A controversial best selling book that is now a controversial box office hit.
Within the Christian community you will find people that love, hate or have no opinion whatsoever on the story. We decided to read the book a few months back when we heard a movie would be hitting the big screen. It was definitely a page turner and hit us with every emotion possible. There were some questionable moments in the book for sure. There were also some deep soul searching moments. We decided before reading to share our thoughts, questions and concerns with each other. Open conversation is so important whether dealing with a controversial book or controversial issue.
Since most have either seen or will see the movie we decided to share some of our take aways.
Forgiveness & Grace:
“It’s been a while. I’ve missed you. I’ll be at the shack next weekend if you want to get together.” Papa
The overall theme of this story is about a man, Mack, who after experiencing a horrific tragedy begins to find hope and healing through the restoration of his relationship with God. This simple note sets Mack on a journey filled with forgiveness and grace. We think the “shack” was a perfect illustration of events in our own lives that have left us broken, hurt or bitter. When God asked Mack to return to the Shack, it was not to bring him back to the pain, but to set him on a course of forgiveness which leads to healing. Coming face-to-face with certain events or people is not always ideal, but throughout the story we see that in order for Mack to move past his “great sadness”, he had to forgive and extend grace. We may need to walk a similar journey, returning to something emotionally uncomfortable to move beyond it, to something better. It is a journey that God is willing to walk hand in hand with us, if we allow Him.
Redemption & Healing:
If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, it is not hard to feel a sense of wanting and longing for this type of relationship with God. In one of the opening scenes with Jesus, they focus on the eyes of actor portraying Jesus and it feels as though he is gazing into your soul and welcoming you home.
As we take this journey with Mack, we can feel his pain, his hurt, his disappointment and his anger towards God. Many of us have experienced some or all of these emotions. We may have found ourselves questioning the goodness of God. Wondering if God is punishing us for some wrong doing. True to life, it was a a gut wrenching and emotional experience.
There is beauty in watching Mack’s heart transform from hopelessness and despair to hope, peace and faith which is truly the message of the Gospel. There isn’t any shame in feeling these emotions or having questions towards God as long as we seek God and godly counsel in the process. It is working through these emotions that we will find true healing.
Sin & The Path To Heaven:
The Shack poses the many questions and responds with many questionable responses. One of these questions was; does God “punish” sin? Papa (God) tells Mack “Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”
This is partially true but a half-truth can be just as confusing as a false statement. Can I be real for a moment? Not all sin feels like punishment, some sins are very pleasurable.
John 3:18 states “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
There is another conversation with Mack and Jesus where Jesus tells Mack, that He meets people on whatever road they travel, that He is looking to join people in their transformation. (Paraphrasing from Belly of the Beast)
It can be very appealing to think that we will not be held accountable for our sins beyond the pain we may feel within our sin but that is not what the bible states. The bible is a beautiful story of redemption and reconciliation where God, through Jesus, forgives us of our sins and restores us into relationship with Him. Jesus is the cure. We can be forgiven of all of our sins through Jesus and we can walk in freedom. This freedom does not come apart from Jesus even if our life of sin causes us tremendous pain or heartache. Jesus will meet us where we are, but the intent of our “meeting” is not only transformation but salvation.
We understand the negative surrounding the movie and in no way validate the story as scriptural or 100% bible based. Nothing is ever meant to replace the word of God. Knowing your bible and the truth is vital whether hearing a sermon preached over a pulpit, reading a book or watching a movie. It is entirely our responsibility to KNOW the God we serve.
Everything we see or hear should always be placed through a filter of the Truth.
Now there are some inaccuracies that were pretty obvious, but what we did grasp in full was the underlying story – God’s love for His people. To see a genuine relationship between God and His child was truly beautiful – tending a garden, enjoying dinner and even conversations on creation. Isn’t that what we are striving for? Not just religion, but relationship? Even if we have junk that we are dealing with that God is concerned for us and desires to help us overcome? To be FREE. It truly is a beautiful story to watch unfold.
So whether you agree or disagree with this movie, allow it to be a conversation starter into the true nature and character of God. Maybe you will find yourself doing some soul searching as well and lead you on your own road of healing.
Misty and Tisha