This week my wife and I were selected to participate in the screening of a new Christian movie titled The War Room created by the Kendrick brothers (Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants). We’ve participated in these events before and they’re a whole lot of fun for movie buffs like us. You actually get to be a movie critic. A marketing company has you watch the movie at a selected theater with a selected audience before it’s released and then fill out a questionnaire afterwards to get your take on it. If they get too many negative opinions from the screening audience on certain aspects of the movie they’ll actually go back and reedit or reshoot some scenes to improve it. This was the first time for us that the movie we viewed was a Christian flick.
I don’t want to review this movie yet because I want to wait until the final cut is complete. They may end up changing many of the things that bothered me. I doubt it, but I do believe in miracles. I’ll just say the version I saw had all the usual problems that plague Christian movies. Those problems are: they’re too preachy, the message is forced and feels unnatural/unrealistic, they have a cheesy TV movie feel, they tell instead of show (this isn’t radio, it’s film), and they don’t treat their audiences as being intelligent by over explaining everything instead of letting the audience connect the dots and have the thrill of discovery. However, many of the people in the audience that were obviously Christians seemed to love it. Their cheers and other reactions made that quite apparent.
Over the next few days I was bothered by my experience at the theater and I had a difficult time verbalizing why. I mean it’s just a movie, and a clean one at that. We’ve all seen corny movies, so what’s the big deal? But there was something bigger going on here that really grieved me. What was grieving me wasn’t just the movie alone. Rather the movie was merely the symptom of a much bigger more wide spread problem plaguing Christianity that has gone on for decades. And most folks don’t only tolerate it, they’re so blind to it they participate in it, identify with it, and cheer it on. The thing I’m talking about is mixture.
Christians for centuries have been fed a concoction of Jesus plus a whole bunch of crap that is horrid for them. Christians with any level of discernment would never drink the crap by its self, so just enough Jesus is mixed in with it to make it palatable and down the hatch it goes! After drinking the elixir long enough people can’t even tell Jesus from the crap. They actually have linked the two and think they’re one and the same. I could show a crowd Jesus and they’d cheer. Then I could show them some religious chains and they’d cheer just as loudly. I could show them a pitcher filled with water from the springs of life and they’d cheer. And I could show them a pitcher filled with religious poison and they’d cheer.
I can’t even put into words strong enough just how blind and accepting many people are of the mixture. They can’t even see that they are putting weights and burdens on people. They can’t see they are shackling them and stripping them of their identities in Christ. They can’t see they are moving in the exact opposite direction from God’s heart. And there comes a point that many have reached that when Jesus Himself shows up mixed with nothing they can’t stand Him. They can’t even recognize Him apart from the crap that they’ve been fed. They turn and call Him and His ways heresy. They ridicule those who drink of only Him as being heretics, embittered, and spiritually dangerous. They’ve become drunk on the elixir of religious obligation. They’re in love with mutant Jesus and all his demands, rules, regulations, and quests for power and prestige. Just as the Israelites worshipped the false god Ba’al, confusing him with the living God, so many Christians worship mutant Jesus as being the real Jesus. For these Christians, trying to peal the real Jesus away from all the crap is like trying to peal two pieces of duct tape apart that are stuck together on their sticky sides. In their minds Jesus IS the religious nonsense and the religious nonsense IS Jesus.
This so breaks my heart beyond words. This is the message the movie was carrying, but it’s an ever so common and widely accepted message. It’s Jesus plus chains. Jesus plus burdens. Jesus plus the law. Jesus plus death. And of course many Christians are so accustomed to the mixture they cheer on the message. For me, I ache. I weep. I grieve. And I write. And I create podcasts. And I produce videos. And I connect with other brothers and sisters in Christ who have embraced Jesus alone. All with the deep desire and dream that one day the mixture will no longer be tolerated. That those who have been drunk on the elixir will grow sick of it, throw it out, sober up, and drink of Jesus alone. I yearn to see a people who shed the nonsense, live in Christ’s liberty, and love as He loved. There are many of them out there. But I can’t be still until all my brothers and sisters are free. This is my passion. I may not see it in my life time. But I’ve felt for years that this is a big reason why I’m on this planet. This is what I see my Father doing and I’m happy to labor along side Him in His vineyard.
Twenty-one years ago Father gave me Isaiah 45 as the passage for my life. He’s confirmed it numerous times by numerous people since. It was written during the time of Israel’s captivity in Babylon. It’s about God breaking the gates of Babylon before Cyrus and giving him the treasures of hidden darkness for the sake of Israel His chosen.