To understand this post, you first need to watch this video
and you need to read Fred Butler’s post concerning the above video.
It has taken me a few weeks to get to this due to general business, and I wanted to give it the attention I feel like it deserves. I am going to disagree with you and your commenters (generally speaking), and I have seen too many comment threads degenerate quickly so I wanted to formulate my thoughts and share them in a compassionate yet bold and I hope persuasive way. I trust you will read my entire response and evaluate each of the things I say on their own merit, not based on your poor opinion of an earlier statement I make or my inability to properly and lovingly communicate.
I’m going to start by looking at the things you said in your blog. Then I will offer my own interpretation of the video followed by a bit of disclosure.
As far as your point #1 goes, I agree. “I do not have a problem with the use of drama to illustrate spiritual truth.” I believe this is the crux of the issue. I surmise that you do not believe the “Everything” skit met these criteria: “I, however, am fine with drama as long as it does not detract from the centrality of the word being taught from the pulpit and the skits performed are theologically accurate, biblical, and tastefully done.” I will argue later that this video meets the criteria sufficiently.
Your point #2 made an odd comparison which, assuming you are correct about the futility of the video would be a valid point. My personal offense comes as I probably cry or weep 75% of the time I’ve watched the video. I found it sad, assuming I’m just a weaker brother that you would be appalled, rather than, at the least, have pity on me.
#3 was entertaining and brought back memories of my own junior high school and high school experiences. Wit is one of your strong suits and you usually use it effectively for God.
Point #4 has truth to it. But how many videos did you watch? In my internet search for more information about the skit, I was actually a bit surprised to find that there have been groups that have performed this skit with a male, as you suggest. There was thoughtful conversation about how to modify it to make it make sense in that context. In fact, I was pleased to see that the “dancing” was changed in those cases. Dancing between a man and a woman makes sense and is done tastefully in this case, in my opinion. There is nothing sensual or sexual, just fellowship. In fact, when I first read your point #4, all I could think is how much you would have had an even bigger problem if they had actually had a man dancing with Jesus.
I don’t think the fact that this particular youth group used a young woman in the skit should have any bearing on one’s judgment of the skit’s merit. In fact, I would question a youth group skit where the main character wasn’t a youth. I would find that odd. Whether less attractive or less nymph-like ladies were rejected, I don’t know. I thought the girl did a fine job in the role she was asked to play, so her relative nymph-i-ness seems to only be a stumbling block to you.
I wonder if it bothered you that Kirk Cameron was a good looking guy in Fireproof. Maybe they should get actors that look more like you and me and see how many people attend movies. 🙂
Your point #5, I believe is accurate and misplaced and incomplete.
I’ll stipulate that you will agree with me that your point is accurate. We become sober minded and more aware of sin – often at differing paces. In your case, you were saved from false conversion and had immediate knowledge of much of the things of God. People I’ve met like this seem to immediately see the error of so many of their ways and quickly understand concepts like Lordship. It seems, in many ways, that is the main thing you (false converts who get saved) lacked. You run from the “Jesus is my buddy mindset,” but I would argue that is more a reaction to the extreme of your past than a directed holiness.
I believe your point is misplaced, because, as I will show, I do not believe the girl gets saved in the song in the beginning as you seem to believe. I believe she is saved AFTER the point where the Jesus figure in the story takes on her sin and defeats it and she realized this. And frankly, I have no problem with the initial reaction of someone realizing God’s amazing love for them to be enraptured with Jesus and his friend-li-ness toward them. Jesus did, in fact, become my BEST FRIEND the day I was saved and I do not regret that fact, nor am I ashamed of it. I do not thing His love toward a believer and the believer’s desire and obligation to find joy in that love actually detracts from neither His Lordship nor holiness. I think you may be picking up on the fact that that is the only thing portrayed here, so if you want to say it is in some way an incomplete message, I won’t argue with that. But most messages are incomplete in some way, due to time limitations. The Sermon on the Mount isn’t the best explanation of the book of Esther – and that’s ok.
So your criticism is incomplete because you focus on only what is missing from the skit, rather than commending the truth and goodness portrayed. The fact that this skit didn’t represent your experience of salvation doesn’t make it inaccurate. It should be judged on its own merit and by the standard you set above: “theologically accurate, biblical, and tastefully done.”
#6 – I’d agree with you if I believed that this was a story of a sinning child of God. I do not. I believe this is a story of a person redeemed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and, like the woman caught in adultery in John 8, is not condemned for her sin, just as no child of God is under condemnation according to Romans 8:1.
Now, hopefully you are not offended. I did not mean to be rude or harsh and I am open to correction. In cases where I judged you unrighteously, please forgive me and correct my opinions. I do not want you to think I’m attacking you, just having a conversation (in large chunks).
Here is my interpretation –
The video starts with the young lady wearing a black shirt. This is very important. The black shirt represents the stain of original sin. She spends the first minute and 27 seconds of the song being given life by the one who gives life, Jesus. She enjoys the wondrous beauty of the world He’s created as He provides movement, flowers, food and even some knowledge of Himself which all nonbelievers have. I would contend that she doesn’t truly feel grateful for God like it says in Romans 1:21.
Then at the minute and 27 seconds point in the song a young man representing sin enters. He represents lust and separates her from God even more tangibly. From this point there is a dramatic representation of many of the temptations that we encounter. A love for money, a desire for debauchery and drunkenness, the self-centered sin of comparing ourselves to others’ outsides leading to bulimia in order to be attractive to others. Finally, a demonic force enters and puts it on her mind to begin cutting. So many of these things are common to youth. I suppose sins like lying and stealing and disobedience could be portrayed as well with some creative choreography.
Ultimately, the weight of the sin drives this girl to simply want to die. By God’s grace, she hates her life so much that she can’t imagine living any longer in this way. It is the ultimate act of God hating though, to take one’s own life it to put oneself in the place of God and commit murder.
Now, at the moment of deepest despair, this lost and weary sinner remembers that there is a God who cares. She might not know much about Him, but she throws down the gun to look for him. It is at this point that the skit is unfortunately zoomed in. In my Calvinistic mind, I imagine Jesus calling her before she starts to run toward him. This is at the 3:48 mark. And you can see from that point that the Jesus figure is pulling her. She isn’t fighting by her own power. Her own will would have kept her in sin or killed herself. No, by His irresistible grace, Jesus pulls her to Him.
But her flesh and her sin will not let that happen easily. As much as she strives to reach God by her own strength, she cannot do it. Then at 4:32, the Jesus figure throws down the invisible rope he was using to pull her toward Himself and simply steps in and takes on all of her sin.
But it is not without a battle. The sin pounds on him and attacks him for 20 seconds of the song. You can see Him taking it all on and it has no power to even touch her anymore. At this point, you will notice a change. She is wearing a white garment. NOW, she’s been washed clean by Christ’s substitution. She is NOW a new creature and, methinks, realizing the depth of the sin from which she was saved, she reacts the way the Bible says she will react, with love toward the One who bought her with His own blood. There is a sense that I get from the video that once Jesus takes on and pays for your sin, it is dead!
This babe in Christ then shows him the proper gratitude and enjoys sweet fellowship with Him. I would propose to you that this interpretation is valid and meets the criteria you provided sufficiently. I think it tells a salvation story and does it well enough. I think if it is the only gospel someone hears…it would be insufficient, but for in and of itself, it does very well.
Finally, I will disclose that this video was effectively the first date of my bride and me. The day we met “on the phone,” we watching this video together. I reacted much like you, thinking it strange. I didn’t like a person portraying Jesus (which I now don’t believe he is). But my new girlfriend liked it, so I watched it a little. It grew on me and I came to like it, particularly because she enjoyed it with me. So I have some emotional attachment which I believe doesn’t taint my evaluation of the content.
Ultimately, I do not believe that the video is sinful, nor do I believe that it would cause someone to sin. I find it to be accurate enough to be considered a good representation of a biblical principle. I would not recommend it as an evangelistic tool, but for Christians who are saved to see a drama reminding them of the great salvation they’ve received through faith in Christ.