Monday, July 23, 2012

What's the Big Idea?

When I first heard the Farrelly Brothers were making a modern version of The Three Stooges, I was less than enthusiastic. I thought, "What's the big idea? How can you make a Three Stooges movie without any of the original Three Stooges?" But after the trailer showed that the new Stooges looked and sounded a lot like the originals, curiosity got the best of me, and I had to see it!

The New Three Stooges © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
The new Three Stooges ©

Well, like a slap in the face, I was completely amazed by what I saw! Although I was still skeptical going in, I found the whole thing to be a pleasant surprise that stayed very much in the spirit of the originals while bringing in new material. If you liked the old Stooges, I imagine you'll like the new ones, too!

Of course, the characters are only part of what makes a good movie. The other part comes in story - without a good story, it's just three grown men beating each other up - and thankfully, this story has a lot more to say than just, "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!"  

The Three Stooges actually speaks to us about how to be a better church!

The main message is about family. At first, Larry, Moe, and Curly don't seem to have a family, as they're left in an orphanage at the beginning of the movie, but they are the best of friends. Early on, when Moe has the chance to be adopted, he doesn't want to leave his buddies behind. Then later, when the news comes that the orphanage may have to be shut down, the three boys are the first to step up and volunteer to do something to save it. We see that the concept of family is not limited to our biological relatives. Larry, Moe, and Curly are family for each other; and the nuns and the kids at the orphanage, they are family for the Stooges, as well.

When people need a place to belong, we as the Church need to own our identity as a family (Matthew 12:48-50). We need to welcome folks and love them and nurture them. Especially when we read verses like Psalm 139:13-18 and Jeremiah 29:11, we should be reminded that God created all of us, and he loves us and has a purpose for us. We should hear the echo of the kids singing at the beginning of our movie - "Everybody is special, not inconsequential" - and we should be moved to compassion.

"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. 
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, 
if you have love for one another."
- John 13:34-35

But all too often - like the Stooges - instead of demonstrating love, we fight amongst ourselves. Without giving too much away, let me say the movie does a good job illustrating the many things that can come between us. Sometimes we allow other people to separate us, sometimes we are driven apart by our circumstances, and sometimes we are divided because of misunderstandings or pride. But we must learn to overcome these obstacles and work together. After all, who wants to be a part of a family that can't get along? And how can we claim to be carriers of the love of God if we cannot love one another?

"Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; 
for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, 
cannot love God whom they have not seen."
- 1 John 4:20

If we ever want our family to grow, we must show love, both for outsiders and for each other. People in families are supposed to watch out for one another. They should care about one another and pray for each other. They should celebrate together and grieve together and help one another in times of need. I can't count the number of times I've been uplifted by my church family or I've joined them in lifting up another family member. People want to be a part of a family like that, because that's the way it should be, and that's the way I hope it is for you and your family.

"And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, 
but encouraging one another, 
and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
- Hebrews 10:24-25

The great thing about the family of God is that anyone who really wants to be a part of this family is welcome! In fact, the very reason Jesus came here was to welcome people into God's family (Hebrews 2:10-11; John 1:12). God is happy to adopt us as his own. And while the movie reminds us clearly that adoptive human parents are flawed (just like biological parents), I am thankful that A) God is a much better parent than any human can hope to be, and B) the movie continues to show adoption in a positive light. God cares for orphans (Psalm 68:5-6), and he expects us to follow in his example (James 1:27).

"[This couple has] just discovered that our Lord and Savior has left her barren, 
so they have decided to adopt!"
- Mother Superior in The Three Stooges 

God does not make mistakes. He doesn't make a mistake when a child is born who doesn't seem to fit in or whose parents are unable to raise him/her. He still loves that child and those parents, and he still has a good plan for them. And God doesn't make a mistake when he provides families that are beyond biological. Those families - whether legally adoptive or a close association of friends or others who share similar experiences with us - are there as a reminder that there is a better Father who loves us and a higher Family that invites us.

May we learn to put aside our differences and be a better example of a loving family, that when others look at us, they'll want to be a part of what we have! Let's SPREAD OUT and share God's love everywhere we're able!

That's the big idea!

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