I watched “Slumdog Millionaire” tonight. Although I have seen it several times in the past I realized it is not just about a poor kid getting out of the slums and how wonderful that is . The film is an even deeper illustration of our lives in Christ and relationships.
It’s a film about a young man who grew up in the slums of Mumbai. Playing on India’s version of “Who wants to be a Millionaire”, as his correct answers and winnings mount, he’s suspected of cheating. The presupposition is that, of course, people from his caste, people from poverty, people from the slums, are…
It’s right here, when you answer that question, the movie becomes a commentary about the many “isms” that divide us, right here in America: racism, classism, sexism come to mind, though there are many more. The caste system has certainly created it’s own poverty in India, but it would be wrong for us to wave our educated hands, to pass judgment on the Indian culture and not take a much needed look in the mirror.
The reality is that all of us have expectations of others, based on gender, education, sexuality, clothing, skin color, political views, religious views and more. We pre-emptively close ourselves off from learning and friendship with some. We pre judge and categorize others as hopeless or judge them as people who have nothing to offer us or enrich our lives with. We build walls and fractions based on our perceptions of what is good, and in so doing make choices by completely different criteria than God’s. Building relational walls; instead of tearing them down.
Slumdog reminds me of the way God does things. Using the unexpected and rejected to change the world and spread His Word. The whole army is shaking while the shepherd, whose mission is to deliver some bread to them, takes down the giant enemy with a slingshot. The impoverished teen becomes pregnant with the life of God. When Jacob marries two women, it’s not the “hot” girl who is fertile; it’s the other one, the one who (the story implies) rarely shares her bed with her husband because, yes, he’s that shallow. Yet she gives him, in the end, six sons.
Not many wise. Not many rich. . I need to think about this, not only from the perspective of how I view others, but also how I view myself. I’ve taken myself out of relationships and contexts at various times because, frankly, I felt, “out of my league”. People with more money than me. Better looking than me. People with more education. Not wanting to feel small, I’d withdraw. This movie reminds me of the same thing that God says: Don’t withdraw! You have gifts. Use them. Your life experiences have created a context for you to make a different. Live with integrity and let me carve a path for you.
The Slumdog paradox is more than interesting conversation – it’s an illustration of the heart of the gospel, offering a life changing challenge to our isms and our withdrawal from God’s story due to our own feelings of inadequacy or our judgment of the inadequacy of others. We would be smart to at least consider how GOD would have us respond to all that he brings across our path, for our benefit, their benefit and maybe even Kingdome benefit. I wonder how many people GOD has brought into my life in the past that were even answers to prayer that in my shallow view I over looked? If I am honest with myself I know I have but thankfully there is grace and mercy and I am thankful for a GOD that uses all things, even an entertaining movie to open my eyes to truth.