At our church we’re starting a preaching series called “Summer at the Movies” in which we allow recent movies to prompt us to discuss questions of faith. We begin the series by exploring the question of doubt, with the movie Risen as a backdrop.
I grew up attending First Presbyterian Church in Ashland, Kentucky. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe. Most everyone said they believed back then; the question was where you went to church. My doubts centered on the way other Christians acted. Some people seemed to insist that they had a corner on the truth; that if you didn’t believe exactly the way they did, you were going to hell. I wasn’t sure I wanted anything to do with the Christian faith if believing meant being like them.
Surveys continue to say that one of the main reasons people stay away from church is the behavior of other Christians. If the Christian faith is true, it should make you humble and confident, not arrogant and condescending. .
In Risen, Joseph Fiennes plays a Roman Tribune named Clavius who is ordered by Pontius Pilate to investigate what happened to the body of Jesus after the crucifixion.
Nothing in Clavius’ worldview allowed him to believe that a person could come back from the dead. But Clavius kept an open mind. He followed the evidence.
It is really, really sad that some Christians are an obstacle to faith for many people. But the thing is, while other Christians may be obstacles at times to people with doubts, Jesus isn’t.
In Risen, Jesus, played by actor Cliff Curtis, is gracious and understanding to Clavius. He doesn’t try to browbeat Clavius into believing. He sits with Clavius and lets him wrestle with his doubts.
The real Jesus is like that too.