Slumdog Millionaire and Religion Wars

No doubt about it - Slumdog Millionaire is a film that people have taken notice of. As the winner of 4 Golden Globe awards and nominee of 10 Academy awards, it has caused mixed feelings across the globe - folks seem to either love it or hate it.

I guess the love comes from the 'rags to riches' storyline that intrigues all of us who occasionally daydream about getting on a game show like Who Wants to be a Millionaire and making enough serious bank to never worry about finances again.

Or perhaps the semi-worship of Slumdog lies in the 'boy finds girl at all costs' sort of thing. After all, doesn't every guy want to rescue a lady in distress? Isn't there a desire to be valued and liberated in the heart of every woman?

So yeah, cool plot line, action, adventure, romance - and (in my mind) perhaps a more deserving winner than The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a.k.a. 'Forrest Gramps.'

Then there are the haters of Slumdog Millionaire. Why? Well it really isn't a film thing, plot thing, or even an acting thing.

It's a religious thing. Slumdog apparently portrays Hindus and Muslims in a 'negative' light. There are scenes of religious riots in the slums of India where people are killed in the name of a conviction… and it appears that this doesn't settle well on either side of the 'my god can beat up your god' conflict that rages all over the planet even as you are reading this.

I have a friend who tells me all the time that the world would be better off without religion. That the bad parts of religion outweigh the good and it is simply a power play for the powerful to control the weak.

And I agree. Religion wars are the shame of planet earth and religion is simply mankind's unsuccessful attempt to earn back a right relationship with the Creator God of the Universe.

That's why Jesus Christ was so harsh with the religious people of His time. Check out His view of the folks who used the name of God to chase their own agenda:

"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people's faces. You won't go in yourselves, and you don't let others enter either.

"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law - justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs -beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people's bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

"Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?" (Matthew 23:13-15;23-24;27-28;33).

What do you think? Picking up Jesus' disgust with religious hypocrisy? Which is exactly why Jesus came to earth to fulfill the most difficult truth in the universe: one must be perfect to enter heaven.

Not religious, not good, not even a decent person. God's standard is perfection, which is why our attempt to reconcile with God through religion will never work.

But here is the best part. Jesus lived a perfect life to earn a way for us to go to heaven. He paid the ultimate price on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead to prove to the world that He is God. All we need to do is trust in the Person of Jesus Christ to take us to heaven on His merit and not ours.

In other words, Biblical Christianity is all about a relationship, not a religion. I know we get lumped in with all the religions of the world but hopefully you now know that every other faith belief is about 'doing' - do this, do that, and you *might* make it to heaven. Christianity is all about 'done' - Jesus has already paid it all and all people on earth can obtain eternal life simply by trusting in Him for salvation.

In a way, Christianity is just like Slumdog Millionaire. Jamal could have worked his whole life and never earned a million dollars but because he had the right knowledge and acted on it, he received the reward as a gift.

God wants you to go from spiritual rags to riches. Put your faith in Christ for salvation, and you'll never know spiritual poverty again!

Flashpoint: Ignite into Action

Most people think of Christianity as being in the same category as other religions. This week, talk to your friends about the uniqueness of trusting in a Person for salvation vs. following a set of rules.

Accelerant: Feed the Fire

But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it… (Romans 4:5-6).

I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die (Galatians 2:21).

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (Ephesians 2:8-9).