In my usual Facebook perusal (I am guilty of a few a week) – I came across a recurring link that stopped me in my tracks. This was no Buzzfeed test or series of global warming images. It was a video that cut through the trivial rants of unedited people and delivered a message that I not only believe is vital to our world, but one that has personally changed my life. Check it out:
Pretty awesome, right? After some research, there is not much more about the film. Set to be open for only one day in cinemas in the US, it isn’t even clear whether it will ever reach Africa. So why write about it? The content of the trailer alone is worth expanding upon.
The structure of the film is based on a contemporary narrative of the Prodigal son – a story in the Bible about a younger son who demanded his inheritance while his father was still alive and then spent it carelessly in the sordid pleasures of the fallen world. He ended up broke and working for scraps on a farm. He had hit rock bottom and decided that he would try going back to work as a servant in his father’s household. But when he returned, his father extravagantly welcomed him home and celebrated his son’s return.
It was a parable that Jesus told about the Kingdom of heaven. How even though we have intentionally messed up our lives – God still desperately wants to welcome you into His home and forgive you for what you have done.
You would think that choosing to go home would have been a natural decision for the wayward son, but something held him back – shame.
The narrative of shame builds walls that hold us back from God. Despite many hellfire preachers trying to shame people into heaven, I haven’t seen it do anything for our generation. The only thing that evil can muster in preventing us from finding home, forgiveness and reconciliation is the illusion of hopelessness. In this trailer, there is a marvelous quote:
“What if shame was our bridge… not a barrier?”
The meaning of these words may seem elusive at first, but that’s where the second element of the film is key – it consists of interviews with high-profile writers and artists who have struggled with brokenness, addiction and identity. The idea is that we are not alone and can all identify with each other in our weaknesses. Shame is one of the most relatable subjects in humanity. Hearing stories from people who have reached the other side of that shame is not only inspiring, but potentially life-changing.
With production quality that feels genuine and subject matter that engages beyond an interest-level, this could be one of the best Christian-content films around today. Among a few recognizable names involved in the project are Pastors Chad and Julia Veach – who pastor a local church in LA and have a global impact relevant to the youth culture. If they are anything to go by, this film could be a cinematic first in reaching people where they need to be found most – isolated and exhausted in the consequences of their decisions.
My favorite quote is from William Paul Young (author of ‘The Shack’):
“Nothin’ so dead that God can’t grow something living in it.”
I have had a treacherous history with shame. It almost stole everything from me. But finding God and shaking the lie of shame off has proved this statement so true – it resonates to the core. God has a hope that will grow from ANY circumstance. If you find yourself caught up in shame – far from God and people and love, I want to encourage you to stop allowing it to push you away from God. The only way you ever end the cycle of shame in your life – whether brought on by abuse, addiction, lust or other bad choices – is by growing in relationship with a God that is undaunted by our mess and completely capable in changing the narrative of lives. It’s the only way I am alive today.
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