FORREST GUMP: Love and Obedience | FCC 60

Simplicity and obedience out of love are just two of the many Christian themes found in Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Robin Wright, and Sally Field. We provide you with three easy tips for sharing the Gospel of Jesus by using this popular film only on this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:07:40 – Forrest Gump Discussion
  • 01:26:00 – Listener Feedback and Challenge
  • 01:34:00 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 01:42:20 – Lightning Round
  • 01:48:55 – Upcoming

Running with God

So many objects surround the theme of running in Forrest Gump: Forrest’s muddy yet comfortable and practical tennis shoes as seen in the first sequence at the bench, his leg braces as seen in his childhood, and his decision to run on the morning he discovers Jenny has left him once again. Lieutenant Dan also finds himself within this theme when he loses his legs.

Judging by the latter’s transformation in the film, we can gather an understanding of what the storytellers were trying to say about running in this film, that it is symbolic of purpose and meaning in life. For Lt. Dan, he feels empty and void of purpose when he loses his legs; on the other hand, Forrest finds his fulfillment in simply going wherever the wind blows him…or, wherever God leads him.

This image from FORREST GUMP shows Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump running.

We equivocate the wind in this film as God; therefore, just as the feather that dances across the screen in the opening credits, Forrest goes wherever God wants him to go. He goes without question, without second-guessing, without back-talking, and without any of those other negative human attributes. He just simply goes and trusts in God to make the right decisions for him.

Key Text: Romans 8:28-30, 37

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Obedience out of Love

Forrest isn’t just running and going with the flow of things for no reason, though; instead, he is actively obeying these commands – from wherever or whomever they may come – out of respect and out of love. This single-minded obedience starts at a young age for Forrest, and it sticks with him (rather, he keeps it) throughout the course of his life.

At times, however, it will almost seem like there are contradictory orders given from the same Other, but Forrest finds a way to still obey. For example, Mama tells Forrest that he has to go to school, but she also tells him not to ride with strangers. He then comes to what he thinks is an impasse when his only to go to school is by riding with a stranger. But instead of wallowing in the superficial confusion and disobeying by not acting, Forrest takes it upon himself to introduce himself to the driver and thus solve both problems.

This image from FORREST GUMP shows young Forrest and young Jenny sitting in a tree.

Forrest uses these problem-solving skills in almost every situation involving his obedience to contradictory orders on the surface – especially with Jenny. In the scene on the bridge outside the theater in Memphis, Jenny tells Forrest to stay away from her. This contradicts her previous command from childhood; as she and Forrest sat in the tree, she told him to stay with her. In order to follow both commands, then, he withholds himself from Jenny as she searches the world to find herself but is always ready for her when she comes back. Arguably, this is the kind of loving-kindness that ultimately persuades Jenny to come home for good.

Forrest Gump is the pinnacle of single-minded obedience; he doesn’t obey out of fear but out of love. This exemplifies why we should simply obey Jesus’s commands for our lives, whether its selling all we have and giving that money to the poor or taking up our daily cross and simply following him. Jesus has made the call, so it’s up to us to respond with obedience.

Key Text: John 14:15 (NLT)

If you love me, keep my commandments.

Honor for the Fool

One of the dangers of simply and blindly obeying someone is that others may perceive you as being a fool. Plenty of people thought this about Forrest: his principal, his coaches, the old men at the barber shop, and bullies at school. Everyone thought Forrest was a moronic simpleton, and they ridiculed him for it. He was despised and rejected for his simplicity, kinda like Jesus during his ministry.

Forrest, however, also just like Jesus, was later rewarded with the highest honors around. Forrest received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Vietnam, and Jesus was raised from the dead and seated by God the Father’s side. Both received extremely honorable accolades in both earth and heaven (respectively speaking), and both live out their lives with that honor.

This image from FORREST GUMP shows Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump receiving the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Of course, others will want to spoil the celebration. Lieutenant Dan scoffs and mocks Forrest for going on national television and accuses him of making a fool of himself on that platform. We already know Jesus was mocked on his way to the cross and accused of being a heretic and a blasphemer, and we can only imagine of what the Satan will accuse him when the time comes.

But that fact remains that Forrest, just like Jesus, received honor when plenty of others tried to say anything they could against him. This also means that when we decide to stop being wise in the world’s eyes and start being “foolish” by loving God and loving others, we can be one step closer to receiving true honor.

Key Text: Romans 2:7 (NLT)

He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a good way to use stories to soften peoples' hearts. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever.
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