It is strange to me that there seems to be some controversy among Christians about watching the movie ‘The Shack.’ But are these reasons valid?

“I read the book and loved it.” “I read the book and didn’t like certain parts of it.” “I didn’t want to read the book because I was nervous about whether it was portraying God accurately.” These and other banter have been chatted about over coffee or dinner or wherever people talk these days. And over the years the book ‘The Shack’ has been exposed to an exceptional amount of scrutiny.

I guess I don’t quite comprehend why people have had their tail feathers in an uproar. If God is going to speak to us, He can use any means He wants, because He is not limited to our finite, and restricted ways of doing and perceiving things.

Feet on the banister in front of my seat, water bottle in the cupholder, theater lights out, and the surround sound is booming as the movie starts. From that moment until the end of the credit roll, even until the final song became lastingly etched on my heart, I was fixed on every word and every scene. I had read the book, so I knew the plot. But I think that this enhanced my experience because I was anticipating what would happen next. Sort of like watching a sports game even though you know who wins; you know you have cheated, sneaking glimpses of it throughout its original airing. But you can still be riveted as your star player catches the ball for the winning goal because now you are finally getting to see it with your own eyes. In the case of ‘The Shack,’ my heart was pounding throughout the opening scenes as I was in anticipation of when ‘it’ would happen.

I almost hoped they would leave out that dreadful part. But it is strikingly one of the most central aspects of the entire movie other than the portrayal of God Himself. The precious, beautiful little sweet girl snatched away from the family forever while her father is saving his son from drowning in the lake at their campsite. Oh, the horror that anyone could do such an evil thing, kidnapping and killing a child. Deepest heartache.

As I contemplate what this has to do with ‘Faith In Action,’ which is the current category we are discussing (you can view the previous post here or see the beginning of the category here), I can’t help but wonder if this is the main idea in the first place. When we need to forgive, and we are in major annexed about it, truthfully, the only way we can transition to a change of heart is to cross the threshold and see it from God’s perspective. That is what this movie does.

As I was weeping (making the crucial mistake of not bringing any tissue and therefore I was eventually forced to use my sleeve – yes that’s right, I used my sleeve to mop up my deluge of tears), my tears were real. Some of them were notably for the people in the movie who were struggling, and a few were for myself as I reasoned through some of the past hurts and judgments in my life. But the majority of my tears were because this movie was doing an incredible job of showing off the Lords’ lavish and unfailing love.

I believe that God wants us to come away with Him to a place we seldom go to, due to our frenzied lives. We usually live somewhere on the outskirts and the fray of a genuine encounter with God. He is real. He can transform us and captivate our attention. Mack, the main character, was encompassed in the beauty of some incredibly profound supernatural surroundings, and he struggled to relate to them at first. He finally let himself be engulfed. I let myself be taken away as well. It was surreal. Transported to the womb of God, surrounded by His wonder as I experienced a little slice of heaven on earth right there in a movie theater.

In reality, we often only let ourselves be a little old rundown shack of despair. We often perceive the place of our gut-wrenching emotions, the place that God lures us away (so He can ‘fix’ us) to look something a little bit like this…  

But deep inside of me, I see it so differently… The place of encounter is sacred; it’s holy ground. And I think God wants us to visualize it to look more like this…

The Shack that God sees

Not a church building, but a sacred ‘building up’ of our faith in action.

In the movie, there were two scenes of the inside of a church, one near the beginning of the film when Mack and his family were attending what seemed like the typical standard stoic Sunday church service. As I scanned through the ‘congregation,’ I couldn’t help but see into the lost souls that looked either dazed and confused or quite frankly ‘bored out of their gourd.’ Now granted this was a movie, and these were actors, but I have seen ‘these’ same people in real life (I have been one of them). The second scene near the end of the film, was the same little church, and the scene was similar in appearance, but this time I could see transformation among the people, hope, forgiveness, and the knowing of love.

Mack was the catalyst who spent a ‘weekend’ in a shack with God, and it revolutionized him forever, impacting all those around him. Each of us has this opportunity to be mended, healed and changed. We have to be willing to go at the moment of God’s timely invitation and be prepared to show up to the sacred mission He has handpicked especially for us. What a privilege to encounter God in this mysterious otherworldly way.

I don’t think we should scrutinize how God might move in someone’s life. And I don’t believe it is necessary or even a good idea to undermine the intentions and motives of those who are using their creative license, and in this movie their creative genius, as a platform to voice our opinions about how we think God should be depicted.

How do we know… any of us… we have yet to meet Him face to face (or we wouldn’t still be here on the earth).

Instead, we can be led to the ‘holy shack’ and have our hearts changed by His presence.

And while we are at it can we take others with us? After all, if this would be what church is truly all about, wouldn’t it be an inviting place that encourages and woos real life people straight into the beautiful love of God. So inviting that we can all enjoy Him together no matter how each one of us ‘depicts’ Him. In truth, our view of Him doesn’t change who He is. Because no matter what, He is love.

If you haven’t yet, or you have been apprehensive – go – See the movie!

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