The characters in the film Unconditional know a thing or two about pain. Samantha tragically lost her husband to a senseless act of street violence. Joe's promising professional career was cut short by a prison sentence and severe kidney disease. Young Macon deals with the perils and temptations of inner-city life without the guidance of parents. And his little sister Keisha hasn't spoken in years due to some earlier trauma. Yet God finds a way to let his love shine in the darkest places, and in unexpected ways.
This study explores the hardships of these core characters from Unconditionalwrestle with, noting how their lives are changed for the better after they come together through happenstance. As Christians, we're not promised a life of safety and security here on earth. But we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, demonstrating God's constant and unchanging love to those we encounter.
• Movie Summary
• Discussing the Scenes
1. Joe: The Humble Hero of Love
(Proverbs 11:2; 18:12; Luke 14:7–11; Ephesians 6:10–18)The movie quickly establishes Joe as a selfless man who puts the needs of others ahead of his own. Getting to know him through the various flashbacks, however, we discover that Joe wasn't always that way. As a child, he dealt with racism and absentee parents by getting into fights at school. As an adult, he allowed pride to sidetrack his life. Yet God used all of that to bring Joe closer to him at a time of complete brokenness. As a child, Joe dreamt of becoming a kind of warrior hero to protect the innocent. As an adult, that dream came true in ways he never could have expected.
2. Samantha: Overcoming Grief with Love
(John 12:24–26; 1 Corinthians 13; John 13:34–35)Samantha is the character who resonates most in Unconditional. We grieve with her from the start after learning of the tragedy that killed her husband, Billy. We empathize with her pain and loneliness as she considers suicide. And we cheer when she does the right thing by helping two young strangers on a dark, rainy night. But that's only the first ten minutes. From there Sam must choose between returning to the seclusion of her sorrow and making the effort to love others. She must also choose between remaining stagnant or rebooting her career as an author. And most importantly, she must choose between thirsting for justice and loving through forgiveness. As such, while Samantha may be the main character, if it weren't for the opportunities to show love to everyone else around her, she would be nothing (1 Cor. 13:3).
3. Macon and Keisha: Love for the Loveless
(James 1:22–27; Matthew 25:34–45)At first, we might be inclined to think of Macon and Keisha as passive recipients of love in this movie. And in many ways, that's true. They're certainly in need of help with no parents in their lives. Keisha hasn't spoken in years and is struck by a car. Macon is a bratty troublemaker, seemingly destined to become involved with gangs and crime. Yet after all is said and done in Unconditional, not only are the brother and sister's lives changed by love—their lives changes other lives in return through love.
• As the Credits Roll
Unconditional (Veracity Moving Pictures, 2012), directed by Brent McCorkle, rated PG-13
Photo © Copyright Veracity Moving Pictures