How do you see your Bible reading? Does it appear flat or dull? If so, you’re not alone. According to Dallas Jenkins and some of his critics, they are hearing the same thing. Yet, people are crediting the Chosen series for reigniting their interest in reading the Scriptures.
I would love to share with you some helpful ideas for reading the Word of God and perhaps capitalizing what you are seeing in the movie series. It’s just a tool and you get to choose how to use it, or not.
When I read how people were viewing the reading of the Bible, as a black and white photo or somehow dull, I was surprised and amazed. For me, this view signals a problem and it needs to be dealt with. If we were talking about Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring trilogy. It’s a movie series based on the books written by J.R.R Tolkien then I would not have bothered.
However, the Word of God is a very different matter. I am glad that Dallas and crew are trying to take care in how they depict the life of Jesus and his early followers. It is also worth noticing that they have repeatedly said, “The Chosen series is not a substitution for the reading of the Bible!”
Because of the increased scrutiny, I’d like to see them post that statement at the beginning of each season. It seems some people are a little slow to get that point. In fact, I will go a step further and invite you to open your own Bible and see what Scriptures is saying about what is seen. While you are reading, it would be wise to ask the Holy Spirit.
God is not afraid of your questions. Since God is the one responsible for what is written, it makes sense to ask Jesus about what you’re seeing in the Chosen. Keep in mind, Jesus is very approachable and you can talk to God, for yourself. Do you see what I am doing? Oh, it is not clear? I will spell it out. 🙂
I have been reading the Bible, since I was 7-years old. It was a KJV Bible and it was both challenging and a delight. It was frustrating because of the archaic English and a delightful adventure. How can such a thing happen? I read each book of the Bible, as if it were a novel. At the same time, the Holy Spirit was helping me in overcoming the difficulties caused by the King James English.
Think about what I just wrote! For me, the Bible was far from boring and a ticket to a world that I knew nothing about. I was simply delighting myself in the Word of God and gave no thoughts to the opinions of others. For me, it was fun to read and I would sometime argue when something did not sound right.
Years later, I would declare Jesus to be my Lord, Savior and Friend! Yes, I can credit the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and prayer for this transformation. Of course, I would eventually run into the dreaded “How to Study the Bible Handbook”. I say dreaded because these books were boring and unhelpful. I got more from straight reading.
Is this why people are having trouble with the reading of Scripture? I realize that these methodology have their place; however, it is not the only way. How about praying before you read a passage of Scriptures? Ask Jesus to help you in the reading of God’s Word?
Recently, I read a chapter in Dr. Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”. The chapter dealt with the clarity of Scripture. In this chapter, he points to three particular items. The first one is the intentionality of the heart. Do you not know? Have you not read this particular passage?
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 NASB ’95
The Bible is not a normal collection of humanly written books. Otherwise, a small child is not going to fare well with a book written in archaic English. At the same time, I was looking for a fun read; not a deep study of God’s Word. As I delighted in reading God’s Word, it didn’t take long to discover God.
God knew the intention of my heart and met me, where I was at. The daily reading of Scriptures should never be seen as a religious duty. If so, it will be very challenging to cultivate a daily habit of reading God’s Word.
Here’s the second point mentioned in Wayne’s book. Before reading this chapter, I had felt very insecure and inadequate because I didn’t have any seminary training. I would often scramble to learn about the culture and history of ancient Israel and the surrounding area. The same thing goes for my lack of understanding the original languages.
According to Wayne, it seems that I’m perfctly fine. Clarity is both a process and it does require effort. I am not wrong to do some digging. Thanks to the Internet, it is a lot easier to dig than it was in the ’90s. Today, I am feeling a lot more relax and all the mor eager to dig. Again, it is not wrong to have fun doing it.
Here’s the last point made in Wayne’s book and you should already have guessed it. Yes, I am talking about the Holy Spirit. He is able to help you and I in our study of God’s Word and guide the belivers to the truth. Here’s what Jesus says:
13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.John 16:13 NASB ’95
Let’s get back to the Chosen series. No, I did not forget about it. To be honest, I was not totally impressed with it. After all, I’ve seen other attempt to create movies about the life of Jesus. I didn’t watch any of these movies with the expectation that they’d be totally faithful to the Word of God. Even the “Book of Matthew” ran into criticism and they were pretty close!
What about the anachronisms found in the movie? What about their depiction of Mary and Matthew? It did not take much to see what they were doing. As a man born with physical disabilities, I can appreciate what they were doing with Matthew. I suspect they chose Asperger for a twofold reason.
First, we are not given a whole lot of details on the real Matthew. At the same time, it was an easy way to include people with disabilities and not put the actor in danger. I appreciated this and had no problem. As for Mary Magdalene? Haven’t you read Luke 8:1-3?
8 Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.Luke 8:1-3 NASB ’95
That’s right, folks! In reality, she was not the only one! I suspect they included her, in the early stages for convenient storytelling. Incidentally, I did question what they were doing with Mary. I brought my question to Jesus and talked with him. No need for screaming and hollering.
The Holy Spirit brought to remembrance the key Scriptures about Mary and what I knew about the demon mentioned in the first episode. Plus, I could see clearly the reason for taking this approach. The idea is to be relatable to a 21st Century audience that likely do not read their Bible.
Therein lies the problem. A lot of Christians don’t read the Bible. Yes, they will likely read into the text of Scriptures what is seen in the movie. How about we learn from the Lord of the Ring fandom? Let’s simply encourage people to dive into the pages of Scripture. We need to gently point out that book is going to be different and far more enjoyable.
Did I forget to remind you of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you think God would have known about this movie and took care of it? Let’s pray that people would follow through and dive into the written Word of God and learn to put aside any false idea caused by such movies.