Monday, March 19, 2007

The Jesus We Want to Believe In

Last year at about this time, it was The DaVinci Code – Ron Howard’s slick film from the Dan Brown novel about the quest for a Jesus who married, had a child, then an earthly dynasty.

This year it was The Lost Tomb of Jesus, the not-so-slick James Cameron documentary about the discovery of a tomb with ossuaries (small stone coffins for bones) marked “Jesus Son of Joseph,” “Mary,” “Mariamne” which was catapulted into a theory remarkably similar to the DaVinci Code fiction.

There was a time when television networks and movie studios would show or release movies during the Easter season like King of Kings or The Greatest Story Ever Told or even the comparatively anemic Jesus of Nazareth. Then they backed off of those and just showed an occasional The Bible in the Beginning or The Ten Commandments. I don’t think we can blame them, though. They’re just giving the viewing public what they’ll watch and what will sell commercial time. And viewers will watch something about a Jesus who’s easy to believe in.

This “Jesus” isn’t both human and divine – he’s just human. He lives. He teaches. He has a normal life. He dies. It’s a sad and tragic death, but that’s all. End of story.

It isn’t a life that draws one emulate. So the teachings aren’t anything that one feels compelled to obey, or follow, or even listen to. This “Jesus” is a good Jesus, but not a perfect Jesus. He’s acceptable to Jew, Muslim, agnostic, atheist. He doesn’t make demands of selflessness or sacrifice or spirituality on people.
Perhaps, more than ever before, that is why it is so crucial for those of us who follow Christ become more dedicated to telling His Story.

There have been studios in recent years which have dared to tell its beginning (The Nativity Story) and its second beginning (The Passion of the Christ) but very little or nothing in-between ... or after. We can’t – and shouldn’t – count on Hollywood to do our job for us. It’s our privilege and our gift to share that truth.

And the time is now.

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