I recently saw the movie "Fireproof". It was a great movie about the power of the conversion experience when the love of God invades a life and gets shed abroad in a heart to the point of overflowing into the world.
It reminds me of some things our Pastor said in his sermon series on "LOVE".
"Love is the cure for everything"
"Every failure is a love failure"
"The problem with the world's love is that they are trying to love without ever experiencing the only true and perfect love-the love of God."
The movie was a great example of the difference between religion and relationship. The first 20 days blared with religion--going through the motions when your heart is not in it. The second 20 and subsequent days after that were genuinely heart felt because a heart change had taken place. No more was loving a chore or a job, but was an outward expression of what was in the heart.
It was a wonderful picture of what TRUE conversion is. I especially appreciated that there was no "repeat after me prayer". Caleb was left to work out his salvation between him and God alone. Truly if you have to have someone lead you in a prayer of repentance, you are not truly convicted nor are you truly repentant. When you ready to be saved, there is a desperation that you just can't hold in.
I loved the example set by the Caleb's father. He was what any true born again believer should be like and a wonderful reflection of our heavenly Father. He was bold as a lion, wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. He was a man of prayer, humility and much wisdom.
I loved how it was evident in showing the reality of what happens when we surrender to Christ. We receive a new nature and it's no longer that we DO things consciously but that we BECOME something that we weren't before so it is now as natural to do the new things as it was to do the old things that we did before conversion. We get a "new normal", as Caleb so eloquently put it. Our new life of love is as natural to us as our old life of sin was. That's the power of the new birth!!!!
Caleb didn't become better, he became deader. He didn't get a re-model, he got a total renovation. There wasn't any self-improvement, there was just self-replacement.
The "Love Dare" is not a book, it's not the latest, greatest, church program. It is simply the gospel. I lived through and experienced the "Love Dare" many, many years ago, but my instructions weren't found in the pages of neatly written book. It didn't come packaged as a marriage changing program. It came to me one day after another on my knees and in the Word of God. And "my 40 days" were tailor made for my failed marriage. The things God instructed me to do were tailor made to reach MY husband's heart and to build up MY marriage.
I hesitate to call the "Love Dare" or "The Purpose Driven Life" generic because they are based on sound Biblical doctrine, and this doctrine when received by faith will work for any believer....but....why wait until some human writes a book when you can have a tailor made program straight from the hallways of heaven? Why not experience the joy of finding the "Love Dare" on your knees in direct relationship and conversation with Almighty God?
As a minister's wife, I have had to come to ask the question "What is the attraction of these types of books to the born again Christian?" Why did people who claimed to be born again for years "suddenly" find their purpose by reading "The Purpose Driven Life'? Where was it before? Why didn't they find it in God's Word? Why am I hearing about "a" book that "changed my life", that "saved my marriage" and not hearing about "THE" Book? Why do people find these books, written by human hands so intriguing, exciting and life changing and then turn around and say that THE BOOK, written by the finger of God is boring and hard to understand? This is a major concern and problem! If revelation comes only through the Spirit of God, won't He reveal His Word to us as we "study to show ourselves approved"? Didn't He create us to hear and know His voice, to have fellowship and relationship with Him?
So I have to ask, are we receiving revelation from these latest Christian phenomenas, or are we just receiving more knowledge that fuels our works in the flesh in an attempt to accomplish a spiritual work? To me, it's a telling story of how our culture has crept into the church. Our shelves are full of Christian books that we have read while our Bible lays unused and irrelevant to our lives.
To me, this movie is a wonderful evangelistic tool, but why is it also evangelizing the church? Could it be that there is too much world in the church? The "Love Dare" can be found clearly in scripture in just a few short verses. What I don't understand is the mass appeal of evangelistic books and movies to the lives of professing Christians. It makes me question first their concept of what the doctrine of salvation is all about. Are they truly saved or just standing on the edge of the family of God, but not quite in, an "almost" Christian?
It makes me question why we aren't experiencing these things through the simple study of the Word and prayer, when this is how it has always been done since the founding of the church and has proved much more successful than anything we see in Modern Christianity? The Word of God and prayer has not lost it's power, nor it's effectiveness. God has not changed His methods. It is still the preaching of the Word that saves a soul. It is still the power of the Word and prayer that sanctifies. And as a minister's wife, I have to ask myself, "what is being preached in American pulpits, if not this?"
I don't think that the main message of this movie had anything to do with marriage. Marriage was simply the avenue used to present the primary message--the life changing power of the love of God to a sinner who will come to the realization that he is lost, a failure, and in need of a Savior.
Perhaps modern day Christians are half hearted, as Caleb was the first 20 days of the "Love Dare". Perhaps we do not have the heart for the Word because we do not have the love of God in our hearts.
I'm not bashing the book or the movie makers. I think their love for the lost is all too evident in the film. And if it can help lead someone to Christ, I'm all for it. But the fact still remains that if we would just read the Bible and do what it says, we would be a greater testimony to the world. And instead of having to be evangelized ourselves, we could evangelize the world and not waste the resources such as movies or books on "the professing church".
Church, let's be the church!!! Let's find our strength, our victory, our help, our source, in THE BOOK, not books written about THE BOOK! The Bible is a life source! It is living, it is active in our lives when received by faith and obeyed by love! Let's get "back to the Bible", the basics, the BEST!