Responding to life’s little messes

Reflections on “Bruce Almighty”

2003. It is a cliché that won’t die whatever can go wrong will. The comedy Bruce Almighty exploits this contrivance proving that this cliché is not dead, at least not in the movies and more so with human nature.

Murphy’s Law close cousin is when you begin thinking that not so benign Supreme Being is in the business of making life difficult. You start to feel that God is not doing his job properly, the assumption being that everything in life is supposed to work to a pre-defined, well-ordered agenda that holds no room for inconveniences. Jim Carey as news reporter Bruce Nolan knows what you’ve going through.

Bruce Nolan is frustrated with his lack of up-ward career movement in the broadcasting industry. After losing his job, getting beat up, and stepping in a puddle – the final limit – he complains to God and asks Him for a “sign” to show that the Almighty is interested in Bruce’s predicament. The sign does not turn up the way he imagines – (there are several contenders; however, road signs prominently vie for his attention, which may provide a knowing smile for some in the audience) – but Bruce does get the attention of God.

While in the building called Omni Presence God gives Bruce the powers that only God possesses for a week. Bruce still has the power to choose, and his enhanced abilities seem to be a metaphor for the power of choice anyone has with free will. Bruce initially uses it selfishly. However, God wants to teach Bruce a lesson. The lesson as it unfolds in several hilarious moments is a sometimes touching and poignant expression of the responsibility human beings owe to their Creator and the world he made.

Bruce Almighty is about choices. God pricks Bruce’s conscience about executing his free will responsibly. Could Bruce’s powers be channelled into helping others? Will he leave the challenging work all up to God?

An indelible impression from this film is about how to be a blessing in someone else’s life and how to influence behaviour and circumstances for the betterment and benefit of one person, many, rather than passively asking God to do work that we have the ability and gumption for. It’s about acting. The movie is saying that God is waiting for us to act because he has put the resources into us already.

Humans are designed to co-operate and partner with God in this. Part way through the movie God explain to Bruce that the best miracles are about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. As if an answer to all his troubles God tells Bruce “To be the miracle”. God still acts and intervenes, but he is also asking us to act and behave differently in circumstances that we can=n change for good.

A choice that that we also have is when a person is presented with the person Jesus Christ – do we accept his claims as the only way to God, the divine Saviour of mankind whose death and resurrection executed God’s plan to redeem humanity for those who believe in him?

God is central to the ideas in Bruce Almighty and Jesus Christ cannot be separated from God. For more about who God is as seen in Jesus Christ, I suggest you read the four gospels in the New Testament of the Bible. There’s a fine line between humanity’s dark side and which is made in the image of God; Bruce Almighty shows us that God still believes in us, and our potential for good.

By Peter Veugelaers

Published 2003, Challenge The Good News Paper.




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