2003, PG-13, (Cuba Gooding Jr, Beyonce Knowles)
Main Point of Discussion:
Christians get baptized in obedience to God.
The Movie Clip:
"I won't do it."
This movie is about a New York advertising executive named Darrin (Cuba Gooding), who travels to his small Southern hometown to collect an inheritance. Before collecting his inheritance, however, he must conduct the church choir and lead them to success in a big competition. The choir is in sad shape and Darrin recruits from all walks of life trying to find a few decent singers. When he adopts three prison inmates, the church members get uptight.
In this particular clip, Darrin is told that all choir members must be baptized. There is definite anxiety in the choir members, and in Darrin, and you actually hear different views on baptism. The scene begins at the beginning of chapter 13, and ends right after Mr. Johnson's line, "I won't do it!"
Be sure to stop the clip on time, because there is swearing in the next scene.
Introducing the Clip:
Baptism is mentioned over 90 times in the New Testament. It’s a subject that is obviously important to God but sometimes confusing to believers. Here’s a movie clip that includes some attitudes about baptism. Pay attention to what people seem to believe about God, Jesus, and baptism as you watch. In this movie Darrin, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., has gone home to collect on a promised inheritance. He is told that before he can get his money he must guide the church choir to success in a major competition. The choir stinks and Darrin recruits new singers from all walks of life, even the local prison. These guys can really sing… but joining the choir isn’t that easy. Watch this.
BEGIN CLIP AT 1 hour and 17 minutes and 0 seconds (in chapter 13).
Glad you’re here, Reverend. I suppose you noticed how the choir has grown.
I was just saying how good they are.
I also suppose you plan on enforcing the rules and by-laws that say all members of the church choir MUST BE BAPTIZED and take Bible study classes.
Oh, now, Pauline…
Can’t change that! You’ll change everything!
She has a point, Darrin.
What point? If you change things they’ll be different? Well, yea!
I’m sorry Darrin. If they are going to stay, they’re gonna have to abide by the church rules.
I can’t swim.
Don’t worry Mr. Johnson. It’s just a little sprinkle.
I won’t do it.
END CLIP AT 1 hour and 21 minutes and 12 seconds
There were many different people in that scene and each one of them probably had their own opinion of baptism and what it is. We’re going to give you a chance to talk about your opinions, and hopefully answer some of your questions regarding baptism.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- ASK SOMEONE: Why does Pauline (the preacher’s sister) say that choir members should be baptized?
- ASK A FEW: How does Darrin (the choir director) seem to feel about baptism?
- ASK A FEW: What are some of the other character’s feelings about baptism?
- ASK A FEW: What do you suppose most Christians believe about baptism?
- ASK A FEW: What thoughts about baptism do you have from your church experience or conversations with people who have been baptized?
- ASK A FEW: Should a person get baptized in order to receive eternal life? What makes you believe this?
Note to Leader:
Baptism is a sign of our obedience to God. Jesus tells us to be baptized, so we should do it. But let’s not get carried away and say that baptism is a requirement for salvation. There is NOTHING we can do to earn our way into God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8,9). The only thing we can do is believe and put our trust in Jesus. True trust results in obedience. And we should obey Jesus and get baptized, just like we should obey God and honor our father and mother. Side note: If someone does tell you that we need to be baptized to be saved, ask that person how the thief on the cross made it to heaven! (Luke 23:43)
But baptism IS important. Let’s look at Scripture to see what directions God gave regarding baptism.
In Greek, the word “baptize” means to dip, to dunk in a tank, to identify. In Matthew we read of the baptism of Jesus.
Read the following passage:
ASK SOMEONE: Read verse 15 again. Jesus told John that he had to be baptized for a reason. What was that reason?
Note to Leader:
Jesus always wanted to please the Father. He didn’t need to be baptized by John to show that He was a follower of God or that He was born again or without sin. Jesus didn’t have any sin so there was nothing to confess or be cleansed from. Yet He STILL wanted to be baptized by John because that’s what God wanted. Jesus always wanted to obey and please His father.
ASK A FEW: Why might God have wanted Jesus’ baptism to take place?
Note to Leader:
Jesus was baptized because He was obeying his Father. God had a plan for the life of Jesus and part of the plan included baptism.
Matthew 3:13-17 (New Living Translation)
13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”
15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
In another passage, Jesus instructs His disciples to go and make more disciples, help others understand the love of Jesus, and choose new life through Him. This is called the Great Commission because Jesus is sending Christians out with clear directions: Go make disciples and baptize them.
Read the following passage:
Note to Leader:
Matthew 28:19-20 (New Living Translation)
19 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
So not only was Jesus baptized out of obedience to God, He also instructed us to be baptized and to baptize new believers, or followers of Him.
What are some reasons God wants people to be baptized today?
We obey God when we choose to be baptized. Those guys in the movie clip may not have understood who Jesus is and what He has done for us, but we understand. When we decide to get baptized, not only do we show the people around us that we are choosing a new life (with Jesus in charge) but we are also submitting to God’s direction, just like Jesus did. We are obeying the Father. We are offering ourselves, our whole bodies, in this act of obedience.
Water baptism is an outward sign to the world of the inward change already in us. When Jesus was baptized the heavens opened up and God spoke, saying, “This is my beloved son who brings me great joy.” If you have made a decision to give your whole life to God, then your heart is new, and you are saved. Baptism has nothing to do with salvation. But baptism is your chance to obey God with an outward sign of dedication. This will bring God glory and joy.
(Original Idea by Dan Holt; Written by Teddi Pettee)