I have to say, I was pretty interested to read in the press about Angelina Jolie praying for the rain to stop during the filming of “Unbroken”. I love this kind of stuff, I really do, but there something much more important I want to write about.
This story was the actually last of three jigsaw puzzle pieces rattling around my head over the past few days. Let me lay them out.
Angelina Jolie had been spending a lot of time with Louis Zamperini, the subject of the film Unbroken, who was a WW2 veteran and Christian. A crucial shot near the end of film needed sunlight, and it was raining. It is reported that Zamperini and his faith had so affected her, that Jolie took a risk and according to witnesses, got to her knees and prayed for the rain to stop. The rain stopped right away, they got the shot and the rain restarted. Miracle. Nice.
The next puzzle piece was a related link in my Facebook feed about Jolie receiving an honorary damehood from the Queen for her work campaigning against rape in war-zones.
The foundation for this post, and first puzzle piece, was an article I read which explained how the Christian faith is pointless without actually living it out (James 2:14-26).
Jesus himself went over this ground, shocking those listening to Him by saying that not everyone who calls Him “Lord” will actually get into heaven, only those who obey him (Matthew 7:21). A much weightier example is given later on in Matthew 25 when Jesus gives concrete examples of what he really expects from his followers. It’s tough reading for Christians who are caught up in the go-to-church-tick-the-box routine but it marries up nicely with some Old Testament stuff (Isaiah 58:6-7) about what God considers as true worship.
God doesn’t want to us tucked away in a church singing songs. If you take a moment to follow the links above, you’ll see that there isn’t much there about being in church or running around praying for miracles, although
I’m sure that this should be part of the package at some point. [update] Jesus tells his followers to pray for sick, to perform miracles in His name. These are the signs which follow those who believe.
Let’s bring Angelina Jolie back in the picture. Ok, she got down on her knees on a rainy film set and asked God to hold back the rain so she could get the shot to finish the film. This is what the Christian press has gotten hold of. God provided the miracle, sure, but what I would hate to happen is that because of this Mrs. Jolie becomes some sort of poster child for Christians. Starting to share links on social media sites as if to say, “Hey look, my faith is valid is cool!”, would be to miss a very important key part of Jolie’s life; the part which earned her the honorary damehood.
This part of her life which I was previously only dimly aware of, is the campaign work which she is doing to end war-zone sexual violence and rape. She is setting captives free. Is it possible that one day she will meet Jesus face to face? Might she find herself gob-smacked to be amongst those who pleased Him?
I can imagine the conversation;
“Jesus, why I am here? When did I give you something to eat or drink? When did I welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?”
“Angelina, my daughter. When ever you did it for least important of the people you met, for those who had been abused and exploited sexually, you might as well have done it for me.”
It might also be true that there will many people from church trying to figure out why they are not in crowd with Jolie. They turned up each Sunday, took their turn on the coffee rota, helped with collection ..
Feel free to point out my flawed theology in the comments. For real. I’m just kicking around an idea that Jesus followers need to FOLLOW, not just BE, and using Jolie as an example.
I have faith in Jesus. There are enough bible verses I can quote, that just by those five words alone, I am guaranteed a place in heaven. But as James wrote, if I do nothing with my faith, if I don’t let it affect how I live my life then it’s a dead and useless faith. Devoid of all meaning.
It’s only when
I we go to see those in hospital, give clothes to those who need them – read the list yourself – that my our faith is of use and pleasing to Jesus.
Image credit: AP/Universal Pictures/AP