Wineskins Archive

December 19, 2013

Movie Review: Lord, Save Us From Your Followers (Sept-Dec 2009)

Filed under: — @ 10:44 pm and

by Larry Bridgesmith
September – October, 2009

Inside OutBlue Like Jazz is Donald Miller’s (DM1) narrative challenge to traditional Christian thinking about religion, relationships and revival. Dan Merchant’s (DM2) documentary film Lord, Save Us From Your Followers illustrates the impact of simple church and authentic relationships in a post-Christian world. My wife Linda and I accepted the invitation to preview the movie at a premiere showing a few weeks ago. Lord, Save Us is Merchant’s (DM2) film verité, man in the street tribute to the Miller (DM1) take on post-modernism. It would seem that DM1 will be pleased.

Unfortunately, most others will be offended. Not because they should be offended mind you, but because Lord, Save Us is too painfully true and filled with too much verité. When Jesus returned in his years of ministry to his home town of Nazareth, they couldn’t stand it. His truth was too painful and their comfort too sacred. They took him to the cliff to throw him over. He evaporated out of their hands.

I pray that many believers will take the movie in and allow it to wash over them. Go home and talk about it with your millennial children and your baby boomer parents. Show it in your small groups and ask if this might not more accurately reflect what Jesus might encounter if he came to our broken world and was light and water and bread to “the least of these”. But beware, the religious establishment will find it dangerous.

Lord, Save Us From Your FollowersWalking through cities and towns across America, Merchant wore a silly suit plastered with bumper stickers and icons, slogans of faith and anti-faith. He simply asked people to choose their favorite slogan or icon while the camera rolled. Some like the fish, some liked the Darwin inside the fish. Some liked the fish eating the Darwin in a fish. Most couldn’t figure what Merchant wanted, was selling or stood for. But a significant amount of conversation was stimulated. The dialogue that has been captured is riveting, convicting and shameful. The shame is that as Christians it is frightening to hear what unbelievers, former believers and yet to be believers think of Christians. Not Jesus, but Christians. Jesus comes off wonderfully well in the movie. His followers don’t.

The jolt of hearing how I have thought of and judged non-Christians being repeated by them verbatim makes me cringe that my mind can be read so easily. I didn’t know I was that transparent. However, the movie spares us the ultimate agony of the hopelessness we probably deserve.

It closes with recognition that if we can choose to act like Jesus (instead of his exalted, exclusive protectors of the faith), people might find us as attractive as they find Jesus. Consider Merchant’s confessional booth established in San Francisco during gay pride week in which he confesses for the judgment gays and lesbians have received from Christ-followers. Feel the former Christians receive Christ’s love as they never had before and wonder, would they return to him if we treated them like Jesus treated prostitutes, pagans and taxmen?

Go see the movie when it opens on September 25, 2009 in Nashville and soon thereafter in a theater near you. But go with a readiness to accept its judgment on our sanctimonious divisiveness. Most critically, go with a welcomeness to more authentically become the aroma of Christ than ever before.

The unbelieving world will sit up and take notice, even if the religious guardians cannot.

See more information – including whether the motion picture Lord, Save Us From Your Followers is playing in your area – at its [Web site].
You might enjoy reading Dan Merchant’s book also titled Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, available in the [ZOE Life Store].
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Larry Bridgesmith

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