Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Call to Grace

Why 'The Grace Card' Is the Best Recent Christian Movie
By: Esther J. Archer

The slew of Christian-themed movies hitting theaters in recent years has caused different reactions from moviegoers. Some of these movies are done well, and others make you walk away from the theater ashamed that you paid the price of admission and popcorn.

The Grace Card, in this author’s opinion, is the best film in this recent trend because it is authentic, and instead of throwing “God” in the face of the viewer, it displays God’s grace for all to see.

Mac McDonald's life is falling apart. His wife is seeing a counselor because of their marital and family issues, he was passed over for a promotion in the Memphis police department because of his attitude, and his son is using drugs and failing out of private school. Mac believes all of his problems started with the accidental death of his other son 17 years earlier, when he was hit by a suspect during a police chase.

What Mac does not realize is that bitterness and racism have been overtaking his heart and alienating him from those that love and care for him. To make matters even worse, he's forcibly partnered with the African-American man who received his promotion. Now they have to spend countless hours a day on patrol with each other.

Sam, an African-American minister, is an officer for the Memphis Police Department because his new church cannot afford to bring him on full time. His heart is torn between doing "the Lord's work" and the "worldly" job that allows him to pay the bills and feed his family. Now his new partner Mac is taking things out on him, and Sam has a crisis of faith. How can he as a representative of God, not only in the pulpit but in his daily life, hate his brother?

It confuses and hurts Sam that Mac’s hatred, distrust, and emotional detachment toward him are undeserved. Even when they are in pursuit of an armed gunman, Mac breaks protocol and goes it alone without Sam as backup.

Sam realizes that he acts “nice” towards Mac, but he knows his inner motivation is not love, so his niceness is of no lasting value. He considers quitting the force altogether and just trusting God to provide the money for his ministry, but he has no clear direction from God about whether he should leave. It takes a visit with his grandfather and a look at an old family document to shift Sam’s focus and start a chain reaction of grace.

The Grace Card may be a Christian movie, but it is one with great audacity. It does not tread lightly around issues of racism, forgiveness, and grace. This is a challenging movie for those on both sides of prejudice. It demonstrates that bitterness or wrong feelings toward anyone because of his or her ethnicity, personality, or beliefs is not acceptable behavior from a civilized human being, let alone a believer in God.

On the other side of the coin, it calls for those who have been wronged to forgive the offender and give grace, especially if the other person’s attitude is still seeped in sin and bitterness. If we only love those who like or love us, what use is our love to the world? We are called by Christ to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). However, most of the time we tend to respond in our flesh and return evil for evil.

The feel of this movie is authentic and simply perfect. Immediately, from the opening credits, you sense the Memphis blues feel in the air. The cinematography is beautiful and gritty, a mirror image of the city. The acting is a bit campy in parts, but Louis Gossett, Jr., as Sam's grandfather, gives the class and stability the movie needed to make it an excellent viewing choice. Watching the story unfold (with a few surprise twists!) was an enjoyable experience, leading me to strongly recommend it both for movie lovers and for those who love grace.

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