Utopia, Conviction, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

I recently watched Seven Days in Utopia with my family. While the film won’t win any oscars (it’s basically the movie Cars told with human characters and using golf as the foil rather than Nascar), the movie was a delight. It communicated several important life lessons while pointing the viewer to a hope beyond the grave. Here’s an overview of the film in 3 minutes:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the scene (shown in the video above) between Luke Chisolm (played by Lucas Black of Friday Night Lights fame) and Johnny Crawford (played by Robert Duvall) where Crawford tells Chisolm that he needs “to find some conviction.” In other words, it “just feels good” is not reason enough to hold a golf club a certain way — and it’s certainly not reason enough to live a certain way. And that’s the point.

In life we need conviction.

Why do you live the way you do? Why do you believe what you believe? Do you have solid reasons or do you just find yourself meandering through life thinking little, if at all, about where you’ll end up?

The apostle Paul speaks to this all-too-common life course when he exhorts Christians to run the race of life with conviction:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:24-27). 

In my work as a pastor I see many professing Christians running aimlessly through life. Rather than have a clear target in view, they appear to be beating the air. And it’s leaving them hopeless. Paul points to a better way, the way of a disciplined athlete who has a fixed gaze on the prize. (Can you imagine Usain Bolt training aimlessly?)

The prize for the Christian is Jesus Christ and conformity to Him. Indeed, this is the reason we were saved, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29). Therefore, we sing (and strain) with the apostle when he writes,

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14).  

Johnny Crawford was right when he told Luke Chisolm that “the first step is to find some  conviction.” And Christians, of all people, should have conviction because we run not to receive a perishable wreath, but an imperishable. Now that’s Utopia.

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