Summary: To truly accept God’s love, we must learn to love ourselves as well as others.
Family, Love, and Grace
I. On the surface Madea’s Family Reunion is comedy about family and love. For families to survive love is necessary and crucial. It may be a cliché but what the world needs now is love. What the family needs now is love. What the church needs now is love. In fact, when I dissect the movie, Madea’s Family Reunion, one can almost say that it is a metaphor for some of today’s churches. From a distance the world sees a large establish group of people gathered at a meal, sharing pleasant conversation, having fun, and trying to enjoy each other’s company. But beneath the surface it is a community, a family, spiraling out of control with a generation of children who are disrespectful; women with no self-respect that they are willing to do anything and be with anyone just to say they are loved; men who are criminally suspect not taking care of their paternal obligations or lacking the skills necessary to be role models for young men. From a distance the religious community gathers using illusive conversation about loving each other, but in reality many of the lives we lead are spiraling out of control because we are struggling with love.
II. We may be like little Nikki (Keke Palmer) who is a child that’s been shifted from foster home to foster home, told that she would never be nothing, would always do nothing, and is about nothing. She like many of this generation is struggling to love her enough to believe that she can learn anything, be anything, and do anything in spite of the neglect comments from previous guardians, peers, and adversaries. She reminds us that we still owe this generation some constructive, strong guidance rather than negative criticism.
III. We may be live the character Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) who is a beautiful single mom whose romantic bad luck has made her wary of men. Even a man as nice and good-looking as Brian (Boris Kodjoe), a friendly bus driver who keeps asking her for a date ye, due to her negative experiences with men she struggles to trust enough to love them again. She reminds us that we all have baggage when we come to relationships.
IV. We may be like the character, Lisa (Rochelle Aytes) whereby we struggle with loving ourselves enough not to settle for pretentious false affections and abusive toxic relationships. You see, Lisa is engaged to the handsome, wealthy Carlos (Blair Underwood who’s the kind of man who gives her everything: expensive jewels, cars, clothes and flowers, along with welts, black eyes, and bruises. She wants to call the wedding off, but her scheming, selfish, social-climbing mother Victoria (Lynn Whitfield) won’t hear of it. "You must stop doing whatever you’re doing to make him angry," is her helpful suggestion. Lisa reminds us that even in today’s modern society, many women are being beaten by husbands and boyfriends. Nearly 1/3 of women in America report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. That’s one out of three women has experienced physical or sexual abuse by a husband or boyfriend at some point in her life. In a national survey, it was reported that 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children. Domestic violence can affect anyone regardless of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, religion, sexual orientation, or educational background.
V. What turns this family around is the words of wisdom that are share by the matriarchs portrayed by Cicely Tyson and Maya Angelou who both asks the family one rhetorical question “Do you know who are?”
a. Some times understanding yourself involves seeing yourself from another perspective. Paul talks about a man who was taking up to the third heaven. Above the troposphere, the stratosphere, to what may have been regarded as the ‘mesosphere and ionosphere’. This is where the earth’s aurora takes place. It’s where the photons from the sun are absorb and one …
b. But maybe it was at that level whereby this man (be it Paul himself or someone else) could see humanity from a larger perspective. Maybe what he saw was what God saw. That from a distance we are a garden of roses of many colors and sizes. But roses have thorns. Beautiful yet painful at times to touch. For each of us a “thorn in the flesh” may bring either emotional or physical pain.
VI. What is this love? It is one of Grace (claris) is a Greek concept which summarizes the gospel in a single word. Augustine came up with three categories of grace:
a. Preventing grace – Grace goes ahead of us and prepares us for conversion
b. Operating grace – God’s love works on us to turn our will towards his will.