Enemy of the State – Big Brother’s Watching

Theme: Is God always monitoring us?

Bible refs: Luke 18 vv 1-8; Psalm 103 vv 8-14

Location of clip: 49 mins and 16 secs to 51 mins 49 secs

Warning: This clip contains swearing

Film Description: 
Robert Dean is a happy successful married lawyer. But all that falls apart when he meets an old friend who secretly hides a computer disc amongst Robert’s Christmas shopping. The disc contains incriminating footage of a political assassination.
So Robert becomes a target. The National Security Agency want that disc back, and they’ll stop at nothing to track Robert down. They bug his house, his clothes, his watch, everything. He loses his job and all his credit cards get cancelled. Robert is on the run, and being hunted by NSA agents using all the very best technology available.
Every where he goes he is watched and it seems as if there is no way out.

Clip description: 
Robert meets up with old flame Rachel Dean to try and find out what’s going on. She has been supplying him with information for years, information supplied by a mysterious contact going by the name of Brill. Robert reckons if he can contact this Brill he may be able to fathom why he is being targeted. Rachel tells him that she has found out she is being monitored by the IRS and has been for four years. They are both under scrutiny and therefore in danger. What they don’t realise is that this very conversation is being monitored and recorded by a whole crowd of agents with more microphones and cameras than the BBC. Agents are secreted in nearby vehicles and buildings and some even on the ground as tramps and shoppers. This is a major surveillance operation. Everything Robert does now is being watched and taped.

How do we see God? Like these National Security Agents? As a spying, ever-watching, lie-detecting snooper. Waiting for our next mistake and recording our crimes and misdemeanours? Most of us do. That’s probably why Jesus described God as an unjust judge in his parable about the judge and the widow in Luke 18. He knew that we all have days when fear God will judge us and we feel that he is unfair. He understands that we struggle to really believe in a kind, caring father. We have all had battered upbringings. The original plan was that we should look at our parents and learn what a loving God is like. But of course, all parents are now imperfect and cannot possibly model a perfect God. (I say that with confidence as I’m an appalling parent myself.) So we all end up damaged, and with a fractured picture of our creator.

As a result we fear that he is waiting, watching to catch us out on the slightest of mistakes. We try and please him, we work hard to get it right. We find it difficult to believe that Jesus meant what he said when he told us, “I have come that you might have life, life in all its fullness.” And, “I have not come to judge the world, but to be its saviour.”
The problem with seeing God as a harsh judge is that it can make us harsh judges too. For centuries the church has been a critical place – for goodness sake we invented the thumbscrew and the rack and the inquisition. Often when people fall they feel they must leave their ministries, or their fellowships. The story is told of a prostitute who, when offered the chance to go to church said, “Why? I already feel bad enough about myself as it is.”
God is not up there waiting to catch us out. He is down here, wanting to help our every move. He loves to be involved with our lives, and he understands that we are only dust. He does not have the high expectations of ourselves that we have. He is kind and quick to forgive.

1. Are you tempted to see God as a tyrant with a big stick, waiting to punish us?
2. When offered the chance to go to church a prostitute once replied, “Why? I already feel bad enough about myself as it is.” Why do many people see church as a place of judgement?
3. I often hear sermons about sin. If an alien visited our church for a while and then returned home I think he would say we were people who felt unforgiven – because we always bash on about repenting. What about your church?
4. Can you think of other people who bring God’s kindness to you?
5. Did the clip make you think about anything else?

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