15 December 2009

Renewing A Star's Faith


Sandra Bullock is gorgeous. I'll just go ahead and get that out of the way. She's not only physically beautiful but her apparent confidence, humor, charm, and warmth radiate from her on screen, during interviews, and everywhere else. I can't recall any movie with her that's flopped. No, not even Demolition Man.

Recently, one of Sandra's perspectives changed. To her, Christians were people who lectured her on how to live her life while she thought she was living a pretty good life. Christians appeared to speak about Godly living while having affairs and mishandling money.

Sandra's perceptions of Christians changed with meeting Leigh Anne Tuohy, the woman she portrays in The Blind Side. Leigh Anne showed Sandra the reality of Jesus Christ by simply being herself and being real. Until meeting Leah Anne, Sandra was comfortable in her definition of Christians.


Bullock says she now has "faith in those who say they represent a faith." Through getting to know Leigh Anne, Sandra saw the authenticity of religious faith. "She was so open and honest and forthright," Bullock shares. "And I said, wow, I finally met someone who practices but doesn't preach."

Christians were hypocrites to Sandra. They used faith as a banner, didn't practice what they preached, but then said, "I'm a good Christian and I go to church and this is the way you should live your life."

Preaching not practicing.

"Before, I was like, do not give me a lecture on how to live my life when I know I'm a pretty decent human being," says the actress. "I might not go to church everyday, but I know I do the right thing or try to. You're going to church and you're still sleeping around on your wife...how are you better than I am? So I finally met people who walk the walk."

Practicing not preaching.

Through this friendship, Sandra doesn't appear to have accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. However, all we know of her encounters with Leah Anne are what the media has shared. I believe the connection and the relationship is deeper. I believe God brought Leah Anne into Sandra's life for a purpose: to plant a seed of faith. I pray that seed has a chance to mature.

Here we have a gorgeous, accomplished, talented actress who thought as many people do: I'm okay. I'm a good person. I do the right things or at least try to. I'm okay.

There's no need for God in that thinking. The person is comfortable with their own goodness. They are pushed further away from knowing God when they encounter people who preach about their faith but don't practice their faith.

1 Peter speaks to this. "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:15-16)

Maybe some Christians read verse 15 and are very ready to give an answer for their hope. They, as Sandra mentioned, "used faith as a banner" to proclaim the gospel. There's nothing wrong with that approach but don't forget verse 16. Is there gentleness or respect in the sharing?

Christians sometimes miss the point. When Leigh Ann was asked how her faith played into her actions: "You know, there never was a decision to take in Michael. Michael was there, he had a need, and we were able to fill it. Do I think that our faith played a part in that? Absolutely. We looked over and we said, “Wow, that young man needs some clothes."


When asked what made this movie different Leigh Anne said, "These people cared about getting it right, and I think it shows. Maybe I wouldn’t use those drapes, and maybe I don’t wear my skirts that tight, but what does it matter?"


We can ask ourselves two questions from these comments: do you conditionally serve someone and where is your focus while serving?

When the Tuohy's saw Michael walking in the cold rain, they saw a young man in need. Granted, he wasn't a complete stranger as they already knew of "Big Mike" from seeing him at their childrens' school. But they knew nothing about him.

We easily place conditions on how we serve people by their appearance (face, hair style, skin color, clothes, walking stride), the time of day (can anyone see me, is anyone close if I need help), and the convenience of serving (can I pull the car over, do I have some money handy, do I have time to talk to them). Our serving others is conditional because it's based on what's acceptable our schedule and convenience. But serving isn't about us.

Then when we do serve, where is our focus? Are we concerned how we look to others and what they'll think of seeing us do this? Are we worried about the kind of the drapes or the tightness of the skirts? Are we judgmental of the person we're serving in a dozen little ways? Or are we focused on being "Jesus in the flesh" to that person at that moment in time and focused on loving and listening to them?

"So I’ve had the blessing of having my -- not a restored faith, but I now have faith in those who say they represent a faith," said Sandra. "So I’ve finally met people that walk the walk and it’s made me happy, really happy."

Practicing not preaching.

The fact is, it's harder to practice being a Christian than it is to preach. We all can share Scripture and testimonies to some degree. Many of us have been through evangelical training such as F.A.I.T.H. or Evangelism Explosion. And it's far too easy to take those principles and pounce on someone, thus beating them over the head with the Bible in an effort to "win them to Jesus."

Whereas, if we practice our faith - day in and day out - and always being ready to share His love with someone in respect and gentleness no one can speak ill of that. And even if they do, so what? Christ said the world will hate us because of Him. So, let them hate, for 1Peter also says "those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

Ultimately, our actions (practice) speak louder than our words (preach). Show and share the love of Christ daily.