How to Share Your Faith Using The Simpsons Movie
Like other teens born in 1988, The Simpsons turned 18 this year, graduated, and moved out of the house - and into the movie theatre. As you'd expect, The Simpsons Movie follows in the footsteps of the long running TV sitcom, poking fun at many dimensions of life with a mix of satire and humor. Most everyone already has a decided opinion about The Simpsons, but love 'em or hate 'em, they have become part of the American landscape.
As the plot of the movie unfolds, Homer, true to form, has totally messed-up and unintentionally triggered a crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions. Once again Homer is a prime example of how to act impulsively, jump to hasty conclusions, behave crudely, and create a crisis as a result of his own ignorance. This time around things are so bad that even Homer's son, Bart, wants neighbor Ned Flanders (the sincere, devoted Christian), to be his dad, instead of Homer.
The Simpsons story lines often revolve around a clueless Homer, in the end, finally getting a clue. And while we shake our heads and wonder how he can be such a self-centered idiot, sometimes Homer's bluntness can capture a glimmer of truth. While Homer's comments are sometimes rude and crude, on occasion he steps up and says what others are thinking, but are too polite and politically correct to blurt out themselves. Sometimes Homer's comments serve as a mirror of our own raw, rough, confused thoughts.
Case in point, The Simpsons Movie has a scene where a distressed Homer is flipping through the Bible yelling, "This book doesn't have any answers!" We've all experienced times when we feel like the Bible is hard to understand and doesn't seem relevant to our lives. Or we've found ourselves in the midst of a crisis, angry at God and demanding that He do something to fix our problem now - just like Homer. We may not want to recognize ourselves in Homer's outrageous comments and behavior, but if we're honest, sometimes his comments capture a glimmer of the reality we live in.
What do you do with those kinds of feelings? And how do you help your unreached friends wrestle with those questions in their lives? Take a lesson from King David, the writer of Psalm 22, who experienced some of the same emotions and questions when he faced tough times. Check out this cry of his heart when things weren't rolling his way:
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.
(Psalm 22:1-2, NLT)
Know that when you feel like God is distant, it's OK to be honest with Him about what you're feeling. Talk to Him about it. Then do all you can to draw close to God through prayer, through His Word, and through His people, for he promises: "But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 4:29, NIV)
So whether you are offended or entertained by the Simpson crew, if you find yourself in conversations about the movie or TV show, look for ways to use Homer's sometimes clueless, sometimes brutally honest comments to talk about your faith in God. Here are some specific ideas to get the conversation headed toward God talk:
- Ask your friends if they've ever tried reading the Bible? Have they ever felt like Homer in the movie, complaining that the Bible doesn't have any answers? Do they think the Bible's hard to understand? Irrelevant to modern life? Use the opportunity to share with your friends and explain the 'big picture' of the story the Bible tells, using the GOSEPL Journey. And share from your personal experience about your relationship with Jesus, and how He has made the Good News about Jesus, found in the Bible, relevant to your life.
- Ask your friends if they believe in God. If they say yes, find out if He seems distant to them or close? Invite them to join you for youth group, so they can get to know more about what the Bible has to say about Him and take the journey with others who want to grow deeper with God. If they say no, ask if you can share what you believe about God.
- Bart thinks Ned Flanders would make a good dad. Ask your friends what they think of Ned Flanders? Is he a typical Christian? Is he sincere? Is he a hypocrite? What do you think of the way the movie depicts Christians?
- Talk about what makes a dad a good dad. Share that regardless of what your earthly father is like, God invites you to experience Him as your Heavenly Father.
Believe it or not, clueless Homer can be an opportunity for you to share your faith and to make sure your friends aren't clueless when it comes to understanding the Good News of God's love!