Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Hillcrest Church Office
February 18, 2004

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Here is this week's WINNING WAYS . . . .

by Tom Goodman

I want you to go see an awful movie.  More than that, I want you to bring someone with you, and then invite your friend to Hillcrest where we can study the awful movie together.

I’m talking about Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, opening next Wednesday, February 25.

For over a year, we’ve been told how awful this yet-to-be-released film is.  Some Jewish groups have expressed concern that it will result in violence against Jews from viewers resentful that Jews killed Christ.  Some Christian groups have expressed concern that the exclusive focus on the gruesome details of Christ’s suffering fails to focus on Christ’s teaching, which they believe is really the central value of Christ.

I disagree with these objections to Gibson’s project, but I agree with them in one thing:  the movie’s awful.  That’s why I want you to go see it.

You see, the word awful doesn’t just mean “very bad.”  It originally meant “awe inspiring.”  Look it up.  I think you’ll find this movie awe full.

I’m not suggesting that this is the best film on Christ out there.  Thanks to missionary outreach to even the remotest tribes, Campus Crusade’s Jesus film has been seen by far more people than Gibson’s film will ever reach.  And the recent three-hour Gospel of John is a more comprehensive look at Jesus.

Gibson’s film, however, has something these other films haven’t enjoyed:  buzz.

People are talking about this film, and it gives us a chance to talk with them about our favorite subject:  Jesus.

Billy Graham was reportedly so touched during a screening that he wept.  After Pope John Paul II saw clips, he reportedly said, “It is as it was.”  In the Daytona 500, a Passion ad was emblazoned on the hood of Bobby Labonte's car.  “It's a chance to get the word out,” Labonte said about the ad on his car.  “Someone who is curious about Jesus and has never been saved sees the race and says, ‘Hmmm, I'd like to see what that's about.’  Maybe we can change their minds.”

All of this buzz has created a rare chance to get into unforced conversations about Jesus with those we know.  So, I want you to go see this awe full movie, and I want you to bring someone with you.  Mind the “R” rating, so don’t bring anyone under 13, and use your discretion when deciding to bring young teens.  But don’t be afraid of the wrenching scenes of suffering:  as one of our songs puts it, “There is power in the blood.”

After the movie, bring your friends to Hillcrest.  Ten days after the film opens, on March 7, we will begin a special series of evening meetings called “Experiencing the Passion of the Christ.”  We’ll be asking the choirs and instrumentalists to help us provide powerful worship experiences during the series.  I will bring messages with titles like. . .
      “Who Is Jesus?”
      “Who Killed Jesus?”
      “Why Did Jesus Have to Die?”
These are questions that the film will raise.

Be praying about this special opportunity at our doorstep!




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