THE PASSION – A Challenge to the CHURCH

-by Andrew Strom.

I had the privilege of seeing an advance screening of the ‘Passion’ movie at a local cinema last night. It is strange, because yesterday I started getting emails from Christians claiming that the film is a kind of ‘Catholic conspiracy’ and vowing that they would never see it. What hogwash! GO SEE THE MOVIE!!
Sure, there is the odd moment when there is a slight ‘Catholic’ tinge to things, but it is almost nothing. This film is a majestic and powerful viewing experience that will cause a lot of people to truly consider the claims of Jesus – perhaps for the first time.

Could it cause backslidden believers to turn back to Christ? Yes, I believe so. Could it cause a whole lot of people to start checking out their local churches? Yes, I can certainly see that happening. It is a very powerful film, and I believe God desires to use it greatly.

But here is the crux of the problem. The churches simply cannot carry the ‘weight’ of this movie. By and large, they represent a different “Jesus” altogether from the one that we see torn and battered in the gospel accounts. A church that has bent over backwards to make its services a “Seeker-friendly” mix of warm homilies and entertaining slickness, has nothing to say to a generation that is seeking the true Jesus of the Bible.

It is just like what happened after 9-11. The people came flooding into the churches seeking a faith that could bear the ‘weight’ of the momentous events unfolding around them. And they found we had erected a plastic imitation – a shallow, lightweight “Jesus” – complete with ambient ‘muzak’ and mindless appeals for money. A comfortable Western counterfeit of the real thing. They did not stay for long. And why should things be any different this time?

Every day we hear reports of big churches buying up large blocks of tickets and urging their people to use this film as an “outreach opportunity”. I believe it is an ‘inreach opportunity’. -A chance for us to look into the face of Christ and find that our shallow pretense of Christianity bears no relation to the real thing whatsoever.

We are nothing like Him – we really aren’t.

How incongruous that we plan to use this blood-spattered, shatteringly ‘real’ movie to invite people back to our comfortable, plush-seated crematoriums – there to be wooed by our utterly “unreal” Sunday pantomimes. I don’t think they will be staying long this time either.

As I said, today’s Western church simply cannot bear the ‘weight’ of this movie. It stops our mouths, just as it stops theirs. Our “Jesus” comes out looking like a cheap used-car salesman – for that is what we have made him. We invented him to perfectly fit our ‘Laodicean’ lifestyle. And so we sit in our lovely buildings with our lovely music and our lovely smiles, wondering why the world cannot get as excited as we do by this plastic Jesus of ours. Meantime, all the earth sighs and groans for the real thing.

Tell me, church, don’t you think it is possible that God intends this movie to challenge us,just as it challenges the unbelievers? Will we be deaf to the voice of God, or will we allow him to begin to dismantle this plastic edifice that we have built – this prison of our own making that prevents us from representing the real Jesus as He really is?

Surely the time has come for another ‘Great Reformation’ in the church. May this movie be just one of many “shakings” that is sent to remove the blinders from our eyes.

God bless you all.

-Andrew Strom.

Copyright (c) Andrew Strom, 2004. Feel free to distribute or photocopy.

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Posted in Articles by Andrew on January 8th, 2011 at 1:49 am.

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