about the life of Lee Strobel, and his transformation from hard-nosed investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune, to becoming a follower of Jesus.
THE CASE FOR CHRIST, at times, seems a bit over-the-top. But then, to be fair, it shows a very topsy-turvy part of Strobel's life so some melodrama is going to be part of the telling. Overall, THE CASE FOR CHRIST does a great job chronicling Strobel's journey. And leaves it up to the viewer as to the preponderance of evidence for the Resurrection.
I left the theater with two major take-aways:
I wanted to know more about Leslie Strobel, Lee's wife.
As portrayed in the film, she finds Jesus first and, more importantly, remains steadfast in her convictions despite dealing with her husband's almost two-year long mission to discredit her faith. (The majority of the film focuses on that timeframe). Between Leslie's acceptance of Christianity and Lee's he was a confirmed atheist. He was anything but understanding and oftentimes quite belligerent in his insistence that God, and Jesus, in particular, were a hoax.
After viewing the film, I considered Leslie to be the anchor of her family. The one, who, by example, led her husband to believe in God and Jesus. By the way, during Lee's period of investigating the couple already had a four year old with another child on the way.
Ironically, in an interview on Pure Talk, Leslie said, that, after she prayed the "Sinner's Prayer" with her neighbor Linda, she was unsure for about a year if she was "saved" or not. "I just didn't believe that it took," she explains.
Regardless of whatever was happening in her heart or spirit, outwardly, she continued to pray for her husband and extend mercy to him during a time when Lee, by his own telling, often came home drunk and angry. Perhaps out of frustration that his investigation into disproving the validity of Jesus wasn't bearing any fruit.
Things got so bad between them that it got to the point where Lee flat-out told his wife that he didn't see them staying together if she didn't change her tune.
She didn't. But he did. Eventually giving up his quest and turning to God. (In the film, there's a scene where Lee stands in front of a giant whiteboard, filled to the brim with questions and clips of information about Jesus. He raises his hands in the air and says, "OK God. I give up!")
I walked out of the theater lobby wanting to know more of Leslie's story. Even if it's not as dramatic as her husband's there is definitely something there worth exploring.
In an interview for a Jesus Calling podcast, Leslie said, "I just wanted to be a mom and raise kids." Her own transition to becoming a Christian was almost uneventful, in comparison to Lee's, which was much more of an intellectual exercise. "For me it was relational," she said. "It was never a question of needing any facts or proof."
She sums up, "It's been such a privilege and honor to be used by God. To have our story touch hearts."
|Leslie & Lee Strobel|
Which brings me to a second and final take-away, not necessarily linked to the film, but definitely nudged by it.
Why don't we hear more about women in ministry and their own faith journeys in mainstream Christian media? (I realize there has been great breakthrough in this area, at least in America, over the past 20 years, but it seems a lot more could be done).
Having just celebrated Easter, it bears repeating that it was women who first encountered the risen Jesus.
All four Gospel writers agree.
Matthew names Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" going to the tomb. (Matt. 28.1). Mark mentions Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Solome (Mark 16.1). Luke records "the women" went to the tomb, and later mentions Mary Magdalene, Jonnna, and Mary the mother of Jesus as being there. And John tells us that it was Mary Magdalene who first encountered the risen Jesus
So, in a culture that was men-centric, it's very significant that four male writers record that it was women who first spread the word about the Resurrection.
Years later the apostle Paul wrote: "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (1 Corinthians 15:14).
For us, living in the 21st Century, this fact might not seem like much, but for the time in which Jesus was living, it turned the culture upside down.
Women had no rights. Were seen as men's property. Were not given leadership positions.
But yet Jesus and God chose to ignite the beginnings of what became the Christian Church by and through women. You could almost make another case: That if it weren't for the women among Jesus' followers, we might not be following Jesus now.
Here's the trailer for THE CASE FOR CHRIST.
Photo Credit: top, Pure Flix