“For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it..” Galatians 1:13 ESV
The name of the movie I was watching the other day was “Unconditional” and, unlike many Christian-themed movies, this one was actually pretty good. While the messages are most often worth the time invested in watching these films, there are numerous problems with the production of many faith-based films, the most common of which is usually lack of adequate funding, but there are other issues as well.
Prominent among them is what appears to be an unwillingness to portray sin as provocatively, seductively, pleasurably and alluringly as it most assuredly is. From what I have seen, there is often a central theme of sin, but the films in which the sin is portrayed usually do a poor job of making it attractive, which takes away from the realism.
After all, sin is slickly packaged and difficult to resist, which is why it is so popular. I think it is important to portray it that way and then peal away the mask and expose the destructive evil that lies beneath the surface. Mind you, I am not calling for a glorification of sin. However, it is important to ‘tell it like it is’ when we are trying to keep others from sinning, or when we are trying to lead others out of it.
For example, there is no denying the pleasures that can be experienced while engaged in sexual acts, nor should such a denial be offered or inferred, but it must be pointed out that it is selfish acts of instant gratification society now views as ‘normal’ which constitute the sin that is being packaged, not the pleasure itself, and far too often the message is handled poorly, particularly in faith-based movies.
I lived a life allowing myself to be tricked into believing the lies that were packaged and presented to me in the most seductive, alluring ways. For 40 years I wallowed in a sewer of sin that didn’t appear to me to be a sewer at all. Quite the contrary. I thought I was swimming in a a pool of beautiful, crystal-clear water. That is, until I awoke in the hospital the day after my nearly successful suicide attempt. “And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight…” Acts 9:18 ESV
Of course, the clarity with which I would come to view the life I had lived would not come fully into focus for some time yet, but my ability to see my sin for what it was, and to see the way out of sin was clear. I first needed to shut my eyes to the sinful life I had lived, and it would take a little time, and a lot of prayer, before I could open them up to my past and learn from it.
“But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.” Galatians 1:15-17 NLT
For me, “Arabia” was the federal prison in Oakdale, LA and it appears that my ‘Damascus’ turned out to be Washington, DC.
How many people travel on their own “Road to Damascus” without incident or interruption? Would I have wanted to continue down the same road I was headed without that confrontation? The scars on my neck, and the way God is using me today in Washington, ‘D’-is-for-Damascus C, speak to that quite loudly and quite clearly.
If my life were to be made into a movie, it would have to be ‘R’ rated, because my life was rated ‘X’ (at least) and the only way to adequately understand and appreciate the Victory of Christ over sin, is to portray the sin as provocatively as possible and then rip the scales off peoples’ eyes, let them see it in all of its bloody, destructive, life-stealing truth, and then compare it to the new life that can follow when the dust settles and the road becomes clear again.
Take a couple of minutes to enjoy the following video. I bet there are words in there that will resonate with you, and images that will seem familiar. For me, some of those words are, “I’m finally here. It’s been a long Road to Damascus.”