The Perfect Stranger (2005) Movie Script

Sarah, the bus just pulled up and
you've got about 3 seconds.
I'm almost ready.
What could possibly take and 8 year
old so long to get ready for school
It's not like she has...
Sarah! Now!
I'm right here.
Here you go peanut.
Wheat bread, no mustard and there
is a big surprise for desert.
You mean an apple.
Now, I packed your warm pijamas
and your flashlight...
And don't talk back to Stephanie's
mother even if Stephanie does it.
I won't.
Have fun... You know how
much mommy loves you.
And I love mommy back.
Now, go hug your dad.
Bye daddy, see you tomorrow.
Tomorrow? What happened
to this afternoon?
Matt, I told you three times.
She's going to campout at
the Edmond's tonight.
Oh! Well, have a good time sweetie.
So I guess you also
probably have forgotten,
that since Sarah is going to be gone...
I thought it would be nice if we
met at Pepino's for dinner tonight.
Remember? Like a date night...
Oh! I can't tonight honey.
Tim's got an extra ticket to the
Cub's game at seven.
Cub's game? And
when did this come up?
Yesterday. His father in law got
seats right behind the dugout.
Matt! I haven't seen you all week!
You've seen me!
Sure! When you get home at 8:30,
exhausted, smelling like Taco Bell.
Honey, I'm a Vice-President.
You knew that was going to
mean more hours.
So I have all day to look forward
to a Friday night by myself.
Why don't you get out and
meet some of the neighbors.
They've been after you to do
something since we've moved in.
Yeah! Chuch stuff, Matt.
They've invited me
to do Church stuff.
Church stuff can be fun.
Oh really?
Why don't you head on over to the
Men's Church ride Cookout.
It sounds a lot more
fun than a ball game.
And I know you've never been.
That's why the inconspicuously
put one of these in our mail box,
every Thursday since we moved here.
Now you're being a little over dramatic.
Why? Because I resent the fact that
I'm stuck home on a Friday night...
and the best you're offering me is...
high tea with the
Jesus freak next door?
I've got to go. I'll be home late. Michigan Avenue Construction
...more Chicago weather forecast.
At the burning bush,
God calls Moses and says:
Moses I want you to go and I want
you to free the people from...
Good morning, Rachel.
Morning, Mrs. Cominsky.
It's Nikki - Mrs. Cominsky
is my mother-in-law.
"You are Invited to a
Dinner with Jesus Christ,
Rachel, could you
come in here please.
Be right there.
Do you know how
this got on my keyboard?
I didn't see anybody
come in here - what is it?
Apparently it's some kind of joke.
Pepino's... it's nice to
know Jesus has good taste -
are you sure he's buying?
Look, if you're just covering
for Les Hudson or Alex-
Les and Alex aren't in today.
I swear, I don't know
how this got in here.
Okay! Thanks!, all it says is, 'You're
invited to dinner with Jesus Christ
Pepino's, seven o'clock...
I'm scared to death that one
of our religious fanatic neighbors
snuck in here last night and left it -
Mom, you don't know these people.
They have been after us for every,
Oh! Wait a minute!
Pepino's? Seven o'clock?
This is Matt!
Pepino's was where I told him
I wanted to have a date night,
and seven o'clock was when he was
supposedly going to the ballgame!
That little... what?
No... things have been...
just about the same...
...maybe this is a sign
he's getting playful again...
I just don't get the Jesus part.
Maybe he's just making
fun of the neighbors.
I don't care what the joke is,
just so long as we can sit down...
and have a nice evening together.
Just wish I had time to go
home and change first.
Oh well!
Okay! Now that the mystery's
solved I better get back to work.
Okay! Give Kelly a hug for me.
Alright. Miss you too. Bye.
Good evening. May I help you?
No... I mean, yes.
I'm supposed to meet someone.
And what is the name?
Right this way, Mrs. Cominsky.
Here we are.
Nikki... Hi!
I'm Jesus!
Where's Matt?
I'd say by now he's sitting
behind the dugout at Wrigley.
Enjoy your dinner.
Thanks for meeting me. I'm
really glad you were freed up.
Excuse me, am I supposed to know you?
Good question.
I guess the answer is yes.
I'm sorry, but as far as I can
remember, I've never met you.
That's true.
Okay! So, let's just start over...
your name is
My family called me Yeshua.
Your family. From-
Well, actually, I grew up there.
...I wasn't born there.
No, that would've been in -
Look, this has all been very cute,
but I've got better things to do
than waste my time on stupid joke.
Just who are you, anyway?
Who put you up to this?
I know I'm not quite
what you were expecting -
Did my neighbors set this up?
Is this what that church does -
hire some actor to tell people he's Jesus?
Is this some... creative
recruiting tool they use?
I gotta tell ya, - your costume's
not exactly historically accurate.
I'm not an actor, and no,
your neighbors didn't send me.
If you'll just stay for dinner, I
know it'll mean something to you.
Who wouldn't find dinner
with Jesus meaningful?
Just last weekend I had
breakfast with Napoleon,
and it was a blast.
Look, I got to get
home with my family.
Thanks for the invitation.
Please, stay.
Look, how many chances do you get
to come to Pepino's, anyway.
If you stay for dinner, I promise to
tell at the end who set it all up.
You know, it just so happens
that I got dumped for
a baseball game tonight,
and I have been thinking about
Pepino's manicotti all day...
...but if you try anything, I swear,
Have you selected a wine, sir?
I think I'll let my friend decide -
would you care for some wine?
You are buying, right?
Yes I am.
Well, sure, then.
I'll take a bottle of the...
'98 Brunello di Grotta?
You obviously know your wines.
I'll be right back.
Thank you, Carlo.
So... your family called you Yeshua?
Most of them. My brother James
called me a few other things.
Can you turn this wine
back into water?
No problem.
My friend would like another glass
of water instead of this wine.
Certainly, sir.
Never mind.
Very funny.
Thanks, Eduardo.
Sorry to bother you.
Are you on a first name basis
with the entire wait staff?
So what are you thinking?
Thinking I'm a married woman who's crazy
for not leaving when she had the chance.
I mean about your order.
Oh... I'm staying on the manicotti.
I think I'll try the salmon.
Because it's Friday?
Good one.
Ready to order?
Yes, I'd like the
stuffed mushrooms,
the Mediterranean salad,
and the manicotti.
And I'd like the tomato
and artichoke soup,
the tortellini salad, and
the salmon filet, please.
Very good.
Beats bread and wine, huh?
Tell me about your family.
I thought you knew
everything already.
Why don't you humor me?
Where's you family from?
Oh, no! I'm much more interested in
hearing about your family, Jesus.
Why don't you tell me
about Joseph and Mary.
Growing up in Nazareth wasn't like
growing up in Cincinnati.
I can tell you that.
We didn't get many footlong
hot dogs at Riverfront Stadium.
Joseph was a good father.
He had a shop next to the house,
but he did things at a leisurely pace.
I think the only time
he ever sped up
was when he was
trying to finish a project
before I could get my hands on it.
I didn't realize then how many of
his pieces I used to mess up.
At eight years old I wasn't
exactly a master carpenter.
You're good.
Some bread?
So, how about Mary?
Wasn't it difficult having
such a pious mom?
She was hardly pious.
More like an outcast
when I was young.
Back then, before pregnant
before the wedding
wasn't exactly what you would call -
It wasn't the thing to do.
Y'know from all the
paintings I've seen
either she is
nursing the baby Jesus
or taking Him down off the cross?
Did she do anything in between?
I had a great mother.
Her faith kept her going.
When I finally started preaching,
thats when it got hard for her.
- seeing her son worshipped one day
and then demonized the next -
I think it was harder than
she ever imagined it would be.
Look, you haven't told me
anything that someone with a Bible
and half an imagination
couldn't make up.
You're going to have to come up
with something a little better
than these sappy Mom and Pop stories.
To do what?
You know, one night on CNN,
Larry King said,
that of all the historical figures
the one he'd most like to
interview is Jesus Christ.
I got to tell you, this routine
with the retread Bible stories
has been a little
less than intriguing.
There's not much I can say that
would convince you that I'm Jesus.
Well, there's one true statement.
So how about we do this...
How about you suspend your
disbelief, just for tonight,
and we'll proceed as
if I really am Jesus.
Now, if you were sitting here
with Jesus Christ,
I know you would have some
questions for him.
The other day I passed a church
and the sign said, "No one comes
to the Father except through me."
signed, Jesus.
Now did He actually say that?
Because if he did, I
think he's full of it.
The stuffed mushrooms,
and your soup, sir.
You're not going to ask me
to say the blessing, are you?
I usually like to say a
word of thanks before meals.
Do you mind?
No, not at all.
Father, thank you for always
providing for us, whom you love.
That's it?
Oh, I'm sorry. Is there
something else you'd like to say?
No, I think that covered it.
What about that 'no one comes to the
Father except through me' business?
Why do you think I'm mistaken?
Because you've got all these people
around the world that believe in
different ways of worshiping God.
And you are saying that only
Jesus way is the right way.
You're problem with that is?
A lot!
Who's to say that Jesus'
way is any better
than Muhammad's or
Budda's or the Hindus?
Do you think Hinduism is true?
I don't know.
I've got some friends back home
and it seemed to work for them.
I didn't ask you if you
thought it worked.
I asked you if you
thought it was true.
It was true for them.
Before Capernicus, most people
thought that the world was flat.
It was false but
it worked for them.
Do you know why that was?
I guess it didn't
matter much back then.
Before Columbus, nobody traveled
far enough for it to be a problem.
What would have happened is
someone tried to go to the moon?
They'd be in for a big surprise.
The point is:
What people believed worked for
them even though it was false
but at some critical juncture it
was bound to not work anymore.
You're the one with the
Master's degree - you tell me.
In business law, not philosophy.
Well, you still had to think a little.
All right.
What you're saying...
is that even if a belief
system works for someone,
if it's false, it will
eventually break down.
You don't want what you're placing
your ultimate trust in to be wrong.
Do you remember that class you
took at UC on World Religions?
How did you know...
What did that class
teach you about Hinduism
and how it squares off with what
is known about the universe?
If I remember correctly...
Hinduism teaches that
the universe is simply
an extension of a
universal force, called...
Brahman. Yes.
The ultimate essence.
And God is the universe
and the universe is God.
Right - and that there
is no separate creator.
And how long has
the universe existed?
According to the Hindus, always.
The universe is eternal.
How does that match up with what
modern astronomers have discovered?
Not very well, I guess.
I read an article once that
said all evidence points
to the universe having
a definite starting point.
So, if Hinduism is true, how did
the universe get here?
I don't know.
I don't know either.
All right!
How about something a little closer
to Christianity... like Islam?
The Muslims claim to worship
the God of the Bible.
So who's to say that their version
is wrong and Jesus is right?
That would all depend whether or
not God actually spoke to Muhammad.
It's a lot of weight to put on one
man's teachings.
Well, you could say the
same thing about Christianity.
It all depends on whether or not
God spoke to one guy.
The Bible has over forty authors,
that span fifteen hundred years
all with the same
consistent message.
But, who's to say that God
didn't speak to Muhammad?
Well, if he did, he got
a few things wrong.
Like what?
Well, for starters, Muhammad wrote
that I was never crucified,
that God's angels rescued me and
took me straight to heaven.
You mean Jesus.
That's what I said.
Maybe Muhammed was right.
No... he wasn't.
Oh, that's right, I forgot.
You were there.
But you don't have to ask me.
My crucifixion was
historically documented,
by Christians and Non-Christians.
But that's not the
only problem with Islam.
What else is there?
What's your deepest desire?
I'm not sure I
want to get into that.
Then let's talk in generalities.
What do most people's
hearts long for?
I don't know.
Big screen TV.
I suppose people's greatest
desire is to be loved.
I don't mean to be
too personal, Nikki -
but in your experience,
has another person ever completely
fulfilled that need for love?
Matt's a good husband.
That's not what I'm asking.
I suppose no one has ever
really fulfilled it completely.
That's because another
person never can.
Only God can.
He created people that way.
But the Muslim's
never had that hope.
They can't have a personal
relationship with Allah.
He's just someone to worship
and serve from far away -
even in Paradise.
Now, why would God create mankind
with this deep need to be loved,
and then never meet it?
Maybe the Muslim's don't have
all the answers.
But I don't think that
anybody does.
No they don't.
They only think they do.
Well, if nobody has all
the answers, then maybe...
...maybe God doesn't even exist.
Maybe this world really is all
there is. Have you considered that?
Then you're faced with
explaining the design thing.
What, that there's no way that
it could've happened by accident?
Do you know about
the black hole theory?
Pretty much.
Do you know the odds
calculated by the guy
who came up with that theory,
that a cosmic accident could
create such an orderly universe?
Take a guess.
I don't know... one in a billion.
Try one in a hundred billion...
to the 123rd power.
And that's just
the universe itself...
he wasn't even taking into account
the design of biological life.
All right. So you've managed
to poke a couple of holes
in these other religions.
But, it seems to me that every
religion, Christianity included,
they are just different
roads to the same place.
I mean, everyone
is looking for God...
Are you?
As I was saying...
everyone is looking for
God in their own way.
That's what I liked about
my friends' church back home -
they embraced everybody's different beliefs
and tried to help them
on their path to God.
There's just one problem with that?
There is no path to God.
Want some tortellini?
So what do you mean,
there's no path to God?
Every religion claims to
teach the way to God.
There's a way to God.
It's just isn't a path.
What I mean is this.
A path...
is something you travel by your
own effort to reach a destination.
But there's no way you
can work your way to God.
That path... just doesn't exist.
Wait a minute -
that's what religion is all
about - trying to get to God.
How can you possibly say otherwise?
Did you ever get into
trouble when you were a kid?
Are you changing the subject?
I'll get back to the other thing.
I don't think this place
stays open long enough
for me to tell you about all
the trouble I used to get into.
That bad, huh?
Give me a highlight.
Well... one time when
we were on vacation,
I dumped a milkshake on
my little sister's head.
What did your dad do?
Well, he... pulled over,
bent me over his knee
and gave me the worst
spanking I ever had.
So your dad always
handled the spankings.
Yeah, Mom just yelled at us.
But he didn't spank us very often.
Why not?
It just wasn't his way
of handling things, I guess.
He was bigger on making us understand
why what we had done was wrong
and apologizing to the other person
- especially if it was Mom.
So your dad had a lot
in common with God.
How so?
Well, they both focused
on restoring relationships.
Your dad made you admit you had
hurt someone and then apologize.
He wanted you to
restore that relationship.
I guess I never
thought of it that way.
That's exactly how it is with God.
He isn't interested in people
performing well enough for Him -
they can't possibly do that anyway.
God created people to have
a relationship with Him,
so they can enjoy His love.
So why don't they?
Because man has rejected God
and severed the relationship.
God's whole program,
if you wanna call it that,
is all that putting
it back together.
Tell me this.
When Sarah does something wrong,
how many dishes does she
have to wash before she can
get up on your lap
and get a hug again?
Then how many A's will she
have to make in school?
That's silly.
Because she doesn't have to
do anything - she's my daughter.
Well, there you go.
So you are saying
that we can't do anything
to earn God's love?
A little more?
Back to the Muslims who try
to earn their way into Paradise -
do you know how many daily prayers
they have to perform just
to be good enough?
Neither do they.
They're never sure
if they've done enough
praying, or fasting, or making
pilgrimages, giving to the poor.
Just ask them, they'll
tell you the same thing...
And the Hindus never know
how many lifetimes it takes
to successfully
workout their karma.
But Christianity is no different.
I mean, no one can ever really know
if they've been good enough to
make it into heaven.
Oh, they you can know that for
certain. And the answer is no,
they can't.
No one is good enough to make into
heaven, no matter how hard they try.
So you're saying that
doing all the right things,
like keeping the Ten Commandments,
and not cheating on your taxes,
won't get you into heaven?
That's right.
Keeping the Ten Commandments
wont get you into heaven.
Then why do them?
There's great
profit in obeying God -
it just won't
get you into heaven.
Man's rebellion
against God is like a
huge rip in the moral
fabric of the universe -
- with God on one side and
everybody else on the other.
And there's no way you
can get to the other side.
Why not?
Because only God is
big enough to fix the tear.
Who would you say is
the best person in the world?
Excuse me?
Morally speaking, who's the
best person you can think of?
Living or dead?
Either one?
Somebody like
Mother Teresa, I guess.
All right,
we'll say this is Mother Teresa.
Now who's the worst?
Gosh - Osama bin Laden,
Jeffrey Dahmer, Hitler -
Pick one.
Okay... Hitler.
All right, that's Hitler.
Now where would you say that
you fall into place on this scale?
Well, if I say, 'With
Mother Teresa', I'll appear vain,
but if I put myself with Hitler
that's... well, forget it.
How about... here?
Sugar. Cute.
So what do I win?
But I am going to show you how
you measure up in the eyes of God.
Now, for this to be
totally accurate,
we'd have to place these
three objects on a road
that ran all the way from
New York to Los Angeles
with you, Mother Teresa,
and Hitler in New York,
and God's moral
standard all the way in L.A.
Are you saying that to God,
Mother Teresa and Hitler
are essentially the same?
No, Hitler was horribly evil. Mother
Teresa did many good things.
What I'm saying is, Mother Teresa,
for all her goodness,
was no closer to bridging the
gap to God than Hitler was.
Both of them, based
on their own merits,
were still a long way
from being with God.
So that's why you
said that keeping the
Ten Commandments
won't get us into heaven.
Right. Because no one could ever
keep them well enough.
Because God's
standard is perfection.
Boy that's reassuring.
And you wouldn't
want it any other way.
What's that supposed to mean?
Would you really want
the universe to be run by
someone who wasn't all about
a perfect system of justice...
...a perfect brand of holiness?
Why not? Perfect holiness is the
last thing I need to deal with.
So you would you want a universe
where crime goes unpunished?
Where someone who harms
Sarah gets off scot free?
Where somebody like bin Laden
isn't held accountable for 9/11?
Yeah, but not everyone
is as bad as bin Laden.
No, but everyone is a rebel
against God in their own way.
It just doesn't seem fair that God
sees everyone in the same way.
I mean, some people
are just worse than others.
And God will handle
them all accordingly,
but that's just
the whole point, Nikki.
On what basis would you
stand before a perfect God
and say that you've
been good enough.
But I thought God is forgiving.
With this perfect justice thing,
you're saying that God
can't forgive anyone.
God is forgiving and more than
anything else,
God wants to forgive people
so that they can return to Him -
but God's desire to forgive can't
override His perfect justice.
People have to pay a penalty
for breaking God's laws.
And the penalty is death.
So what has to happen
before He'll take us back?
Well, God has two options.
Either He could let people try
and pay for their own penalties.
Which you already said
they can't do.
Right - there's no way. They'd
be separated from Him forever.
God's other option,
is to take the penalty
of death on Himself.
How can He do that?
He's God!
The creator is always
greater than the creation.
And for the Creator to take on
the penalty of death for himself,
that satisfies perfect justice.
But if He's already perfect and
holy, why would He want to do that?
Let's say,
when Sarah is twenty years old,
she falls in with a bad crowd
and gets hooked on heroin.
You're painting a real
cheery picture, there, Jesus.
Just stay with me.
Now, while she's on drugs,
she murders someone
and is sentenced to be executed -
would you take her
sentence if you could?
I'm sure I would.
Because I love her.
She'd have the rest of her life to
get straightened out and be happy.
Don't you think God loves you at
least as much as you love Sarah?
I really don't know.
Well, I know that God wants
you with Him -
that's why He made
you in the first place.
It is?
But you're naturally separated from
God because of the bad stuff you do
And to make good on a fact
that a penalty has to be paid
before you can be with God,
God took your penalty on Himself...
and He died to pay it for you.
So what's the catch?
What does He want from me?
Just that you trust Him.
...and believe in the fact that He
did die to pay your penalty.
There's one thing I'm confused about.
The Bible says that Jesus
died on the cross, not God.
Nikki... I am God.
Would you excuse me
for just a minute, please?
Oh my gosh,
this guy just told me he's God!
They all do, honey.
Just make sure he pays for dinner.
Prove it.
Excuse me?
Prove that you are God.
And just what would convince you?
I don't know, a
miracle or something.
You couldn't even turn
the wine into water earlier.
You just assumed I couldn't.
So you're saying you could
have, but chose not to?
And what if I had done it?
Well, it might've
gotten my attention.
And then what?
I'd like to try the
strawberry amaretto cake.
Just... bring me a canoli.
So you're having trouble believing
that God could become a man.
Wouldn't you?
Depends on what
I expected from God.
I don't expect him to look like he
just got off work at Merrill Lynch.
No, I guess I wouldn't either.
And to be quite honest,
I really don't
believe that God just
asks people to take a leap
of faith that He exists.
You're right.
God always gives proof
before He expects faith.
Then what proof is there
that Jesus was God?
Well, for one thing, it's exactly
what God said would happen.
When did He say that?
You've read what some
of the prophets said.
Yes, some of the Nostradamus
stuff, but that never really...
The real prophets, Nikki.
Y'know, a guy I dated
when I was a Freshman
actually got me
to join a Bible study
I remember one lesson
they were talking about the
prophets predicting that
a Messiah would come...
but I don't remember them saying
anything about him being God.
That's because you were more
interested in Tommy...
...than the Bible study.
And how would you know that?
Because I was there.
All right,
the prophets predicted that the
Messiah would be born of a virgin,
in Bethlehem...
Oh, and they also described
the crucifixion. So there.
Don't you think that
was a pretty good tipoff?
Predicting my birthplace seven
hundred years before it happened?
One man writing
about crucifixion
hundreds of years before
the Romans even invented it?
But still, all that doesn't
mean that Jesus was God.
Did you see that special
Peter Jennings did
about the historical Jesus?
I... know which one
you're talking about
It said that He never
claimed to be the Messiah,
much less God himself.
It said he struggled
with his identity,
and he was killed
for political reasons.
Mr. Jennings wasn't only
concerned with accuracy.
In truth...
I forgave sins, I accepted worship,
I healed the sick,
I raised the dead,
and I demonstrated
my power over nature.
I said I existed before Abraham,
that I was one with the Father,
and the giver of eternal life. Now,
who does that sound like to you?
Just because you claim to be God
doesn't mean that you are.
No, but it does mean that I wasn't
just another religious leader.
You only have three options -
either I was telling the truth,
I was lying,
or I was insane...
good religious leaders
don't claim to be God.
People distort the
truth mainly because
they reject this
proof they were given.
And what proof was that?
That I rose from the dead.
You're sitting there,
obviously alive -
if you claim that
you were once dead,
it would be pretty hard
for me to prove otherwise.
Good point.
So why don't we go by the facts.
According to that Peter Jennings special,
what does history say about me?
That Jesus was an actial person.
All right.
That He was a teacher
with a large following.
And we know that the
Romans executed Him.
Which brings us to
the Resurrection.
What happened next?
According to the disciples,
Jesus rose from the dead.
But of course they
would say that.
Is that what they were
expecting to happen?
I'm not sure.
The answer is no, they weren't.
Even though I told them several
times it was going to happen,
they still didn't believe
until they saw me in person.
Isn't it possible that they
only thought Jesus had died?
So the Roman executioners would
let someone down off the cross
that was just badly injured.
And three days later my
recovery was so miraculous
that the disciples
thought I was God.
But the disciples did
have something to gain
by claiming that
Jesus was resurrected.
Like what?
Like having the status of starting
a whole new religious movement.
So you are saying...
that the men who spread
the word about me...
launched the greatest force for
good the world has ever known,
they they did all this based on
something they knew was a lie?
Do you know that each disciple was
eventually persecuted and murdered?
Would someone willingly die for
something they knew wasn't true?
What about things like the Crusades,
and the Salem witch trials...
...and the wars between the
Protestants and the Catholics?
Doesn't it seem like your followers
are always at each other's throats?
Yes it does.
And I can't tell you
how said it makes me.
These people were
just outwardly religious -
they never really trusted me.
They never lived like the new
people they were supposed to be.
Isn't that just a little convenient?
I mean... Can you honestly
say that no real Christians
were involved in any
of these things.
The tragedy is... no,
I can't say that.
It may not be the norm... but it
has been much too frequent.
What did you mean by
living like new people?
When someone accepts my gift,
they get more
than just forgiveness -
- otherwise heaven would be full of
a bunch of forgiven sinners,
still running away from God.
That's not what he wants.
So what does he do about it?
He changes them from the inside.
Their heart and their spirit don't
want to run from Him anymore...
they want to be with Him... And do
the things He says are good.
But they don't
always do that I see.
Sometimes no, they don't.
A new heart just
gets you in the game.
After that you have to let
me be your coach.
What does that mean?
It means that you believe
in what I did for you,
that you have
accepted God's forgiveness,
and you've allowed Him
to live inside you.
Allow... Him to what?
Live inside you.
It's as close to
God as you can get.
The last thing I need is God looking
over my shoulder every minute.
He's already looking over your shoulder -
- what you need is Him
living in you every minute.
Well, how are you ever going to
love your family unconditionally?
I know you want
to love Matt better,
but you just don't know how...
...and even if you did
you couldn't.
Only God can love in a special way,
and He wants to do it through you.
I try do hard, but...
things just aren't going well
with Matt. We just get so...
...irritated at one another.
You know, these things you
are telling me...
...I never really heard
them explained before.
I know...
My message got all
jumbled along the way.
Church leadership...
power structures...
people were so anxious to
reduce God to a set of rules.
Isn't rules what He is all about?
God is all about joining
people to Himself.
That's how people were
originally designed.
To have God's
very life within them.
And without it, you are like a new
Mercedes with no engine... may look good on
the outside,
...but it won't work because it's
missing the most important part.
Then if that's what
Christianity is all about,
then why don't the
Christians just say so.
Because a lot of them
really don't understand.
They haven't
listened to what I said
...even though my words are
right there in front of them.
So where do we go from here?
Good question.
Where do you want to go?
Would you care for some coffee?
Yes, please.
Why doesn't God just... himself to people?
Then what would you have Him do?
I don't know...
Appear to each person individually.
No, seriously -
most people don't get a
personal dinner invitation.
I already appeared to everyone -
I became one of them.
It's as personal as it gets.
But that was over
two thousand years ago.
It's really not a matter of
further visual evidence.
People have all the
evidence they need...'s more a matter of the heart -
Do people want to humble
themselves enough to need God?
How can you say people have
all the evidence they need?
Well, the creation shows
them that God exists -
scientists know more about its
intricate design now more than ever.
I came to show
them what God is like.
And on top of that they have
the message of the Bible.
Speaking of the Bible, what
about all the contradictions?
Like which one?
I don't know the specifics, but -
Then I'll give you one.
One gospel account says I healed
two blind men outside of Jericho.
Another account says I healed one.
Well, there you go.
Tell me something, the other
day at work,
when you were telling Les
that story about something
that happened to you and Matt
when you went to the movies,
had the two of you
gone alone that night?
No, Matt's friend
Tim was with us.
Why did you leave that fact out?
Because it wasn't relevant
to the story I was telling.
All right. You knew
I was going to ask this...
Why have scientists had such a
problem with the Creation theory
as opposed to Evolution?
I think the problem is with
the 'in his own image' part.
That would make them
accountable to a Creator...
...and they don't want that.
Is there a hell?
For those who choose continue
separation from God,
there is an existence...
...and it's not an
existence you want.
Why does He send people there?
The Father offers forgiveness
to anyone willing to accept it.
Sometimes people choose
separation from God
and he respects what they choose.
Why doesn't he make everyone go
to heaven? They'd be happier there.
Because love doesn't
force relationships.
If you had somehow
forced Matt to marry you,
that wouldn't have been love.
God created people with the
ability to choose freely.
And He respects
those choices they make.
So I suppose you would say that...
for God to allow suffering
is the same kind of thing.
What do you think?
That humanity suffers because
it separated itself from God?
So why doesn't He
just make everything right,
and do it now, instead of waiting
for some day in the future?
It's a little hard
to answer because
you can't see things from
God's perspective right now.
But there is a
purpose to the present,
and one day everything
will be made right.
And don't forget - God didn't
leave you to suffer alone -
he suffered more than anyone.
You're still angry about your dad.
God took him away
when I was thirteen.
I'd say that's worth
being angry about.
Or was that just
part of God's plan?
Your dad loved you very much.
We used to do everything together.
Reds games, Bengals. He used
to coach my softball team.
When mom divorced him, we
moved across town and...
...he never coached me again.
You still saw him, though.
Yeah, every other weekend.
But it wasn't the same.
He missed you too.
I know.
You don't know how
brokenhearted he was about you.
It almost killed him to lose you.
Well he didn't live much
longer anyway, did he?
He didn't.
This may not seem true to you...
...but I was heartbroken
for both of you.
Yeah, you are right.
That doesn't seem true.
You never answered my question -
was my parents divorce
and my dad dying...
...part of God's plan?
Do you know the story
of the prodigal son?
Great. Another
Sunday School lesson.
What did it take for the son to
return to the father who loved him?
For life to get really bad
in the pig pen. So what?
Sometimes... it takes a deep hurt
to feel a deep need for God.
That's God plan?
That's what God is willing
to use in a broken world.
Your dad's pain drove him to me.
And without that wound
in your heart, Nikki,
you wouldn't be sitting
here talking with me either.
I wish I could say it
all makes sense now.
I wish I could say that.
More coffee ma'am?
No, this is fine.
I think we are ready for the bill.
Very good sir.
Even I don't like these things.
God doesn't like ties.
I'll note that
for future reference.
Can I have your autograph, sir?
Just in case?
Thank you very much, sir.
Thank you, Eduardo.
I wonder how much
that'll go for on EBay?
I like Eduardo.
He's a humble person.
You kept talking about
the gift of eternal life
...what's heaven like?
Heaven is a really cool place.
People's senses have been so dulled
by living in this broken world,
that you're not going to believe
all the sights, and sounds, smells
colors like you've never seen,
music like you've never heard.
There's a lot of activity, but an
overwhelming sense of peace.
Remember how you felt when you
stood next to the Grand Canyon -
just too awestruck to
possibly take it all in?
Well, heaven is like that...
...only infinitely more.
I feel stupid asking this, but are
the streets really made of gold?
Y'know, describing heaven
to you isn't exactly easy.
It's like describing
snow to the Aborigines -
there aren't many points of
reference for you to compare to.
Just know that what
the Bible says is true,
and it's far greater
than you can ever imagine.
And you're saying I don't have
to do anything to get there?
You're confusing
heaven with eternal life.
I thought they were the same thing.
They're not.
I'm not following you.
Eternal life isn't a place.
It's not even
primarily a length of time.
I am eternal life.
The Father is eternal life.
I'm still not sure I'm getting it.
Just as God is the
source of all physical life,
He's the source of
all spiritual life too.
Look at it this way -
God made your body to
need food, air, and water.
What happens when you
take those things away?
You die.
The same holds
true for your spirit.
God created your spirit
to be joined with him.
And without him, it's dies -
your spirit has no eternal life.
So when you say the Father
offers me eternal life...
He's offering you himself.
So what's heaven?
Heaven is the place where I am.
But people don't go to
heaven until they die.
True... but you can have
eternal life right now.
Eternal life doesn't begin
when you die,
eternal life begins the moment
you start trusting me.
...that's when I come
to live within you.
You. In me.
Me... the Holy Spirit...
Y'know, I never really understood
the whole Trinity thing...
...the Father, the Son,
The Holy Ghost-
Join the crowd. You weren't
meant to understand it.
Are you saying I'm incapable
of understanding it?
God wouldn't be much of a God if
you could fully understand him.
People still haven't figured out
most of creation thing.
I'm still not totally comfortable
with God coming to live inside me.
I like the forgiveness part, but
this other thing...
it is the best part.
You need someone living inside you
who will love you,
and accept you,
want to be around you, even when
you dont feel good about yourself.
Sarah wants to be around me.
Just wait til she's fifteen.
You're bored Nikki.
You were made for
so much more than this.
You're so afraid God's gonna steal
your fun, but you've got it backwards
You're like a kid who doesn't
want to go to Disney World
because she's having too much
fun making mudpies by the curb.
There's no adventure quite
like being hooked up
with the Creator of the universe.
And your first step would be
to let Him guide you out of
the mess you are in at work.
A couple of months ago you found
out some partners in your law firm
were cooking the books on
the firm's billing hours.
You are not involved,
but you know your career would
be jeopardized if they were caught.
You want to leave, why don't you?
I can't quit.
Without my income, we wouldn't be
able to keep living in that house,
and Matt would kill me if
we had to move again.
There's other law firms -
maybe not as prestigious, but -
for sure with better hours.
I know Sarah
would appreciate that.
Those hours you work late are
hours you'll never get back with her.
She'll be fifteen before you know it.
I know... I just...
I just can't do that right now.
You need someone to give you
strength to make that decision,
because it really
will work out OK.
I know it doesn't
seem like it right now.
That's true.
Matt would be furious... then I'd be
mad at him for reacting that way
...and then he would start...
What if someone lived in you
that could love Matt, even
when he's upset at you?
That seems impossible.
Not with God it isn't.
Here, let me get this...
I owe you one.
Nikki, it's a gift.
I thought they went
through your hands.
No. The spikes were
driven through my wrist
to support the weight of my body.
Are you ready to go?
You and Carlo act like old friends.
We are.
How long have you been
coming to Pepino's?
First time.
And now for the
million dollar question...
what did you drive?
I didn't drive.
Of course you didn't.
You never told me
who sent the invitation?
Suppose this was your
idea from the beginning.
Actually it was yours.
Do you remember when
your dad went away,
and you asked God to come
tell you why it happened?
Not really.
Well I remembered.
And I've been planning
this dinner for a long time.
Will we get together
for dinner again?
That's up to you.
I'm not sure what that means.
Hand me one of your business cards.
That'll tell you how to reach me.
You better be getting home,
Matt's already asleep on the couch.
Matt? No, the game won't
be over for at least-
Tim got sick on the nachos and they
came home after the fourth inning.
Sarah's there, too.
She got scared in the tent and
Stephanie's mom brought her home.
I'm glad you showed up Nikki.
I've enjoyed our time together.
I have too.
Remember, Matt's on your side -
he just hasn't learned
how to show it very well yet.
Just give him time and love him.
Give Sarah a big hug for me.
I will.
Thank you.
Until next time.
Hey, I'm home.
I'm really sorry
about this morning.
Its okay.
We can talk about it tomorrow.
I'm going to go look in on
Sarah before I turn in.
All right. I'll be right up.
Revelation 3:20
And Jesus said, "Here I am.
I stand at the door and knock;
If anyone hears my voice and opens
the door, I will come into them
and will dine with them,
and they with me."