Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Passion of Christ-My thoughts-Toya
I sat and flinched during the movie, strategically covering my eyes as to only be able to see the subtitles at the bottom of the screen. Even so, my body tensed each time I heard the incessant whipping and flogging. I uncovered my face at various points of the movie to make myself come face to face with the reality of what happened on that torturous but victorious day. And as the crowd yelled “Crucify him” and sent an innocent man to a death only fit for thieves, murderers and sinners, I sat there slumped over in the chair next to me facing the grim reality of who I would be if Jesus had not suffered so.

I wish that I could say that I would have been like the woman in the movie who ran to Jesus and wiped his bloody, scar-ridden face and offered him something to drink. I would even settle for being like Peter which really would not be settling at all because even though he denied Christ, he repented and went on to change the world by spreading the good news. I could kid myself and say that I know that without a doubt that I would have walked with Christ to the end but I know better. It is quite likely that I would have been one of those people in the crowd yelling, “Crucify him!” This is not a revelation that most people would feel comfortable facing or admitting. Believe me, I am not proud of it.

During this movie, I came face to face to who I am without Christ: just a religious, prideful, overly-critical human being going through the motions of religion without truly having a relationship with God. The people that yelled “Crucify” and sent Jesus to his death were not those that did not believe in God. In fact, these were religious people that upheld religious traditions and values more consistently than the average Christian, myself included: these people fasted, worshipped, and tithed regularly. They upheld the Sabbath. They studied and knew the Word of God backwards and forwards and went about quoting it and discussing it in the temples regularly. Some were even well educated in the teachings of the bible so they surely knew of the coming Messiah that the early scriptures spoke of. Even so, they maliciously called for the execution of a righteous man and why? Because this man exposed the very evils of their hearts. “How dare he say that he is the Messiah when he heals on the Sabbath?” some of them may have thought. “How dare he tell us to love our enemies and pray for them? How dare he sit with sinners and fraternize with tax collectors if he is the son of God? God doesn’t want anything to do with them and neither do we.” I can’t tell you how many times this attitude has been my very own: unforgiving, judgmental and irreverent.

And I didn’t cry during the movie. My mind was racing too much between asking God questions and merely trying to process everything. I was concerned at first that I didn’t cry but I realize now that that is irrelevant. What doesn’t matter is my reaction during the movie. What does matter is my reaction AFTER the movie.

Three days after seeing “The Passion of Christ” I decided to wear my necklace with a cross on it for the first time in months. This is an act I normally would give no thought towards. In our society, we are so numb to the sight of crosses. We see them so regularly; on church properties, diamond encrusted on the necks of famous athletes and entertainers, even throughout the home of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne on “The Osbournes”. It’s about as American as apple pie and treated just as commonly. But this time as I pulled it out of my jewelry box, I looked at it a while and wore it not at all as a statement to those around me but a reminder only to myself. After seeing The Passion of Christ, I now know that because of the cross He chose to bear, my cross to bear, in comparison, is really about as small as the one that sits on my chest. I mean is it REALLY that hard to love that guy who cut me off the other day? Did I really have to open my mouth and clown those girls wearing "My Body Is Your Wonderland" tshirts at the John Mayer concert they way that I did (and LOUDLY at that)? It's just too easy for me. Being sinful is just too easy and it's a shame. The truth is, if this movie left me just feeling guilty, it would have only accomplished 1/4 of what it was supposed to do. This movie left me feeling victorious. I am desperately trying to love more and clown less but I can't conquer anything by myself. Because Christ chose me as His passion, I don't have to.

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