Thursday, January 2, 2014

Grudge Match

The Healing Power of Forgiveness
By Jan McClure

Movie Review of
Grudge Match
Director: Ken Scott
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin

I have to admit I really wasn’t excited about seeing this movie.  I thought that all the funny parts would have been shown in the trailer.  I was wrong.  There were plenty of funny moments in the movie.  Many were “old people” jokes, which I found quite humorous.  Having two young adult daughters, I get teased quite often, and it was nice not to be the brunt of the jokes.
This film is rated PG-13 and there is some offensive language used. 

The movie portrays two Pittsburgh fighters who scored a victory against each other back in the 80’s when they were in their prime.  On the eve of the match that was to be the deciding factor, Henry “Razor” Sharp (played by Sylvester Stallone) had called off the fight against Billy “the Kid” McDonnen (played by Robert De Niro).   Thirty years later, Dante Slate Jr. (played by Kevin Hart) contacts each of them to use their image in a video game.

When they meet, they are full of anger, and a brawl begins.  It is caught on camera and goes viral on YouTube.  Many jokes are made about how these two don’t even know what going viral means. 

It made me think about how many acts are now caught on tape. And reflecting on how Jesus came at the particular moment in time that God chose for his perfect plan, I wondered:  What if Jesus had been caught on tape?  Would some of his miracles have gone viral?  The YouTube at that time were the apostles and the disciples of Christ who had seen the miracles and who spread the news by word of mouth.  We probably would say it was all fake if we saw the miracles on YouTube today. 

As the characters in the film tried to get back in shape, I could relate to this.  I have aches and pains and the realization that as we age we just don’t recover fast anymore, yet through perseverance we can increase our fitness level. I think of my spiritual life in the same manner.  I must “work out” daily in order to maintain a level of spiritual fitness that enables me to walk the walk of a Christian.  Without the daily training, the devil would be able to “punch” me a lot more often than he does. 

Holding a grudge was the main plot of the film.   This grudge had lasted 30 years.  Razor had walked away from what he loved – boxing and a girl – in order to hurt The Kid.  As the movie’s plot progresses, he realizes how much he missed out on life because of that. He also figures out that forgiveness could have changed the direction of his life. 

His lack of forgiveness is evident in many of his relationships in the film. It had led to many lives full of regret.  The characters wish that they had done things differently.  That is a lesson to us all.  

Our lives here on earth are just a blink in time when compared to eternity.  We have such a short time to get to know God, to love Him and to serve Him.  Our God so lovingly gave us the Word made flesh, so that we have a Savior that shows us how to live the life we were made for.  If we stay on this path, our lives will not be full of regrets.  However, due to the human condition, we all fail, but through repentance we can get back on that path before our time runs out.  What a loving God we have!

Razor did just that and got a second chance.  The movie also portrays how sin doesn’t just harm one’s own self, but rather it has domino effect.  The Kid was mending his relationships, but then he fell into his old ways again and everything started to fall apart again.  He recognized the errors of his ways and did ask for forgiveness, and he too got a second chance. 

Having a background in counseling, I am interested in the research.  Scientific studies are now revealing how forgiveness plays such an important part in therapeutic processes.  Jesus told us this truth over two thousand years ago.  This film shows the brokeness that grudges yield, and the peace that forgiveness brings. 

Questions for youth groups, families, and other small group discussions (and we hope you will post a comment below!):
  1. In what ways does forgiveness heal?
  2. How does our personal sin effect others?  Can you think of an example in your own life?
  3. Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? 
  4. Is forgiveness a feeling or a choice?

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