In Defense Of War Room

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You know the guy. He’s the one who critiques the way that Stephen Curry, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, plays defense. And he has a few tips on how your mom could make her world famous sweet tea a little better. Oh, and he’s also the guy in class who asks questions that aren’t really questions but rather points of advice to the professor who has devoted the last 30 years of his life studying that particular topic.

You know the guy.

Well, that guy goes to the movies too. Most recently, he’s seen War Room, the Kendrick brothers’ latest film. And, guess what, he hates it.

I saw War Room last weekend. I’ve seen almost all of the movies the Kendricks have made. I haven’t walked away from one of those films thinking to myself, “Man, those Kendrick boys had better set aside some space on their shelf for an Oscar because that’s the greatest movie ever made.”

Their movies just aren’t my thing.

Neither are The Beatles. But I can still appreciate what they have brought to the table while switching to another station when they come on my radio. I think more Christians who like to play the part of the movie critic should take the same approach when it comes to the Kendricks and their movies.

Several years ago there was a guy who sporadically attended my church with his family. Eventually, he started coming regularly. One day he told me why. He had seen Courageous, another film by the Kendricks, and it inspired him to step up, be a man and lead his family.

What was I supposed to say to that?

“What a shame. You know the acting was bad and the writing was lazy in that movie. Meet me in my office tomorrow and we’ll watch The Matrix while sipping hot tea and discussing the finer points of cinematography. Your wife and kids will think me for it later. Trust me.”

I’m already hearing about married couples who are going on dates to see War Room and leaving the theater talking to each other about their marriage. Some of those couples haven’t been on a date or talked about their marriage since Hillary Clinton and her husband were running the country. If the Kendrick brothers do nothing else, they’ve made movies that married couples, friends and church groups go see together for a fun night of entertainment.

What’s wrong with that? Does every movie have to be Citizen Kane?

I’ve seen the movies and read the books that the self-appointed Christian art critics have put their stamp of approval on. They usually have two things in common. One, they’re boring. Two, no one else ever sees them.

War Room isn’t the greatest film ever made. But here’s the really cool thing about it. It’s better than the last movie the Kendricks made. And that one was better than the one before it. And while the Kendrick brothers have been doing what they do, other Christians have been making movies. Good movies. If you haven’t seen them yet, check out Mom’s Night Out and Believe Me. Both are funny and well done. And I dare say that neither one would exist if it weren’t for the Kendrick brothers leading the way.

There’s something funny about the critic. He likes to tell us what Stephen Curry did wrong but he doesn’t play the game himself. He knows how your mom’s sweet tea could be better but he gets tripped up on the boiling water stage. And he’s quick to jump in when everyone is piling on the latest piece of Christian art that fails to meet whatever the standards are for that day. But he’s not making his own.

A few days ago, I was watching my son practice soccer. He got in trouble. He was supposed to wait for the ball to get passed to his teammate and then get open for the ball to come to him. The problem with that plan was that the teammate was picking his nose. So my son ran over and stole the pass from his nose-picking teammate and started up the field. The coach blew the whistle and let my son have it. Later on, he did essentially the same thing. The coach stopped the drill and made my son pay the price.

After practice, I told my son that he had probably played his best soccer that day. He was confused. He didn’t really know why he had gotten into trouble. I told him that I would rather him get in trouble for being too active than for being lazy and sitting on the sidelines.

You never get yelled at on the sidelines. But you also never get to score.

Say what you want about the Kendrick brothers but at least they’re not on the sidelines. And as you say what you want about them, be careful, because while their particular brand of art might not reach your standards, it is still being used by God. So it just might be that the Kendricks really aren’t the ones you’re critiquing.

So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice. Acts 5:38-39 (ESV)

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