by Sadiri Joy Tira
When I was little, Protestant missionaries would set up a giant screen and reel projector in the plaza of our remote village in Mindanao, Philippines. Whenever the missionaries would set up, villagers would push to the front of the assembly, vying for the centre seats of the front row. The Mormon missionaries would bring their films too, competing with the Protestant missionaries for the eyes and ears of the Filipino villagers.
The power of film is difficult to replicate.
I imagine how Zacchaeus climbed the sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus; to hear Him speak. While that is ancient history, people can still hear the words of Jesus, and ‘see’ representations and narrations of Jesus via motion picture. Seekers can now be introduced to the most influential person via film wherever there is a screen and a movie player (e.g., iPad, computer, DVD player, reel projector, etc.). Let us continue what the missionaries started—bring Jesus to the many like Zacchaeus.
My friend, Dr. Samuel Chiang, recently posted on techno-evangelistic tools, suggesting The Jesus Film as a valuable resource. The Gospel of John film and online course is another FREE resource for your list available at www.thegospelofjohn.org.
Theologically, John portrays a loving God (John 3:16) who is not too far to be reached and known. The invisible Creator revealed Himself to humans and offers to save their hopeless condition. This God has taken human form so that we can know Him and experience His love and eternal life. John is implicit to say that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. He is the truth and life! In our confused pluralistic world, where religious options abound, John makes sure that no one misses the truth that leads to life.
He also portrays Christ not only as a Master to be served, but also a friend to those who decide to follow Him. Jesus will comfort them by His Spirit when they are discouraged. He will come alongside them when they are about to stumble. John answers the need for lasting and sincere relationship. We live in a world so alienated and marked by distrust that many people are seeking lasting and authentic relationship. John portrayed Jesus Christ as a true friend to those who love Him.
John addressed perennial theological issues that separate world religions and failed cults who deny the doctrine of the Trinity. Some of the major theological debates include the issue of “the Son of God.” Why not let the person seeking God simply read (or watch) the Gospel of John to be convinced about monotheism and Trinitarian doctrine? Let the Word of God through the motion picture settle these theological and doctrinal issues.
I recommend the Gospel of John to congregations seeking to be a light in their community. The Gospel of John is an incredibly powerful tool in the midst of a universalist, pluralistic, and broken society.
May you be granted many opportunities to tell the story of Jesus. Let Jesus speak and touch the lives of your friends through a movie this season and throughout the year.
Sadiri Joy Tira is senior associate for diasporas with Lausanne and diaspora missiology specialist with the Jaffray Centre for Global Initiatives at Ambrose University and Seminary (Calgary, AB, Canada).