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April 17, 2014

Tim Kolodziej: ‘God’s Not Dead’ and the hope of Easter

NEW CASTLE — So my wife and I went to see “God’s Not Dead” the other night.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, here’s the premise:

On the first day of class, an atheist college professor demands that his philosophy students renounce their faith or face losing 30 percent of their grade. The 80 or so signed up for the course write “God is Dead” on their papers, as commanded, and turn them in — except for one young man.

For his refusal to comply, he is challenged to defend the antithesis: that God is NOT dead. In front of the class. During three upcoming sessions.

The freshman, Josh Wheaton, agrees and suggests his classmates be the judges of how well he argues God’s case.

While this film certainly has its flaws, there’s also plenty to like, including a line from Josh that could give both sides of the argument a sensible starting point. “You don’t have to commit intellectual suicide to believe in a Creator behind the creation.”

Yet there was another line in the movie, delivered by a Chinese foreign exchange student named Martin Yip, that stuck with me long after leaving the theater: “Why are you doing this?” he asked Josh, knowing he was risking his future by taking on the powerful professor.

“I know,” Josh responded. “I’ve lost my girlfriend, my parents are mad at me and I may flunk this course.”

“I understand,” Martin said. “But you didn’t answer my question. WHY are you doing this?”

Why.

Just one word.

Why.

Martin had heard Josh’s arguments. He had seen Josh’s courage in front of the classroom. He had noticed Josh was willing to risk looking foolish for what appeared to be little gain.

But why?

Because Why is the X Factor for any person of faith.

•“Why” is what moved Noah to build an ark in the middle of a desert.

•“Why” is what moved David to take on Goliath with a sling shot.

•“Why” is what moved Peter to believe he could walk on water.

Yes, in many ways our Why is much more powerful than any argument we can win.

Our Why, in essence, is the Spirit inside of Christ followers that’s often inexplicable — yet so very real to those around us.

As evidenced in the film, there are many people gifted in the area of apologetics. Like skilled attorneys, they can point to scientific evidence and ancient manuscripts for the existence of God.

Then there’s me. And maybe you, too.

We have a different role in the kingdom. Our mission isn’t to disprove God is dead. It’s simply to display that God is alive.

Through our work. Through our words. Through our relationships and hobbies.

When you become a follower of Christ, God makes it plain in scripture that things will never be the same.

We get a new start.

We get a new heart.

And we become a new creation.

•That’s Why we can now wake up before dawn each day. Not because we have to, but because we want to, so we can spend time quietly reading the Bible and praying before the chaos of the day kicks into high gear.

•That’s Why we can now view our livelihood not as a job, but as a calling, a ministry in the marketplace.

•That’s Why we can now view coaching not as a chance to show off our knowledge of X’s and O’s, but as a vehicle to transform hearts and minds.

And when someone asks us Why we view our lives through a different lens, we can give them an answer with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

Call us crazy.

Call us foolish.

Call us Bible-toting buffoons, if you will.

I’m OK with all of that.

But I’ll let author Bob Goff call the shots on what fuels my passion and purpose: “Be the kind of light that makes people squint so hard they can’t even see you anymore.”

So, is God dead, as the college professor and his favorite philosophers suggest?

Tomorrow afternoon, on what’s commonly known as Good Friday, they just might have a point.

But come Sunday morning, we’ll have a chance to see for ourselves and humbly disagree.

As you slip on your finest clothing and gather the family to celebrate the most glorious day of the year, be sure to take a good look inside the tomb at your church.

Thousands of years later, it’s still empty.

Christ is risen.

He is alive.

That’s Why.

Happy Easter, everyone!

 



The trailer for 'God's Not Dead.'

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