Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mel Gibson and the Sovereignty of God

When I reflect on Mel Gibson's behavior, I wonder how could such a person could have produced a necessary film such as, The Passion of the Christ? Firstly, let me put forth some assumptions that one may agree with or not.

The Passion of the Christ put the suffering of Jesus into a true historical context that is often lost on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Jesus did not just hang on a cross quoting from the Old Testament waiting for Easter to come along. His fate was a horror. For those of us who are Christian believers, the suffering of Jesus as the propitiation for our sins, is essential to our salvation. Gibson removed the sugar coating so we can taste Christ's death. Hence, I would recommend The Passion to anyone who asks what is Good Friday about. So one assumption I am making is Gibson contributed to the Christian understanding of what Jesus did for humankind by allowing us a front row seat at His execution.

The second assumption I will also make is that the very man who made this very film that I believe is worth seeing is not a Christian. Jesus, the Man who died for our sins, also spent a few years teaching on God's will for us. Much of Christ's teaching deals with our behavior, the fruit of our heart. We will be judged by how we treat others, what we say and how we allow our heart to express itself. In other words, we are to bear fruit worthy of repentance. (Luke 3:8) This is not works righteousness but rather we will be judged on whether or not our heart has been regenerated. A heart is regenerated by the Holy Spirit following the will of God and produces fruit in accordance with the Spirit. An unregenerate heart remains dead, void of the Spirit of God. And therefore, the works of the flesh remain evident. All of this is the supernatural work of God. Humans can not make this happen by our own initiative. (John 3) So based on what we know of Mr. Gibson's behavior, he has yet to show a repentant heart. I will not go into past tabloid allegations suffice it to say his latest public drama shows no improvement from previous verbal utterances not to mention his flagrant fornication. So how could such a person have made such a fruitful movie such as The Passion of the Christ?

My answer is God will glorify Himself in spite of us! God does not desire for us to behave based on our carnal nature. Hence, the need for a spiritual rebirth. But God will use all people for His purpose and His glory. Gibson may have thought he was contributing to his bank account in the Kingdom of Heaven by making the film. This is common thinking among non-spiritual 'Christians'. The thinking goes, I will give lots of money for this project. I will help the clothes closet. I will do such and such. In other words, look at me. While such works may be 'good', if they are not done out of the impetus of the Holy Spirit, they cannot be considered God's will but rather a work of the flesh. All that we are to be and do is to glorify God and it is God who knows how He wants to be glorified. He is the Master, we are His servants. (See Articles XII, XIII, XIV of the Anglican Articles of Religion)

But what if the work I do brings someone to God and not to me in spite of my self-centered motivation? What if I am leading a Bible study because I am trying to impress the Church leadership and others by wanting them to think how smart I am? But in spite of this hypocrisy, one person in that Bible study discovers who Jesus is and surrenders to Him. Who gets the credit? God and He alone. Chances are, if in one area of my life I seek man's praise, idolatry, I will bear fruit of idolatry in the rest of my life. (Romans 1:28ff) Ergo, I will be judged by my behavior before Christ. Yet, one person was found by God in spite of my self-glorification. God foreknew my desire for honor using it to His purpose.

To judge God's providence or what it means to be a Christian based solely on Mel Gibson's well documented behavior is to have a very small view of God. To base the movie The Passion of the Christ on Gibson's character is limiting God's power. God makes use of us, we cannot make use of God. He is the master, we are the servants! As St. Paul states, "Who can resist the will of God?" (Romans 9)