High school. It’s that time in life where young people feel their freedom begin to come seeping in, when their parents begin to lose the absolute control they had, and when choices teenagers make begin to shape their adulthood. In Because of Gracia, several students begin to engage each other - and their teachers - in an exploration of what it means to love God and explore the universe.
When the evangelistic Christian Gracia Davis AKA Grace arrives during his final year in high school, reserved Chase Morgan discovers a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Morgan’s best friend Obadiah Zachariah AKA OB loves school and everything that goes with it, but Morgan hasn’t really figured out who he is or what he wants in life. Grace is a breath of fresh air.
Simultaneously, pastor’s kid Bobbi finds herself in over her head with Jesse, a young man who doesn’t appreciate her beliefs about faith or her reservations about a sexual relationship. When she gives into his advances, she finds herself exploring the physical and emotional impact on her body and soul.
Two of the most important adults to the story, Mr. Livingston and Mr. Brady, are on opposite sides of the faith debate. Livingston is an atheist - just don’t call him a materialist! - while Brady is a Christian. Both men thoughtfully explore the universe from their own paradigm, and try to encourage their students to do the same. But Grace’s presence stirs the pot.
I found the whole film to be quite engaging, from the soundtrack to the acting, from the screenplay to the editing of Morgan’s imaginative scenes into the reality of the film’s timeline. Funny at times, powerfully moving at others, it unlocks a whole spectrum of issues that are worth discussing in our families and youth groups. In fact, it will challenge those of us outside of high school, too!
What does it mean to be faithful? Where do we turn to for absolute truth? How do we decide what we should do with our bodies and our minds? Why do we make the decisions that we do, and how do we respond when those decisions are mistaken?
It’s one giant lived-in parable meant to encourage us to follow Jesus in the every day, and to love each other in the midst of the world’s trouble. That is grace, isn’t it? And yes, we’re all chasing it, but it chases us back.