I am being drilled as to why I won’t go.
I want to know why you would go.
I cannot believe that you would be going for entertainment. How could you be entertained at the expense of Christ’s crucifixion? Nor can I believe that you are going for intellectual elucidation. You can get what you need in reading material with more accuracy than what could possibly be depicted in a film. I hope that you are not going just to be part of the crowd. Most of you are honest enough to admit that there is a hope for some kind of spiritual stimulation, devotion, and blessing in the viewing of Gibson’s film. And that is why many of you are going.
But, if you are a believer, what are you looking for that you don’t already have? What does this film promise that we can’t already claim? Jesus Christ is the fullness of the glory of God and we are complete in Him (Colossians 2:9-10). If we think that we are advantaged by this film in any way whatsoever, then we make God a liar in that He has said that we are blessed in Christ Jesus with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). Our enthusiasm for this film has been so overboard that we are ready to crown Mel Gibson above Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and the thousands of others who could not bring evangelism like this worldly man has done. We are so eager to go see this film today that we say, by our statements, that those who came before us were unfortunate to not have this opportunity that we enjoy.
Prior to today, we have not been disadvantaged one bit. We are blessed with all the blessings of the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). If you choose to watch this film you are lending credence to the suggestion that those who had the misfortune of living before Mel Gibson had no advantage — because, even if you don’t believe it, millions do. The satisfaction of the soul is not in a surge of emotion, it is in worshipful walk.
You don’t need a “worship experience,” my friend. If you are a child of God, you are deceived to think that you need that experience. What your soul craves for is communion with God. If you have been given the Spirit of Adoption, your heart is crying out “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). It wants fellowship, closeness, and communion, not a worship experience or a boost. But you are like me, perhaps — your battle is that you have been so diluted by worldly ambitions, worldly goals, and worldly expectations that you are tempted to jeopardize your spiritual health on steroids instead of going to the manna from Heaven that God has provided. “Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not constantly delight and rejoice in God. There is still in them a resistance to walking close with God.” Oh, that we would get off the trendy worship bandwagon, and get back on track with God’s invitation to communion with Him! Then we would finally learn the glory of true worship.
Why are you going? If you plan to stimulate your devotion for God, why have you not done it with the means that He has provided? Why are you choosing Mel Gibson’s provision? If you have to go for the experience, if you go to stir your heart, if you need to increase your appreciation, how little you understand your sins. There is a solution that is far more enriching. I have experienced it in my soul over and over in the past few years. It’s communion with God restored by repentance, renewal, and restoration. No film can replace the solemn glory of private communion and the swelling heart when you, in the privacy of your closet, find yourself to be accepted in the Beloved One. There is nothing so sweet as when He wipes your tears of sorrow with His own reassuring Spirit. When, my friend — when before Ash Wednesday, 2004 — before you had this available to you, would you go to a theater to get a boost for something you have not maintained all along? I am grieved that so many readily admit to their expectation of a worship experience. You shall get your experience. You shall get your boost. But if you are in Christ Jesus, truly regenerated, your soul craves the Manna from heaven — not man-made steroids.
I am sorry for you, my friends. I am not angry, nor is my spirit judgmental. I am saddened by the plight of Christianity in this country. I must tell you something that might anger you. Your relationship to Christ lacks much if you “need to” go see this film.
You will get the rush you look for, for sure. Many get an emotional surge from films even when they are not looking for it. So, those that look for it will get it. You will get the promised emotion. You will get the thrill. But you will not be any closer to God then you were before. You will be hardened in your sins, Christian, unless you come to Jesus the only way He asks you to come — with a broken and contrite heart, confessing your sins, repenting. Christian, why are you going? Please don’t respond to me as if I am a killjoy merely because I am pleading with you to look for something better. It is that your joy may be full, that I implore you to know Him as He would be known. I don’t need the film. I don’t want it. I don’t encourage it. And you don’t need it. The Christ that saved us is so sweet to my soul even this moment as I write that I cannot endure to see a sinful human pretend to be Him.
Do you think that there will be many long-lasting results because people have finally seen with their eyes what they could not see before? Are you one of those people who think that the disciples and the early church had an advantage over us because they actually saw with their eyes the Lord of glory? Is that why you believe this film will have a great effect on the souls of men? Nowhere in Scripture is it even hinted that those who saw Christ personally had some advantage over those of us who have not seen Him. In fact, this assumption would contradict fundamental doctrine (John 20:29). Please, friends, please. Have you thought about how effective actual physical sight was for the people in Christ’s day?
What are you expecting? Peter, having seen Jesus, walked on water for a few feet. Then he lost faith and began to fall.
What are you expecting? The disciples, having seen healings innumerable, dead raised to life, leprosy cleansed, and having seen Jesus in person fled when He was led to the cross.
What are you expecting? The disciples, having touched the resurrected Lord, felt His wounds, heard His voice, abandoned their posts and took up their old lifestyles when He did not appear to them as soon as they expected.
What are you expecting? The brothers of Jesus, having seen His miracles and having witnessed His grace and truth still claimed he was mad.
What are you expecting? What more do you “need” that you don’t already have provided for you? And, if you have all you need, why would you go — when this cannot possibly result in much less than confusion for millions of people? Why not help the cause of Christ out by saying, “I am complete in Him already!”
What more did the Pharisees need? They saw the miracles, they witnessed the healings, they had seen these things. But it was not enough. They wanted more. They had to have more. Christ did not bend to their persistent pleas for a sign — because he knew them. All the spectacular signs in the world would not convince them of anything as long as He continued to present Himself as the Son of God, the Lord of all, the One who had absolute right to rule them. The Pharisees did not want Christ to be the Christ; and it is Christ, as the Son of God and Lord of our lives who is offensive and unacceptable. Present him to every movie-goer, and you will find that most do not want that. “Give me another film, make another movie,” they will say, “ then perhaps I will be convinced.”
Now, this is the serious part. Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ really limits itself to the only acceptable part of Christ to a godless world — His death. In fact, this is the most acceptable part of the Christ to this sinful world since it approves of it. We put Him to death; and that is the part that will make money in theaters. It is not His claim to be Lord and His call to repentance or the hope of His resurrection that will draw millions to the movie-house.
So why do you go?
Oh, my Christian friend, if you expect a devotional charge from this movie, you will not get it from Christ. It is He who told us to fellowship with Him in our closets (Matthew 6:6). It is He who has said that we are to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:21). He will not share His glory with anyone, any film, or any place. The minute you expect to worship there because of the film, you have spurned His riches that were available to you yesterday, and are still available to you at this very minute. He will not bless those of you that sin against the light by going to the movie who should know by now that the fullness of Christ is fellowship with Him in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16).
It is possible to be in the best of denominations, the best of churches, and in the best of occupations and have a parched and thirsty soul. In the busyness of life you have lost Him. The little foxes have crept in and spoiled the vine. Communion with God is a distant memory. The Spirit of Adoption moves in the deepest parts of you, seemingly suffocating under your piles of activies, do-good-isms, and lifestyle.
Please don’t go to the movie. Go after Christ where He can be found. If you have lost His presence in the night of your backslidden state, do as the Bride in the Song of Solomon. Don’t give rest to your soul until you have found Him all by Himself, in His glory and fullness in the place where He waits for you. And then, do as I struggle to do, as she did: “I held him and would not let him go” (Song 3:4). Be a lover, be a friend, and find out what He wants.
Have you asked Him what He would like? Suppose you nearly died in a rescue effort to save someone you long to be friends with. Would you like it if that person insisted on looking at a friend’s sketch of what that rescue effort looked like even though the artist had never personally witnessed it and, by his life actions, clearly showed that he enjoyed doing things that went against your desires? Would your heart not be broken if you were constantly available for a lively and open communion with the one you rescued, but he kept looking at pictures, drawings, and newspaper articles to try to conjure up an appreciation for what you had done? Wouldn’t you want to cry out to him that if he would only talk to you, hear you, and learn to like the same things you like, that his heart would start pounding with an unstoppable love? If he looked into your eyes and felt your warmth of affection — wouldn’t he find a joy unrelenting, and a satisfaction in you that would elevate his appreciation for your sacrifice to heights that were completely impossible when he looked at the historical data? My friend, I urge you to ask the Lord Jesus what He would prefer!
Is He glorified as people gape open-mouthed and aghast at a man’s imagined reproduction of His humiliation? Is He glorified that details which He chose to leave out of His sacred memoirs are added to the most horrific event of world history? Is He glorified when people from all kinds of conflicting faiths merge together to seek a sign from a cinematic crucifix that has boiled down the gospel to its lowest common denominator — that fact that Jesus died? Is He glorified when His message is not preached — “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?” Is He glorified that millions of dollars will be reaped for an industry that has systematically and routinely defied His commandments, even though He has made it explicitly clear that those who love Him will keep His commandments? How come it does not disturb the millions of evangelicals who are going to see this film that the maker produced movies in recent years (during the making of this film) that are unacceptable for those who would live godly in Christ Jesus?
The burden of proof is upon you, my friends. Not me. Most of the Christian heroes you admire from Church history would not go. Not only because they would not want to be a stumbling block to weaker Christians, not only because of the possibility of violating the Second Commandment, but — most importantly — because they wouldn’t “need to.”
If your heart is cold, if you have been insensitive to the things of God — do what He has urged all along. Come to Him, repent of your sins, ask Him to cleanse you and restore to you the joy of your salvation. Do not dishonor Him by going to this movie. Truly, there is no communion like actual communion with a living person.
I am being drilled as to why I won’t go.
I want to know why you would go.