Seeing Is Believing

Movie clips can bring an extra sense of humanity to your small-group discussions.

I have a disease.
Thankfully it is treatable.
I became aware of my ill health while watching 'Patch Adams.' Towards the end of the movie, Robin Williams, as Patch Adams, fervently defends his actions as a medical student - actions that could have him thrown out of medical school. He was faulted for feeling, ridiculed for reaching out, and penalized for his passion. The medical board listened cautiously as he spoke these words that cut at their conscience, "Death is not the enemy. If we are going to fight a disease let's fight one of the most terrible diseases of all—indifference." As I listened to his impassioned words, I felt their sharp steel tip tear at my heart that had unknowingly grown cold. I suddenly became aware of my own awful ailment. As I cautiously took a look at my heart, the verdict was clear. I have often lived a life of indifference.

We had been studying the book of Matthew in our small group for several weeks. When I was preparing for our next meeting, the scriptures we would be discussing reminded me of this scene from 'Patch Adams' and how it had so profoundly tugged at my heart. During the next meeting, I played the clip from the movie that showed Patch Adam's defense before the medical board and then we read Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV), a portion of which reads:

[34] "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. [35] For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, [36] I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
[37] "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? [38] When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? [39] When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
[40] "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Our discussion questions were simple and to the point:

  1. Define indifference.
  2. In what ways was Patch Adams indirectly referring to MT 25:31-46?
  3. What is the personal challenge of the movie clip? What is the personal challenge of the scripture? How are they alike? How are they different?
  4. What is one thing you can do, starting today, to become less indifferent and more caring of Jesus and of those who are in need?

Remarkably, a lot of our discussion revolved around the movie clip. Not everyone had seen the movie, but the clip in and of itself was powerful and, most importantly, human. The clip put living, breathing human beings into a situation with which we could relate. Our senses were engaged. We heard Adams' impassioned plea; we saw his tears. We felt the shame as some on the medical board looked away when understanding fell hard on their conscience.

Do not hesitate to use movie clips during the Bible study portion of your small group meeting. When watching movies at home or in the theater, be sensitive to the message that is being communicated and even make some notes about how you can use the clip in a future lesson. Once you have decided to use a movie clip, be sure to:

  • Check with the host of your small group meeting to make sure he has a TV and a VCR or DVD (specifically ask for the one you need) and that they are available in a room where your whole group can comfortably view the clip.
  • Cue the videotape or know the scene selection on the DVD that you want to show before you arrive at the meeting.
  • Keep the clip under ten minutes, if possible. You want to emphasize one main point, not several.
  • Make sure that you ask specific discussion questions about the movie clip and how it relates to the truth of God's Word that you are studying.

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