Theme: God is compassionate
Bible refs: Psalm 103 vv 8-14; John 15 vv 9-17
Similar clips: Miracle on 34th Street – Signs and wonders
Location of clip: 1 hr 53 mins and 2 secs to 1 hr 54 mins and 4 secs
Balian is a young blacksmith who has lost everything. He journeys to Jerusalem searching for hope and forgiveness, but there finds a city torn in two by warring Moslems and Christians. The Christians hold the city but the Moslems are spoiling to take it. Against his own judgement Balian takes up arms to defend the city.
A vast army of Moslems has attacked Jerusalem and, so far, the ragtag Christian army has held out. But there have been many casualties on both sides. Saladin and the Moslems bury their dead, Balian orders that theirs be cremated in a mass grave. The priest protests, claiming that cremated souls cannot be resurrected until judgement day, but Balian is not convinced. If they do not burn the bodies they’ll all die of disease contracted from the decomposing flesh.
“God will understand,” he says, “and if he does not, then he is not God, and we need not worry.”
Many things are said about God, many claims are made about him. Other Christians put many demands on us. But one thing is for sure. God is compassionate. Psalm 103 tells us that “the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love…”
And Jesus said, “I don’t call you servants… I call you friends.”
It’s so easy for us to make God out to be a tyrant. Even a benign tyrant. But if we look at the Bible as a whole, and avoid just taking bits out of context here and there, what we see is a God who is desperate to know us, desperate for relationship with us. He made us so that we could share life with him, and his journey, since the fall at the beginning of time, has been all about getting us back into relationship with him. The flood an attempt to wipe out the evil, the commandments to give people healthy ways of living, the prophets and judges bringing messages of truth and reconciliation. Even the harsh words from God are always about trying to wake people up so that they can see him clearly again.
Jesus’s statement is really quite shocking. What other religion offers us the hand of friendship? What other religion says, “God wants to be your friend.” Many cults and religions are about subservience to a dictatorial God. Jesus comes along and shakes all that up and says, “God made you to be close to him, he still wants that. Be his friend.”
Noah, Abraham and Moses all found this to be true.
A vital part of God’s friendship to us is that he really understands. We may make our rules and regulations and our codes of practise but God’s intention is greater than all of that. He doesn’t want people who just live right. He wants people who live. People who have lives full of him. Day after day I have to try and throw off these wrong ideas about God, these ideas that weigh me down, these ideas that tell me if I don’t do this in the right way, or say this in a particular manner, I’ll upset God and he will reject me. He won’t. God’s not fickle like us. He knows our inner thoughts, he knows all the muddle and the mess, we don’t have to cover it up. God understands, he’s a realist. He made normal life and he knows how it works. We don’t have to get it right, we don’t have to be spiritual giants, we just have to be his friend.
1. What holds you back from getting to know God better?
2. What images does the word friendship conjure up for you?
3. Why do you think we try and please God with so many rules?
4. How can we help those outside the church see the vast compassion of God?
5. Did the clip make you think about anything else?
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