At first, I was thrilled about this movie, then had second thoughts. Based on what I know of Rich, he would be the last person to want a movie to be made about him. He wanted the focus to be on Jesus, not himself. He was a reluctant celebrity The writer/director/producer said as much to the family when he approached them about doing the movie. Clearly, the family liked the reasons behind the desire, and the movie was made, with the family’s help. In fact, several appear in the movie, including Rich’s brother Dave.
If all you know about Rich is his songs, you don’t know much about Rich Mullins. He was more than a songwriter and singer. Rich was, complex. I knew going into this movie that he had his dark side, his struggles, and trials. And I knew that this movie wouldn’t gloss over his weaknesses, that said, I wasn’t ready for what was shown. And that’s a good thing.
Seeing the depths to which Mullins fell made the triumph of God’s grace all the more powerful. We see Rich, all too often, smoking, an on-going vice that isn’t addressed, drinking, to the point of showing up falling down drunk at a friends funeral on one occasion, and suffering from bouts of depression, anger and an ever pervading fear of abandonment. The failures were such that it lead a viewer at another screening to ask the director, “Did Rich ever have Victory?” And in that question, I think we find the message not only of this movie but the Music and ministry of Rich Mullins.
Our victory does not lie in our own accomplishments, it doesn’t lie in overcoming our failures, or anything we can do. Our victory is in Christ and Christ alone. It’s easy to look at this depiction of Rich’s life and want to disown him, turn away from him. Sadly it’s what we in the Church do best when our “idols” fall.. But what made Rich’s writing so powerful, was that he was writing from the point of view of a fallen man.. When we hear Rich sing “Hold Me, Jesus, I’m shaking like a Leaf, you’ve been King of my glory, won’t you be my Prince of Peace” we embrace the song, but when you hear the song in context of the despair and brokenness that he was going through, it punches you in the Gut.
In the end, while Rich would have hated being the subject of a movie like this, I believe he would have come to embrace it, as he reluctantly did his fame. Because like his music and his writings, this film is yet another case of Rich being an arrow pointing to heaven. Ragamuffin – The True Story of Rich Mullins is available on Amazon.com