Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Cost of Being God's Friend

In light of the buzz that has been going on about what it means to have a personal relationship with God and my recent post about theological understanding being displayed in life, this quote I came across in Christianity Today is timely:

To speak of friendship with God can sound so cozy and consoling, as if we are all snuggling up to God; however, there is no riskier vulnerability than to live in friendship with God, because every friendship changes us, because friends have expectations of each other, and because friends are said to be committed to the same things. … Any friend of God is called to faithfully embody the ways of God in the world, even to the point of suffering on account of them. There may be grace and glory in being a friend of God, but there is also clearly a cost. Paul J. Wadell, Becoming Friends
This World Magazine cover story about Christians seeking to be faithful while working in Hollywood, illustrates such costly friendship:
"I will never be home for dinner at 5:30 p.m.," says one of the most successful Christians in Hollywood, Ralph Winter. "In Hollywood, 5:30 is when things are just getting started."
Mr. Winter produced X-Men, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek IV, and this summer's hit, Fantastic Four. But behind the blockbusters are family separation and heartaches. A shoot in Puerto Rico meant being away from his teenage sons for six months. A filming in London coincided with news that his wife's father had died, tragically. He did not go home. "I cannot believe how selfish I was," he said, "how unfeeling I was about her ongoing grief and depression. I was caught up in the excitement of Hollywood and the possibilities of my own career."
Soon after, Mr. Winter was offered a career plum: the chance to direct a new James Bond movie. But production was going to be in England. He realized what his career was doing to his family. He turned down what seemed like the career opportunity of a lifetime—the chance to play with Mr. Bond's weaponized sportscar, exotic locales, and special-effects-driven chase scenes—to devote his time to his wife and kids.
That decision meant he was out of work for six months. Mr. Winter learned that doing the right thing doesn't mean you won't suffer for it. But he was angry at God. Today he sees that God was at work all along. He finally got a chance to work close to home—and with Steven Spielberg, an opportunity he never would have had if he had been filming James Bond in London.
Today, Mr. Winter zealously sets aside time for his family. He also stresses the importance of his church, Bible study, and accountability partners. Without them, he could not remain spiritually and mentally grounded.
The article goes on to explain Winter's involvement as a mentor in Act One, a non profit organization that trains Christians for careers in film and television. Here's how they describe their mission:
Stressing artistry, excellence, professionalism, and spirituality, Act One prepares students to be "salt and light" in writers rooms, on sets, and in studio and network offices. Our goal is not to produce explicitly "religious" entertainment, but movies and TV programs of unusual quality and depth.
I'm always encouraged to see efforts of vocational discipleship like this; people asking and answering questions like "What does being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ look like in this particular sphere?" and "How do I think Christianly about my line of work?" A certain popular Christian book taught believers to pray "Expand my borders." I think the borders that stand in need of being expanded are those of our narrowly-defined conceptions of discipleship. Groups like Act One can aid us toward that end.

The members of Act One have also written a book - Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture.

No comments: