OK, so every Christian youth worker is gonna be using clips from this movie but hey! As you probably know, there are some dodgy parts to this movie. They are totally unnecessary as far as I see. swearing where there could easily be none for example. Why the need?
1. Every action has a consequence. When Bruce becomes God, he has great power. But with this comes a great responsibility, and one he doesn't initially see.
Bruce gets the opportunity to be all-powerful in his area. One night he tugs down the moon in a romantic gesture to his girlfriend. She appreciates it. However, next day Bruce's girlfriend (not knowing about Bruce's powers) watches the news and finds that due to strange lunar activity, there have been floods in another part of the world. On another occasion., he simply answers 'yes to all' people's prayers and this ends up causing havoc in Buffalo as thousands of people 'win' the lottery and go on the rampage when their money is withheld.
Jesus said that whoever has a lot will have a lot expected from them. If God gifts us we must use it, we should submit that gift wholly to God, use that gift for God and use it wisely. God may withdraw the gift or anointing.
2. Does God answer prayer? How? This is a question that has confused and frustrated people throughout time. When 'God' speaks to Bruce in the movie, he tells Bruce that exercising power is not as easy as it seems. Nor is answering prayer.
It's very surprising how many people pray or call out to an unseen God, especially in times of crisis. Even the hardened pagan may call out to God when their life is in danger. The movie shows Bruce's girlfriend praying for him regularly. Quite amazing in a secular movie. (Still, I'm not completely convinced about her being a real disciple of Jesus as she's living and sleeping with Bruce!) Still, we also see that millions of prayer requests come in from across the city of Buffalo each day. Imagine what it is like worldwide! Billions of prayers ascending to the throne room of God every day!!
So does God answer prayer? When God doesn't, why? Of course, we know God answers prayer but we need to check our motivation, check our hearts so we aren't deliberately sinning, understand that God's answers prayer in different ways to how we expect, sometimes God says no, many times we don't see the answers, other times we just don't know or understand.
3. Free will. In the movie, 'God' limits the use of Bruce's gift, both geographically and he tells Bruce that he can't mess with people's free will. When Bruce tries to make his girlfriend love him at one stage, he fails. No amount of 'powers' will help.
The Lord God (the real God that is!) gives us free will. He gives us the choice to accept him or reject him. OK, so if God's hand is on our lives, God may eventually draw us to him but how is our choice. Other times we can walk away from God in our Christian lives and God loves us enough to allow us to do this, usually until we see the stupidity of trying to live without and for God!
4. God's character. What is God like? Is he like Morgan Freeman who plays 'God' in the movie? Does God have a shiny white suit, live in a white building, have a sense of humour? God is a distant being sitting on a fluffy cloud right?! How do we know what God is like? Well, the Bible tells us to look at Jesus. Colossians 1.15 says Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Want to know more about God? Look at Jesus. Like Morgan Freeman, God does have some neat tricks, he does have a sense of humour, he has great wisdom and power, he cleans the floors, mends the lights. But God is so much more.
Many people ask where is God? Well, apart from being revealed through his Word, the Bible, God is in many places. The Bible says God is demonstrated (and even proved) in his creation. We see the character of God in the life of Jesus. We also see glimpses of his character in the work of his people, the church - fired by the turbine engine that is the Holy Spirit.
5. Notice how God is present in the movie as man! There's a parallel here with the life of Jesus - his ministry was and is one of personal involvement in personal lives.
How would it change your relationship with God if you talked to him as if he was there with you as a friend in the flesh? (Don't take this too far, talking to your 'friend' on the bus will result in disturbed looks from people who will shift away from you whispering, 'he's crazy')
6. In one classic line in the movie, God says to Bruce, 'That's the problem with people, they keep looking upwards.' What do you think 'God' meant when he said this. Discuss!
7. Of course, we see Bruce asking God for 'a sign'. A truck then appears with loads of signs on it. And many other 'signs' proving that God is actually talking to Bruce. He's asking God for a sign, but he's not listening to God's response. Time after time, God has spoken to him without him hearing, or even waiting for a response. Eventually, it gets very painful as he gets hit by a truck!!
The people of Israel wandered around the desert for 40 years. This was a journey that should have taken weeks, not years. But they went round in circles, not listening to God and not obeying him. We can be like this too. We can pray but not listen. We can miss God because of our busy-ness. We can ask God without hearing or even wanting to hear. God may try to be getting your attention today. Are you listening? Will you respond?
8. Selfishness. Essentially, Bruce is incredibly selfish. He wants the anchor man job. It's all about him. Even when his girlfriend tries to be supportive, he takes it badly, only thinking of himself. It drives him mad that his colleague becomes the anchorman and not him. His resentment, anger, frsutration, selfishness is so much that he blows it, live on air. He gets fired. Even then he messes up. Not content with helping someone being beaten up, he goes too far and arrogantly shouts taunts at the gang. They then return and beat him up, not surprisingly!
After Bruce has his near-death experience and talks to God, he returns a reformed character. What a difference God makes in the life of people - totally transforming them, turning them around and right way up! In this part of the movie, Bruce begins to love people (not just use and abuse them), he is genuinely happy about the success of others. In turn, his life becomes happier.
The Bible makes it clear that we are to serve people and that serving brings much more joy than taking. How is God challenging and asking you to change, today?