Simply put – it’s a good movie if you come with questions and desire.
The movie starts slow and stays low for a period of time. And perhaps there is not enough tension in the main character to keep the viewer fully engaged. He is somewhat stereotypically religious despite his quirks and oddities. But there is enough here for the serious Christ-follower to fill in the blanks and create a story all by himself/herself.
The bottom line reality is this: Jesus and the impulse he set loose in the world is THE great fact of history, to paraphrase Kenneth Latourette, Yale church historian. Wherever the Spirit of Jesus goes the world gets changed, one way or another. No sincere Christ-follower can escape feeling the suffering of the word. Jesus tenderizes the heart, and there comes back again and again to the Christian heart the words of Jesus, “For God so loved the world…” The response of the Apostle Paul captures this: “When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones.” (2Co 11:29)
This is what makes Amazing Grace captivating. The Christ-follower gets a look at what happens when a heart is compelled by the love of Christ. Self-reflection is what keeps me riveted to the movie. Is this me? Would I bear that price? Would I persevere that long? Would I spend and be spent?
I am not acquainted with the politics of Wilberforce and how he played the game. The movie suggests that Wilberforce’s cause did not prosper until he learned to play that game. I wonder. The message reminded me of the aphorism of Jesus about being a wise as serpents and gentle as doves. The movie makes the point is that we cannot simply be moral – we must be engaged for real change. Certainly in our day we think of James Dobson and Chuck Colson.
Sometimes I wonder about the conservatism of evangelicalism. Woodrow Wilson said that a conservative is someone who sits and thinks, but mostly sits. That would describe a lot of our churches. We will send money for missions all over the world – medical missions, literacy missions, educational missions, etc., but we won’t do the same thing in our cities and towns. This is a generalization, to be sure, but a generalization that we all know is true enough to make us uneasy.
See the movie. Ask yourself what part of the world’s suffering touches your heart. And then launch. Don’t just be good. Do some good.