How could any moviegoer (and certainly any preacher) not be hooked by those words?
The movie depicts the childhood friendship of Joe and Simon. Joe is a boy without a father and Simon a dwarf. They are drawn to one another because they both know what it means to be an outsider.
Simon believes that God has chosen him for a mission in life—to be a hero. He is cute, smart and has very much come to grips with his dwarfism. When Joe tells Simon that a girl finds him cute, Simon replies, "She means cute like a baby turtle is cute. Girls don’t kiss baby turtles."
"How do you know?" asks Joe.
"I just know. If you were me, you’d know too."
Much of the story (and Joe and Simon’s lives) revolve around the local church. Joe’s mother takes both boys to Sunday School (Simon’s parents are embarrassed by his existence). Simon gets a lot of grief in church. His Sunday School teacher is cold and unfeeling. Outspoken Simon often finds his theological views in opposition to those of the teacher and even of the church’s pastor. When Rev. Russell is asking God’s help for a fund-raiser, Simon stands up on his pew to proclaim, "I doubt if God is interested in our church activities. If God has made the bake sale a priority, we’re all in a lot of trouble."
When Simon’s antics disrupt the children’s Christmas pageant, Rev. Russell tells Simon that everyone needs a rest from him and it would be best if he didn’t come to church for awhile. It is a heartbreaking scene.
The movie does not give a very flattering view of the church. The two coldest characters in the film are the Sunday School teacher and the minister. On first appraisal, one would think Simon would have been better off without his involvement in the church. But then one wonders, where did Simon gain his deep conviction (which turned out to be true) that God had a mission for him? It is obvious that the only place he could have gained it was from the church. With all its too obvious flaws, the church was the place where Simon’s life gained purpose and meaning. Without that, Simon’s life would have been cruel and cold indeed. The point is that the church has for Simon become an instrument of God’s grace despite itself. The truth is highlighted again that God can hit straight even with a crooked stick, that He can and does reveal Himself even within a group of flawed, sinful, and sometimes loveless human beings. The Apostle Paul said: "We are no better than pots of earthenware to contain this treasure..." But the amazing truth is: contain this treasure we do.
©1998 C. David Hess