Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Why I’m so GLAD I saw Noah, the Movie

Hi Friends,

So, I went to see Noah this week, mostly because I’m a big fan of Russel Crowe’s acting and I’ve been waiting for this one for months.  Yes, I read many negative reviews from Christians, have a lot of friends who hated it, and saw all kinds of declarations on Facebook from friends who refused to see it.

I went to see it anyway, and I’m so, so glad I did.  Why?  Because I saw Jesus.  Or more precisely, I saw the wonder and beauty of what God did for us at the Cross, and how when there was no other way but death, God provided something, Someone, beyond anything we could have imagined to save us.  He gave us Himself, to die in our place.  And that was a truth that I saw so clearly, so beautifully, through the Noah movie.  Let me explain . . .

First of all, you should know that this is not a review of the movie.  I did not go to see Noah as an “evaluator” of how close I thought it stayed to the biblical text.  I didn’t go in as a critic, a reviewer, or a judge of whether or not this movie depicted events as they were most likely to occur from the text.  Instead, I went in a God-hunter ... to enjoy, and find what truth God may reveal through a biblical movie made by a person who is seeing the story from the “outside” -- someone for whom this story is not “old news” read a hundred times.  There’s nothing I like better than to find the wonder of God in unexpected places.

And that’s just what happened as I experienced Noah.

Spoilers ahead ...

So, let’s just cut to the chase.  What took my breath away in this movie?  Here it is:

There is a point in the movie when Noah gets a glimpse, just a glimpse, but a true behind-the-curtain glimpse at the sin in us all.  Not just the bad things those bad people out there do, but a glimpse at the sin nature that is within him, within us all.  And that glimpse changes him profoundly throughout the rest of the movie.

For a moment, he clearly sees what Christians have claimed as a foundational truth:  For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Not just that we have all done some not-so-good things, but that we have ALL been fundamentally corrupted by sin and evil is within us all.  

And he comes out of that experience knowing beyond a doubt that death is the only solution.  Death not just for the bad guys, but for ALL of humanity.  There is no “innocence,” there is no “righteous/good enough.”

Some have complained that our biblical hero, Noah, has been turned into a homicidal maniac by unbelieving filmmakers.  But the truth in the movie is that Noah is indeed turned into a homicidal maniac ... but by a glimpse into the true nature of sinful man.  Isn’t this what God himself tells us when he says, “The wages of sin is DEATH.”

So, I was left breathless, thinking, wondering, what would it be like for me, what would I be like, if I truly saw, even if just for moment, the reality of corruption and sin within me?  What if the veil was pulled back and I encountered the raw truth of sin?  Perhaps I too would believe, not just as a doctrine to which I give mental assent, but truly believe in my soul of souls, that death is indeed the only answer.  The wages of sin really is death.  There is no other answer.  There is no “not so bad,” no “righteous compared to others,” no “good enough.”  There is no one righteous, the Bible tells us, no not one!  And that is a powerful truth revealed in the Noah movie.  Revealed so that Noah is changed ... and so was I.

So Noah struggles throughout the rest of the movie with this choking, incredible truth:  Sin is within every human, and there can be no Eden, no paradise, while man, any man, survives to propagate.  The sin in man will corrupt the whole world.  What answer is there for this oh-so-biblical truth?  What answer but death for every single human being, even the babies?

Is that not the foundation of our faith?  Is that not the first point of the gospel itself?  We cannot save ourselves.  No one is good enough.  We are all hopelessly, helplessly corrupted by sin within our very being.

And yet (spoiler alert!), Noah cannot kill the babies.  He cannot end humanity.  AND GOD CANNOT EITHER.  Love intervenes.  Mercy wins.  And we know, we know as people who live in a broken and fallen world, that Noah was right.  Our sin, embedded in our very nature since the fall of Adam and Eve, will ruin the world, hurt each other, destroy any hope of Eden.  We cannot, will not, have Eden while sin persists within us.  

And so Noah ends, with the reality of the sin within not wiped out by a global flood, with the knowledge that a new beginning is not really a new beginning at all.  Sin remains.  

And the rainbow comes, promising that God will not choose the one option to eradicate the horror of the sin-disease: the end of humanity.  

And that leaves us, or at least it left me, pondering the real question left open at the movie’s close:  So will He, can He ... will He provide another way ... a way Noah could not imagine, a way beyond anything we could dream, a Way to do what seems impossible, to redeem a sinful, integrally-corrupted, humanity?

And of course, for those of us who live on this side of the Cross, we know that He did!  Jesus took upon Himself our death, our sin, our corruption.  When death was the only answer, he took that Death on Himself and redeemed us.  He provided another way!  God Himself had to become man to save us from something so vile, so evil, so integral to our very being ... the sin within us all.  God did that for us, because there was no other way but the death of us all.  

In the movie, Noah knew it.  And by watching him, I came to know it too - know it in the very core of my being.  I deserved death.  I should have died.  But Love Himself, Mercy Himself, came down and became a man Himself, to die for me.  To save me.  

While we were yet sinners ... while we were horrible, corrupt, evil -- all of us!! ... Christ died for us.  For you, for me.  He found another way.

And that is a Love so amazing, so divine, that it takes my breath away.  

That is the God I encountered in Noah ... not, perhaps, the God that the movie intended to show me, but in showing me just a glimpse of the reality of the sin within and how hopeless and helpless we are in the face of that sin within us all, I could not help but be overwhelmed with ...

and incredible

for what Christ has done for me.

So, if you go see Noah, I urge you to not go as an evaluator of what’s biblical and what seems far-fetched, but go as a God-hunter, a Truth-hunter.  Go with an eye to what our options really would be if it weren’t for Christ.  Go to see what God may whisper to you!  See if you can discover the wonder of Christ.


Cathy Gohlke said...

Marlo, I've read the reviews, pro and con, but have not seen the "Noah" movie. I don't care about the movie. I'm sorry it's not what we, as Christians, have craved seeing on the silver screen. We're all so ready for truly Biblical films that celebrate what God has done for mankind--for all of us. But, I must smile. What you've written here fills my soul with the wonder, awe and love of Jesus. Through your recounting of your experience from the movie I'm joyful today, reminded that nothing in this life is too great a challenge--it's all been taken care of on the Cross by our Lord who loves us--THIS MUCH! My sin, as dark and dank and putrid as it is, has been washed clean--not by a flood, but by the life-giving, precious blood of Jesus. Thank you for pointing us upward.

Marlo Schalesky said...

Thank you so much, Cathy!! Your response encouraged me so much -- that is exactly the reaction I was hoping for … for someone to catch that sense of wonder and joy at what Jesus has done for us. Bless you for sharing your reaction!

Leslie Leyland Fields said...

Marlo! Yes! Totally with you on this. It has taken me a few days to come to this, however. When I left the movie, I did not feel this way. I did not see the redemption----until later. But see it I did. Thank you for this!

Marlo Schalesky said...

Thanks, Leslie! I love the idea of finding God's truth, and rejoicing in it, wherever and whenever we can. And I so appreciated your thoughts. too, on what Noah got right.

Judy Morrow said...

Marlo, I always love reading your wise insights, and you certainly offered your wise words once again on this highly discussed topic of recent days. Thank you, and I join with you in "finding God's truth, and rejoicing in it, wherever and whenever we can." And what a perfect time--the season of Lent--to remind us to see anew the wonder of what Jesus has done for us. My gratitude grew in reading this.

Marlo Schalesky said...

Thanks, Judy! I am thinking much these last few days on how much I want to be a "God-hunter" in this life -- finding His wonder and beauty everywhere it can be found! That thought brings me a lot of joy. :-)