Movie Spotlight: Selma

If you haven’t had the fortune of seeing this film yet, you’re missing out. Personally, I regret not being able to view the movie until last night.

Selma is sensational on all accounts. Acting, film-scoring, screenplay, content, message. Each of these categories and more deliver a worthy tribute to the countless lives whose blood, sweat and tears helped paved the way in the Civil Rights Movement thus far.

Here are a few specifics that I enjoyed about the movie:

  • Their faith. While this film and the Civil Rights Movement was not a Christian movement per se, it was rooted in and led by men and women who were devout followers of Jesus. We see moments where Dr. King was encouraged by close friends with passages from the bible as well as numerous speeches where Martin exhorts people with words from scripture.
  • Their doubt. I knew Martin Luther King Jr. was human but for some reason, this never translated to the way I understood what he and his family endured. The constant death threats, the tension it caused within their family and the doubt it casted over their own hearts and minds.
  • Their pain. While the film is only PG-13, they were still able to portray much pain and suffering in a raw and powerful manner. Multiple times was I led to tears of sorrow as well as of gratitude because of how well we as an audience were drawn into the community’s burdens. On numerous occasions, I became infuriated by and in shock of what was being portrayed before my eyes.
  • Their message. This was not a black problem nor was it a southern problem but it was an American, and even more so, it was a human problem. The march to Selma helped highlight the still present prejudice and injustices inflicted upon people of color. While unfortunately the war is not over, this battle and its victory played such a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Their motive. King and the movement he helped lead were motivated by their unwavering belief that all humanity was created and loved equally by their Creator. Because of this belief, it led them to believe that all should be treated equally.
  • Their movement. Although this movement seemingly was to promote equality for the black community, in reality their movement fought for the equality of all humanity from all walks of life. To see leaders and citizens from all denominational and faith backgrounds journey hundreds of miles to join the fight was inspiring.
  • Their method. Similar to Jesus and the pathway He calls His people to walk in, Dr. King chose nonviolence to combat brutality, love to combat hate, peace to combat war and truth to combat lies. He chose to seek victory through losing and to gain freedom though sacrifice. The method in which Martin proclaimed their message and advanced the movement was an example of kingdom-motivated ethics.
  • The soundtrack. The collaborative genius behind the film’s anthem track “Glory” by John Legend and Common is both an honoring memoir of the past as well as an electrifying call to the present to fight for a better future.

Into the Unknown

The dark enclosed us within our packed Prius during the deep winter night. As we journeyed the wavering roads through the hills of Oregon, fear and doubt began to seep into my mind. Every mile that numbered our odometer indicated the further we were venturing into foreign lands.

King County, Washington was our destination and a ministry opportunity was our purpose. The area, the climate, the culture, the church, the coffee; each of these and many more would be brand new for us.

New is a nicer way of referring to foreign or the unknown. Although the opportunity for ministry is promising, stepping into the new or unknown was still unnerving to say the least.

Abram & Future Hope

Many years ago, God called a man named Abram.

He asked him to leave his home, extended family and nation he had been a part of for decades and to journey into a foreign land.

In this new land, God would begin to build His covenant community. Even though the hope for the future may have sounded promising to Abram, it must have initially been frightening for him and his wife to leave the known and enter into the unknown.

While I worried about what coffee shop I would go to when we moved to Washington, Abram and his wife most likely dealt with much harsher worries in regards to livelihood and community. Still, the two journeyed from the comforts of their homeland into foreign grounds because of the future hope they had in the promises of God.

Jesus & Future Hope

One of the many factors that separates the Christian faith from others is the incarnation of Jesus. God Himself took on humanity to live the life that we as humans are called to live but are unable to because of sin.

The fantastic thing about Jesus becoming a man is what it demonstrates to us about God:

God loves His people with such passionate affections that Jesus chose to leave His perfect, heavenly kingdom and be confronted with sin, pain, suffering and sorrow.

He didn’t have to do this; He chose to do this. Jesus chose to leave the known royal comforts of Heaven and enter into a realm filled with evil, something He was yet to face.

This incarnation culminated at the cross. The bloody, devastating, excruciatingly tormenting cross. On the cross, Jesus entered into the harshest of unknowns. The author of Hebrews shared with us why He was willing to go through such pain:

He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.

Jesus obeyed God’s call to leave behind His riches and go into the unknown because of the joy that was set before Him. He knew the hope that was in God and His promises. He knew that what was before Him was immeasurably greater than what God was calling Him to leave behind.

Today & Our Future Hope

What does this look like for us? How does the future hope we have in God affect the way we live today, tomorrow and the rest of our lives?

Maybe it means choosing a different career path. Perhaps it means forgiving someone even though they don’t deserve it. Or maybe it means giving up something foundational to who we are. Why?

We do all this and more because our future hope in God, the hope that is immeasurably greater than what God is calling us to leave behind.