“Let’s go see a movie tonight,” my wife suggested on Friday evening. “Sure,” I said, “what’s playing?” My wife loves going to the movies and I like to eat popcorn, so it’s the date that has something for each of us. She checked the listings on Fandango. She happily reported there were 3 good options, none of which I had heard of before. She rattled off the show times and review ratings. Ratings mean about as much to me as who is wearing what dress at the Oscars. It’s the opinion of some critic that lives in a faraway land and gains his worldview through Electronic media and magazines like Vanity Fair. So, I asked my wife, “which movie has the worst critic’s rating, I’d like to see that one.” Her preferred movie was starting soon, so she was ready to throw on her jacket and move quickly towards the theater. As an alternative, I suggested “let’s have a relaxing dinner, then drive to the theater and go see whatever is up next.” Being the fantastic wife she is, she agreed.
An hour later, we were standing at the ticket window weighing our options. She stepped up to the ticket window and purchased two seats to see “Lion”. I figured it was either a cartoon with happy jungle songs about the circle of life or some action movie about Wall Street. Turns out it was neither. It was actually a very moving true story about a 5-year-old impoverished boy, Saroo, from India. Saroo gets lost from his family and, through a series of unfortunate events, ends up a thousand miles away wandering the streets of Calcutta. Through his eyes, we get a glimpse into the dangerous and hard life of a street child in Calcutta. Eventually, Saroo, ends up in an orphanage and then is adopted by a family in Australia. The movie chronicles his new life and eventual journey back to India to find the loving family he lost as a small child. It was a welcome surprise of a movie and well worth the $14 on tickets and $100 on popcorn.
In the days that followed, I could not shake the heartache I felt thinking about those street kids in Calcutta. The movie revealed kids who are ghosts to those around them, as people rush through the bustle of another day. They sleep in the subways and beg on the streets. These kids are brushed aside by a society without the means to support them. As a result, they often fall prey to the child predators who scoop them up and drag them into a world where no child of God belongs. The week following the movie, I began to notice the many radio commercials asking for financial assistance to feed hungry children around the globe, I heard sermons about serving others, and I read bible verses about taking care of the orphan. As I processed all these inputs, I remembered that Jesus called us to a life of repentance and service, “the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve” (Mathew 20:28). In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirt, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mathew 5:3). I always wondered what it meant to be poor in spirit. After seeing the movie Lion and thinking about the poor, parentless, street children of the world, I began to feel poor in spirit. I felt the pain of precious souls in need while I freely sit in a theater and enjoy a bucket of buttered popcorn. I am aware of many charitable organizations that are doing their best to answer the need. Many of us donate to these organizations and I believe we are making a difference. But I also wonder if we, as the body of Christ, made a concerted effort, could we solve this problem? Could we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and take care of the orphan? Could we completely erase these problems from our world? I have started to ask myself, what am I prepared to do?
There was a rich man that approached Jesus and asked him what he needed to do to secure a place in heaven. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. When the rich man responded that he already kept the commandments, Jesus replied, “sell all that you own and give to the poor and you will have treasures in heaven. Then come follow Me” (Mark 10:21). The rich man walked away sad for “he had many possessions.” This seems crazy, who wouldn’t sell everything to spend time getting to know the creator of the world? I wonder how I would respond if I was that rich man. If Christ asked me to merely sell everything I owned that has wheels, and give the proceeds to the poor, would I? I could easily part with my son’s skateboard, but the bikes, motorcycles, cars, and camper, that would be tough. Even my craftsman toolbox has wheels!
I’m still not sure where all this thinking will take me, but the movie Lion has stirred some deep thinking and will definitely have an impact on my future. How much easier it would have been if we had skipped dinner and gone to see the Lego Batman movie!
Defend the weak and the fatherless, uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed – Psalm 82:3