-“It’s time for a heart check.”-
This is a movie that is kind of a modern take on the life of Paul the apostle ~ not his WHOLE life, obviously; that would take a good deal longer than the hour and fifty minutes of this movie. It began the way Paul ~ Saul ~ would have been at that time in his life ~ chasing down and killing a member of “the Way,” which is what they called following Jesus. Jesus’ name was never mentioned in this movie, which may or may not be a cinematic way to make the movie less complicated. Less complicated is good, because I know the story of Paul very well, and even I was a bit confused at a few points.
Anyway, in this movie you get to see all the highlights: the zealous and ruthless Paul, the tracking down and imprisonment of the followers of the Way (including Stephen), Paul’s great reputation, the permission for him to go abroad to find more believers, his meeting with God on the road, his temporary blindness and healing from aforementioned impediment, and his newfound faith and following of God. It ended with what may be a reference to Peter’s escape from prison in Acts 12, though it was Paul and a bunch of other Christians who escaped in the movie.
What I liked about this movie was the attention it paid to Paul’s struggles when he first became a Christian. The Bible doesn’t talk about the emotional trauma he must have experienced as he remembered all of the Christians ~ now his people ~ that he had imprisoned and killed. In the movie, it implied the fear and hatred that the other Christians probably felt for him. This is the kind of thing we don’t usually think about when we read the Bible ~ I didn’t, anyway, and like I said, I know the story of Paul very well. It’s actually kind of odd that I didn’t think of it. You’d think I would have.
You might be wondering about the quote I put at the beginning of this post: “It’s time for a heart check.” A lot of the time when I read books or watch movies, tiny phrases really stick out to me. This was one of them, and I found it beautiful and intriguing, so I decided to share it with you. I wonder if we should do regular heart checks of our own?
-“This is the Way: He came, He died, He rose, He went up, and He promised to come back.”-
That’s the Gospel, right there, as plain as simple as you can put it. Jesus came down to earth and became one of us. He died on the cross in order to save us from our sins. He rose from the dead and returned to heaven, and He promised to return for us one day. I’m not exactly sure why I included this quote; I think I just liked how simply it was put. Maybe a lot of people over-complicate the Gospel, or (like me) they don’t know an easy way to explain it. Well, if you’re like that ~ like me ~ then there you go, nice and easy.
-“When you do bad things, you need to say you’re sorry and try to make things right. God will forgive you.”-
The words of a child are often simple but wise, I’ve found, though I’ve spent a very miniscule amount of time around children. If you do something to someone, you apologize and you try to make up for it, and you trust that God forgave you even if the other person hasn’t. I’m not sure why I put this quote here either. I think I just found it to be a good snippet of advice.
-“If I can be loved with everything I have done in my life, how much more can you?”-
I liked this quote in the movie because Paul says this in the Bible all the time. That’s his main reassurance for the people around him. “Guys, look: I was the worst you can be. I killed God’s people and put them in prison. I burned their homes and destroyed their families. But despite all that, God forgave me, loves me, and is using me to do great things for Him. If He can do that with a guy as terrible as me, what do you think He can do with YOU?” It was his greatest argument when people doubted if God could really love them, and it was his personal testimony, the way he reached out to people and taught them about God.
-“The world is falling apart. How much more should we be willing to go out and share a better path with others?”-
Now that we’ve been saved, we’ve got a job to do. The world really is falling apart ~ just look around! Disease, poverty, homelessness, generally terrible things happening everywhere in the world, and we’ve got the only true source of hope. Don’t you want others to have the hope that you have? Don’t you want them to know the Way, the Truth, and the Life?
-“One of the hardest lessons to learn, even for me, is that we must love everyone, even our enemies. This might sound strange to you, but we are all given gifts and abilities.”-
These words were spoken by the Ananias character in the movie. It’s true that we are all given special “spiritual gifts” when we become saved, which are spoken of several times throughout the New Testament, including briefly at the beginning of the famous Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. God gives us those abilities in order for us to share them ~ like the parable of the talents, He doesn’t intend for us to hide them. He wants us to use them as best we can, and He will bless us when we return to Him.
It’s also true that loving our enemies is a very hard, but very necessary, thing to learn. You can’t truly experience the love God has for others if you can’t love EVERYONE, regardless of who they are or what they’ve done ~ to you or anyone else. And you can’t truly know God if you don’t understand love, because God is love.
-“It’s in those times when nothing makes sense and I’m so exhausted I can barely pull myself up off the ground, that’s when I find His perfect strength. And the people who are hurting in their brokenness, and even on the darkest nights, the stars still find a place to shine. That’s what I’m holding on to.”-
2 Corinthians 12:10 says that “When I am weak, then He is strong,” and who would know that better than Paul? Do you know what he had to go through to bring the gospel to so many people? Shipwreck, beatings, starvation, storms, near-death (and even minor temporary death at one point)…the list goes on and on. How could any normal human being without the hope of God in their hearts handle all of that? Answer: they couldn’t. When we trust in God, He lends us His strength when we need it, and nothing in the world is stronger.
-“What is truth? Truth is, for those who believe as I do now, that we are set apart. We are the salt of the earth, and He is the Way. If God can use me, the chief of sinners, a man beyond all redemption, then there is hope for anyone. There are signs and wonders everywhere, if you have eyes to see. His Word is our map. He came to show us the Way. He died so we all could live. He rose so we could all have hope, and He is coming back to make all things new. Until that day, my mission is to share my story and show others the truth, no matter what the cost. My name is Paul, and this is my story.
“My journey has just begun.”-