There was a movie made in 1977 with George Burns and John Denver titled “Oh God”. Although I saw it in the theater when it first came out and then again a 10 years later, it wasn’t until I watched it a few nights ago that I realized this movie is profoundly way ahead of its time in the “New Age” style theological message.
The movie is a comedy, a playful tongue-in-cheek romp on religion in general. Interspersed with clips of humorous wisdom and thought provoking sayings the primary message is truly timeless. It’s about an ordinary man named Jerry Landers (played by John Denver), a grocery store manager who is chosen by God Almighty (played by George Burns) to deliver a simple message to the people of the world.
The message is that he (God) is alive, he cares for us and that the world can work with what God's given us if we work together.
In other words, God wants Jerry Landers to tell the world that he cares, that he believes in human beings, and that everything is going to be fine if people do right by each other and take better care of the Earth.
It’s really simple and to the point. The true appeal of this film is the underlying theme that God cares for us and that we are in control of our lives, not God.
One of the valid points of this movie is that people in general tend to expect God to fit into their limited ways of perceiving him. We expect him to prove himself by miracles or playing the role of Mr. Fixit. Our attitude is “Let God do it”.
This film says that while God certainly does care about how we handle our lives on earth, but also, and this is the really important part, that we are responsible for what happens here.
When Jerry Landers asks God why he won't work some magic and solve all the world's problems God responds, "I gave you a world and everything in it." So Landers says "But we need help!" To which God replies, "That's why I gave you each other." We are to work together to solve the world’s problems, not wait around for God to step in with a miracle cure.
The Movie Succinctly Answers Some of
Life’s Toughest Questions
Why does God allow suffering in the world?
Long story short, the following brief interaction between the two lead characters sums it up neatly:
Jerry Landers: How can you permit all the suffering that goes on the world?
God: Ah, how can I permit the suffering?
Jerry Landers: Yes!
God: I don't permit the suffering. You do. Free will. All the choices are yours.
Jerry Landers: Choices? What choices?
God: You can love each other, cherish and nurture each other or you can kill each other. You're also turning the sky into mud. I look down, I can't believe the filth. Using the rivers for toilets, poisoning my fishes. You want a miracle? You make a fish from scratch. You can't! You think only God can make a tree? Try coming up with a mackerel. And when the last one's gone, that'll be that. Eighty-six on the fish, goodbye sky, so long world, over and out.
Free will. A favorite subject here at God’s Word First. God gave us free will to make our own choice and choose our own destiny. Anything less would make us as useless to God as a puppet on a string.
Does God hear your prayers?
Another fantastic point to take notice of is concerning prayer and free will.
Jerry Landers: People are always praying to you. Do you listen?
God: I can't help hearing. I don't always listen.
Jerry Landers: So then you don't care.
God: Of course I care! But what can I do?
Jerry Landers: What can you do? You're God!
God: Only for the big picture. I don't get into details.
The details are up to you. Free will. Live your life, make your choices. In the outcome, you can either enjoy life or deal with the consequences.
Why does God choose simple unassuming people to perform enormous tasks?
When the main character Jerry Landers was wondering why God chose him over others seemingly more qualified in religious matters, such as evangelists, priests, bishops or even the Pope. God answered in a very surprising way.
Jerry Landers: Why me?
God: Why not you?
Jerry Landers: You mean there's no special...
God: Life is a crap shoot, like the millionth customer that crosses the bridge gets to shake hands with the governor. You thought I picked you because you're better than everyone?
Jerry Landers: I'm not?
God: You're better than some but not as good as others, but you crossed the bridge at the right time.
Jerry Landers: I don't even go to any church!
God: Neither do I.
The script writers had a good point about God not being interested in religion. God looks on the heart, not on the religion. If more people would consider this concept and stop claiming that all of their actions are in God's name and that their religion is right while others are wrong, and that others will burn in hell for not believing in exactly what they believe… then maybe people would get along better and the world might come closer to moving forward in various arenas.
Why doesn’t God talk back when I talk (or pray) to him?
A lot of people pray to God and wonder if their prayers are being heard. Some wonder deep down inside if he even exists. After all, we’re doing all the talking and most of us are not hearing anything back, like in a conversation. It’s odd how others will more readily believe the devil exists and interacts with people but then scoff at the idea of God’s existence and human interaction.
God: Why is it so hard for you to believe? Is my physical existence any more improbable than your own? What about all that hoo-ha with the devil awhile ago from that movie? (Note: A reference to the 1973 movie titled “The Exorcist”.) Nobody had any problem believing that the devil took over and existed in a little girl. All she had to do was wet the rug, throw up some pea soup and everybody believed. The devil you could believe, but not God? I work in my own way. I don't get inside little children; they got enough to do just being themselves.
Also I'm not about to go around to every person in the world and say, 'Look it's me, I wanna talk to you.' So I picked one man. One very good man. I told him God lives. I live. He had trouble believing too, in the beginning. I understood. I'm not sure how this whole miracle business started, the idea that anything connected with me has to be a miracle. Personally I'm sorry that it did. Makes the distance between us even greater. But if a miracle helps you believe that I am who I say I am, I'll give you one. A good one.
God is willing and capable of speaking to your heart. You need to remember how to listen, cut through the chatter in your own mind and hear his voice in your heart. Well all knew how to do it instictively as childern. But somehow as adults we're forgotton how. God is also willing to prove himself to you through miracles, but in his own way and his own time, not yours. Be patient and open to experiencing that.
Final words of encouragement on having faith:
God: I know how hard it is in these times to have faith. But maybe if you could have the faith to start with, maybe the times would change. You could change them. Think about it. Try. And try not to hurt each other. There's been enough of that. It really gets in the way. I'm a God of very few words and Jerry's already given you mine. However hopeless, helpless, mixed up and scary it all gets, it can work. If you find it hard to believe in me, maybe it would help you to know that I believe in you.
Finer words are seldom spoken in the movies, especially these days.
To sum it all up: Let’s try to get along better, have faith in God and in yourself to improve. God believes in you. And try to keep it simple. God’s ways are not complicated. Man makes it hard. God chooses the base things of the world to humble the proud. (1 Cor 1:26-29)
Do unto others as you would have done unto you, and love those who care for you. Take personal responsibility for your free will actions and for the impact you have on the world around you. If we all did a little bit more of that, then life would be more fulfilling and the world would be a better place for everyone.
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