(Note from Timothy: Originally published on September 15, 2010).
Many of you may remember the early, 1970s film entitled The Godfather starring Al Pacino and Marlon Brando. The movie is a classic because it delves into the Mafia underworld. It is so close to the Mafia underworld that at the time the movie was being filmed, there were threats on the filmmakers because they didn’t want their world being exposed. That changed after one of the producers opened the door from one of the crime bosses to read the script and offer, ahem, technical assistance (see Jesse Jackson and corporate shakedown).
The movie is a great example of what happens when sin goes unrestrained. You have every manner of sin being delved into by those who believe they live in a protected world due to the fact that Godfather Don Corleone has all the judges in his back pocket. That is how Michael can gun down one of the mob bosses and a police captain and get away with it. When you own those who are charged with keeping the law, then you can keep them from using the law against you.
The movie’s popularity is due to the fact that it does appeal to our sin nature. We want to be in control of the world in which we live and The Godfather shows us a world where the Don controls a good portion of his own world. Of course, he has to use intimidation, fear, the threat of having your favorite pet’s head severed and dumped in your bed over night, death, etc., in order to control that world. But wouldn’t we love to control our world in such a way?
Just think if we applied such tactics in the church. Whenever a member got out of line, we would just send over Deacon Luca Brasi to take care of the problem. “Hey Vinny, you don’t a tithe, we give away your pew to the Leone brothers.”
“Hey Gertrud, you been gossiping about the Don, er, pastor again. You stoppa or we send your dog Fiffy to sleep wit da fishes.”
But alas, Christ doesn’t have us act in such a manner. He wants us to live completely opposite to the world of The Godfather. Where the world says “look out for number one,” Jesus says to die to ourselves and put others first. After all, that is what He did for those who believe in Him. He said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus loved us with a self-sacrificing love. This is diametrically opposed to the world of The Godfather.
Now some might say that Michael Corleone is a Christian. After all, he confessed his faith in Jesus Christ while his nephew was being baptized by the priest. You remember the scene? It’s the scene where they keep flashing back and forth from the baptism, to the the assassination of the mob bosses like Moe Greene or Don Emilio Barzini. Hardly fruits of the Spirit. Again, a microcosm of how the world likes to live. On the one hand, they want to control their world and have what they want. On the other hand, they want cheap religion and a pass into eternal bliss with Jesus Christ. Which is odd. Since they never desired to bend the knee on this side of eternity, why do the want to spend all of eternity with Christ in the first place?
But the point is that if we want eternal bliss with the Savior, that means we have to die to ourselves and our desires for our world to be as we want it to be. We cannot have a Godfather world, and the heaven of Christ as well. It is either one or the other, but not both.
I’m glad I watched the movie again. A friend once said it is good to watch movies and read books that you read and watched before you were a believer again as a believer. I did that with The Godfather. I know I loved it as a non-believer. But as a believer, I really have no desire to watch it again. It’s the picture of a world I want nothing to do with and I’m glad the Lord spared me from fulfilling my own desires in like manner. Not my will, or the Godfather’s will, but His be done.