I Saw The Movie AND
Read The Book!
By Chonda Pierce
since the word got out that Mel Gibson was producing a new "Jesus" movie,
pastors, Christian artists and speakers have been shuffling about, prodded
by their flocks, trying to take a leader-like position--most without ever
having seen the movie. So heres MY official movie review since I saw
the movie AND read the Book:
The room was filled with some of the biggest names in the Nashville entertainment
industry: producers, songwriters, TV and radio personalities, print media,
publicists, country music artists (with a few Christian music folks thrown
in)--not a typical night at the movies for my husband and me. Then again,
this isnt a typical movie.
Country music entertainer Ricky Skaggs began the night with a prayer
that the movie would change people. He nodded to someone in the back of
the room. The lights went out and the movie started. Less than ten minutes
later you could hear sobs across the room.
As the story unfolded and the brutality of what we were watching set
in--you could not only hear tender sniffs but moans--mourning, I think.
I heard a weeping voice say, Im sorry, Lord. Forgive me, Lord. I will
never forget it--the sobs and moans of us in the room co-mingled with
the pain played out on the screen.
Our cries became part of the soundtrack.
I had invited my pastor and my brother (also a pastor). These men, who
have dedicated their lives to, "Go ye unto all the world and preach the
gospel ...," stirred in their chairs as the impact of the greatest story
ever told was projected through a piece of magnetic tape and onto a large
screen. All that was taking place on and off the screen mesmerized each
one of us.
When the movie was over no one moved. It was as if the room could not
take a breath. A few minutes passed and a man stepped up to the microphone
as the lights came on and quietly asked, "Do you have any questions?"
he said, "Well ... maybe Mel could answer your questions." Mel Gibson
walked in the room and we stood and clapped but he shook off the applause,
fanned it away, then sat on the steps to the platform and raked his fingers
through his hairkind of quirky, as if embarrassed because we kept clapping.
I looked at my pastor and said, "I wonder if he has a clue of what he
has just done? He has just unleashed hell on himself."
People began to fire questions at him right and left. My husband asked
him an artistic question about the role of the Roman guards, someone asked
about the role of Satan.
Others had questions about lighting, music, and filming difficulties,
miracles on the set, his marketing plan, distribution outlets, etc.
When asked what his goal is for the movie, what he hopes people will
glean from it, he said, "I hope they watch the movie and want to read
the Book. I hope they are changed."
When asked what he's doing to combat the persecution in getting this
movie out he said, "You know, I just pray for my enemies. I don't pray
for curses on their heads. I pray the good angels will go beat up the
bad angels that are making them say and do evil deeds."
To tell you the truth, I thought his innocent understanding of spiritual
warfare was refreshing. Heres a man who spent millions of dollars
of his own money, risked his reputation, laid his career on the line and
when asked to explain Why? he says, Because, I just had to do it.
Weeks after sending my review to my database I am still answering questions
about the movie, and Im not Siskel or Roeper--Im just a comedian. Funny
thing is, people still do what people have always done--get bogged down
in details, specifics, and arguments.
Often someone will ask if the movie is true to scripture. My pastor gave
it three thumbs up (and he only has two!)
Folks ask where does Mel Gibson stand on this issue and that?
Someone even asked me if I think Mel Gibson is going to heaven? They
asked ME? Im a comedian, not the Gate Keeper.
I can tell you this: This is a brutal movie. To express artistically
what Christ went through, what the act of scourging is like, what a crucifixion
looks like, you have to be brutal.
Much of the Christian community seems up in arms about that--an 'R'-rated,
But if an 'R'-rating were the sole criteria for missing this movie--then
in the name of consistency I would also suggest that pastors not preach
any sermons about David. Or Moses. Or Adam and Eve. Or Paul. Or Noah.
Or Peter. Get my point?
Maybe Christians who oppose this movie are looking for a more touchy-feely
expression of our faith. We want to woo the public with words like "love"
and "grace" and a tender understanding of mercy and compassion.
We dont talk about the Cross of Christ. We dont want to offend anyone,
upset their senses or make them uncomfortable. Believe me, as a comedian
I get the big picture of a seeker-friendly faith.
But I love my pastors observations. He said, This is not just an evangelistic
opportunity but a great wake-up call for the Church.
I just laughed. What a sense of humor God has! The Church awakened by
a Hollywood superstar! Now, thats funny!
My movie review of The Passion of the Christ
is as simple as Show and Tell: You can tell others about Christ. You
can tell folks you love Him. You can tell people why we are Christians.
You can tell them that the blood of Jesus has been shed for them.
And you can show them.
You can show them by the way you live, you can show them by the way you
love--and now you can buy them a ticket, take them to a movie and show
them what Jesus Christ did for them.
After viewing the movie, my pastor took a deep breath and said, "Yes,
I'm going. And I'm taking as many people with me as I can." (Which
is remarkably similar to what he says about heaven!)
Used with permission, Pastors.com.
Comedian Chonda Pierce attends World
Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and viewed The Passion
of The Christ with her pastor, Allen Jackson.
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