On Weirdness and Skeptics
Let me tell you what’s weird. You spend two years of your life making a movie you originally never wanted to make (the subject matter, your lack of experience and finances, fear that you will be found out as a total storytelling moron, among other reasons), you travel all over the world filming things you have never even heard of, let alone thought were the norm, then you put it all together and present it to the world in as unassuming a package you can. This is what I saw. This is what I experienced. I hope you like it.
No, that’s not the weird part. The weird part is what is now happening at nearly every single public showing of this film. I say "nearly" because I haven’t heard from every person who has shown it. But every showing I know of has ended with God showing up in amazing, profound, and (yes) sometimes weird ways.
I am officially losing track of the testimonies that continue to flood in from people who have been changed through this little film. I hesitate to say that the film is changing people, but it is certainly becoming apparent that the film seems to create a sense of faith in the room that would normally never have been there. The people then come together and pray for one another with faith levels going through the roof, and, well, God shows up. Spines are being healed, backs are being healed, hearts are being healed, depression is being lifted, demonic oppression is being broken, salvations are happening, whole churches are being transformed…I cannot begin to express to you the humbling shock I feel everyday when another testimony comes into my email box.
I have also heard of people being rocked to their core while watching the film alone, but for some reason, the film is at its best when viewed in a group. I never liked the idea of a piece of media being used as a tool for salvation. For example, when The Passion of the Christ came out a few years ago, it was hailed as the "greatest evangelistic tool ever created." Well, it was certainly powerful and wonderful, but I always found it kind of weird that so many churches kept pushing everyone to bring their unsaved friends to this movie…as if the movie was going to do the work for them. Last time I checked, God was a God of community, of relationships. The movies are not supposed to do our job for us.
But I’m beginning to realize they certainly do help. My movie is simply a documentation of the kingdom of God coming to fruition here on earth. While the power of testimony that lies within the film certainly brings people a rawness of faith they may never have known before, the big things are only happening when the body comes together and prays for one another. So keep watching the film in groups, and no matter what, keep praying for each other!
Which leads me to my final thought. The positive responses have far, far outweighed any negative responses to the film, and as an artist, that makes me happy. But I am still running into my fair share of skeptics afterwards. This by no means bothers me, as I was one of those skeptics when I began this whole journey. I’m a University professor; I use my brain for a living. I analyze things to death. I have been trained to "unpack" everything of consequence I encounter.
But the skeptics are interesting to me–probably because I see so much of myself in them. Without fail, every single skeptical conversation I’ve had with someone after they’ve seen my film has started with these words: "Now understand, I TOTALLY believe that God can do whatever He wants to do, and that He’s capable of doing these things…but…" And I know what’s coming. Some iteration of "how do I know" or "who’s to say" or "why would God".
My answer is always the same. It’s the same way I decided on what would be included in the film or not. Look at the fruit. As Jesus said, no bad tree can bear good fruit, and here I’ve got an email box full of testimonies, in other words, fruit, from the things portrayed in this film. When I was filming them, I was able to see firsthand the fruit that came from them.
Most people struggle the most with the first 15 minutes. The Gold teeth, gold dust, manna, and gemstones. Why would God do such a thing? Many ask why He only does that in America? First off, this happens in other countries around the world just as much as it happens here. I only filmed it in America. But instead of getting into an argument about the logic of God’s decisions, I’ve come to a place (probably because I was there and have had two years to process what the majority of my audience has two hours to process) where I can simply step back, hold my hands up, and say, quite honestly, I don’t know. But I do know that those gold teeth are showing thousands and thousands of people that God knows them personally and loves them very much. That gold dust is causing people to revere God more than they ever have. That manna brought the people who ate it healing and freedom, and brought them closer into God’s heart. Those gemstones are teaching people about the extravagance of God–about His extravagant love for them.
I look at that fruit, and I no longer have any doubts.
But I’m sure the conversations will continue, and people will continue to be blinded by the first 15 minutes because their mind has been offended, and their heart is being revealed.
As for me, I’m going to be about my Father’s business.
Love and freedom and grace and peace.