The Perfect Race
Written and produced by Dave Christiano
Coach Courtney Smith-Donnelly from "Remember The Goal" works with a female athlete at a small Christian college who tries to overcome long odds and win a national title in the 800 meter run. Coach Donnelly's training methods and teachings on life both line up with the concept that in order to win...you first have to lose.
Does the plot glorify God? Yes, as this is a follow-up to, Remember the Goal, and is now centered around a small Christian college.
Does the film content glorify God through His Word: Use of Bible verses and adhere to His commandments?
Luke 9:24 in opening credits: 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. This Bible verse forms the main theme of the film.
Promotes God as the only God
Coach Michaels, who has to retire, leaving Coach Donnelly to take over, coined a saying with his student Brittany, “We” did it. The “we” referred to athlete, coach and the Lord. Coach Michaels taught that the Lord must never be left out of anything you do in your life.
Coach Donnelly continued this teaching - everything must be connected to God
Coach Donnelly and her husband were praying for Coach Michaels.
Promotes being free from idols or refrain from promoting idols
The focus on Luke 9:24 means that idols do not get the chance to be our priority.
Honours parents or refrains from promoting dishonour of parents?
Coach Michael encouraged Brittany to run and greet her dad towards the end of practice, honouring her father’s presence.
Speak against lies or refrain from promoting lies?
A student seeks advice from Coach Donnelly about her friend who was lying on a regular basis and showed no interest in the Bible or Christian standards.
Speak against jealousy or refrain from promoting jealousy?
Coach Donnelly references 1 Corinthians 13:4 when speaking to Brittany about her boyfriend’s jealousy over her track success.
What Christian standards does the film convey?
Luke 9:24 in opening credits: For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it
Luke 9:24 24 - used as an analogy for track strategy -be willing to go slower and lose in unimportant races in order to go faster in the long run for the important race.
Coach Donnelly spoke of the rich young ruler (Luke 12:13-21)
Healing of Bartimaeus (blind man) in Jericho (Mark 10:46-52). He wanted to see, and Jesus healed him, saying his faith had made him whole.
Salvation through Christ alone (does not promote good works)
Coach Donnelly during a conversation with Coach Michaels talked about her faith in Christ and how faith in Christ is the only way to get to heaven (Acts 4:12). Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Coach Donnelly’s analogy about having her team run in the rain and following Christ throughout life’s difficult situations like marital problems - She stressed that being a Christian meant that we followed the Lord even when we can’t feel Him or understand events, circumstances. I have experienced that my life became much harder after I regained my faith. It reminds me of what Jesus asks of us in Matthew 16:24 - If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
As mentioned, Coach Donnelly used running in the rain as an analogy for walking through life’s problems. This was in a conversation with Brittany's boyfriend who was going through some character challenges that were negatively affecting his relationship with Brittany.
Does the film give glory and honour and thanks to God? All the way!
God and Jesus are the main focus for Coach Michaels and Coach Donnelly.
Did the film encourage my faith? Yes, it’s uplifting to see a Christian mentor teaching students how the Word of God should be at the centre of the lives of people who claim to be Christians.
What actions did I do, as a result of seeing the film?
Revisited Bible verses
Reflected on my talents and what God wants me to do with my life
Would I change anything about the film?
The analogy of the rich young ruler versus Brittany wanting to get to the national championships: The rich young ruler was about getting to heaven, following Christ, through the Word. Brittany getting to the nationals is about an earth centered goal. I understand the context was about doing whatever it takes to achieve our goals, but I also think there has to be a balance as we remember 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - that speaks of our bodies not belonging to us, but as the temple of the Holy Spirit. It also makes me think of 1 Corinthians 10:31 - doing all to the glory of the Lord. If we do whatever it takes to achieve earth-based goals, then we are making whatever we are trying to achieve an idol. However, under prayer we can discern what we should do and when.
Coach Donnelly said if she could bet money on the race, she would bet on Brittany. This is another expression that is built into most of us - that comes up every once in a while. The Bible speaks against betting and gambling (Hebrews 13:5, Proverbs 13:11). So I would have taken this out of the film, even though Coach Donnelly’s character gave no indication she would actually gamble.
While 1 Corinthians 10:31 was the focus for Remember the Goal, Luke 9:24 is the focus for the follow-up, The Perfect Race. Luke 9:24 requires we give up our pride - we humble ourselves in order to follow Jesus Christ. In The Perfect Race - the aim was to eliminate the pride that gets in the way of us accepting the analogy that going slower in practice will result in a faster speed for the competition goal. The willingness to lose in order to gain.
The Perfect Race is a wonderful analogy of the gospel. We choose to lose the world when we become disciples of Jesus Christ, and by God’s grace, undergo the process to separate ourselves from this sinful world, as the Word says we are in the world, but not part of the world (John 17:14-16, 1 John 2:15-17). But the Bible is clear, we cannot serve two masters. Losing the world will result in eternal gain - salvation through Jesus Christ, with the end result being a place in the eternal kingdom of God (John 14:1-3, Revelation 22:12-14, John 11:25-26).
Thank you for reading this review. Until next time - peace be with you.
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