Blindsided by “The Blind Side”

We went out on a date tonight and decided to see the movie “The Blind Side.”  Laura decided what film we would see because I had no strong opinion; I probably would have picked “2012” or “Boondock Saints 2.”  I’m really glad she picked the movie, because it was an absolutely awesome time.

Probably the best part of the whole movie is that it is based on a true story.  Reading Michael Oher’s Wikipedia page tonight, it reads very consistently with the movie’s plot.  It is a wonderful and heart-warming story.  It’s not completely sappy, with enough genuinely laugh out loud humor to keep it from becoming cliche.  (Laura’s favorite is when Leigh Anne [played by Sandra Bullock] tells an old acquaintance of Michael’s who threatens him that she is in a prayer group with the DA, a member of the NRA, and is “always packin'”)

I love the way that Christianity is discussed in this movie.  I wasn’t expecting it to be an overtly Christian film and it’s really not.  This isn’t a story about Jesus but about this family and the son that God plops in their laps unexpectedly.  However, the high school in the film (and in Oher’s real life) is a Christian school.  Several times teachers, administrators, and coaches are asked if they really take the Christian commission of the school seriously, and admonished to act like it if they did.  The family prays over Thanksgiving dinner in a meaningful way.  Though the faith of this family is perhaps compartmentalized a bit, they nevertheless embrace Christ.  That is always good to see in a mainstream film!

My only gripe theologically is the sign on the arch at Wingate Christian School where Michael enrolls.  Its slogan is a misquote of the Bible…it says “with men this is possible; with God all things are possible.”  This is quite the mangling of Matthew 19:26, which says almost the opposite that “with people this is IMPOSSIBLE, but with God all things are possible.”  Christian school slogan FAIL.  I mean, really guys, you couldn’t run this by an aunt of the second assistant production manager who teaches 3rd grade Sunday School?  No fact checking, even an internet search?  Other than that, though, it was good to go.

Be careful of a bit of language (nothing major, but remember I was in the Navy so I am not very sensitive to language) as well as a scene near the end when Michael is tempted by some old acquaintances who offer him booze and drugs.  That scene is a bit intense and has some provocative sexual discussion.  Finally, at the very end of the movie Michael is headed off to college and a couple of pretty girls catch his eye.  At that point Leigh Anne tells him that if he gets a young woman pregnant out of wedlock that she will cut his you-know-what off. (but she actually says it…Laura will absolutely kill me if I put that term in my blog!)  It earned its PG-13 rating but is a great movie for teens and adults.

The movie is a really good story of redemption, love, and seeing past the first impression.

As unlikely as it sounds, there are several NFL players (among them pro bowler Keith Bulluck) who have similar stories.  They should always ring true in our hearts as Christians.  How many times do we see the risks when God sees the rewards?  How often do we stop to go past the exterior appearance to dig for the true person?  In the movie Michael begins with a 0.6 GPA and no social skills whatsoever, having bounced around to 7 foster homes and 9 schools; how many of us would give that kid the time of day?

It is the story of redemption, and one that we all need to remember.  It brought me back to a song that we sang this morning in worship (if you will forgive me one more embedded video).

Jesus paid it all for each and every one of us.  How often do I look at the outside and never get past what is to what could be?  Isaiah 55:8 tells us that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.”  What a reminder that when we see someone who is an underachiever, or who comes from a different background or has baggage or sin in their life that they are a bearer of the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and worthy of us taking the time to let them know that they are important.

One of the great plot lines in the movie is that while everyone sees that the Tuohy family has changed Michael’s life, they agree that he changed theirs more.  Isn’t that the way God works?  When we step out of our comfort zone and share the love of Christ with others it changes and blesses us far more than anything we can give them.

The church I pastor just had 4 more foster children adopted into loving homes, bringing the total of kids to 27 if I count right in the last 5 or 6 years. (and for the record our church has an average weekly attendance of around 150, so it’s not like that comes from a megachurch)  I get to see this story told time and again by loving families who welcome kids with heart-wrenching stories and give them a place to belong and be loved.  We haven’t had a first round draft pick yet, but maybe one day!

For the record, the real Michael has not read the book and has no plans to see the movie.  I don’t blame him one bit, because even though it is close I am sure there is enough artistic license that it would drive him nuts to see.  It’s like me watching a Navy movie or a cop watching Cops on TV.

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