about the ending of the movie online and I won’t spoil the plot-line in case someone wants to see it. The point of this blog post is simply to think about our way of thinking. I do believe media, Hollywood, and the popularity of celebrities has changed our value system in this country.
I appreciated a quote I read from Mark Wahlberg. In an interview about his movie, Patriots Day, he was asked about the politics of Hollywood. Wahlberg was raised in middle America and commented that he was staying out of political discussions and wished his fellow actors would consider doing the same. Wahlberg said, “They might buy your CD or watch your movie, but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills. A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family.” I agree with his statement and wish more celebrities in the media would listen to his advice.
I wonder if something similar could be said about a lot of Christians as well. The basis for our belief is not what we hear another Christian “say.” Even a lot of sermons these days are more about what the preacher thinks than what the Bible says. I wish we wouldn’t allow our definitions of grace, truth, or justice to come from what “seems right.” I wish more Christians who say they believe the Bible is God’s word would consider aligning their beliefs and behaviors with his word.
Every Christian I know, including myself, sins against God daily. I teach the Bible, study the Bible, believe the Bible, and I still disobey what the Bible teaches. The apostle Paul put it best when he wrote:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing (Romans 7:15–19)
Christians have the unique calling to allow our lives to be a flawed but powerful testimony to the reality of God and the truth of his word. That is why God gave us his Holy Spirit and told us, “Be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
Our thoughts determine our actions, so every now and again it is a good idea to step back and think about our thinking. Do we think more like Hollywood or more like God? Are we believing what people have said about God, or are we believing what God said about himself? Maybe today is a good time to turn off the world and spend some quality time thinking.
God will speak into your silence through his Holy Spirit. You will know it’s God if the thought is consistent with his word. Look for Satan in those thoughts that only “sound or seem right.” Satan is the king of partial truth but the true King said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). Let’s think like the King, and then act accordingly. That is the Christian witness our culture needs to see and hear today.