The Gospel in Pretty Woman
A few days ago over Christmas break, I encountered a movie I had seen a time or two, but never paid much attention to the dialogue. “Pretty Woman” starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, a heralded classic (among women anyways) crept up on the tube. I don’t get caught up in the cultural impact of the film, but as many of you may know, Roberts plays the part of a prostitute in which Gere’s character initially pays to have her all dazzled up and ultimately companionship, not merely sexual favors.
In preparing for sermons and Bible studies, I was struck with the minor comparisons of the story of Hosea and Gomer. While a stretch to see (and not exactly the type of movie I would advocate everyone to watch), there is a beautiful scene in which she is waiting for him in a hotel lobby before a special dinner. He is apparently late. And she lets him know.
Roberts: You’re late.
Gere: You’re stunning.
Roberts: You’re forgiven.
The dialogue interposed almost seems to be a reversal of what you’d expect from a Biblical story. But here’s how it works, somewhat flipped; even though the story brings to mind Hosea and Gomer with the idea that we all play the prostitute as our hearts are inherently a factory of idolatry, that scene specifically challenges me to recover Christ’s beauty in His all consuming grace. Though we are never late in God’s time, nor is He, humanly we may see our lives as wasted until Christ becomes foundational in our lives, full of eternal value. His grace and His love is always stunning, when we most realize we don’t deserve it. And we see Him holy and full of these attributes, we are forgiven. Everytime. When we have failed. When we fall short. When we realize our idolatry. We see His grace more completely. We have been bought back and given a sense of worth. And He sees us as worthy dying for.
I’m not hinting that He is ever late like the dialogue seems to suggest, and sometimes I wish He’d come to my rescue sooner in the moment of suffering. But in our depravity, even through secular art, His redemptive work is clearly at hand. Like it was with Hosea and the pre-figuring of Israel, and how Christ came first for the Jews, then for the Gentiles. What joy it is to receive His forgiveness after I recover His infinite, glorious and stunning beauty, through a filthy, gory death.
Or maybe I just love a paradox. I can’t avoid the illustration. Even if I failed to rightly get into words what I witnessed in that scene. Maybe it was the mannerisms or the tone of the words, the attitude it was said, or the events that preceded the scene. But nonetheless, I was reminded of God’s grace.