VIDEO Christians Must Be Bold: ‘Many of Us Are Playing Judas’

jim caviezel

Actor Jim Caviezel recently appeared on the Edifi podcast, where he discussed his new movie “Infidel” with host Billy Hallowell. Caviezel said he hopes the film will bring about a greater awareness of Christian persecution and galvanize American Christians to follow Jesus without regard to their own comfort or what others think about them.

“I would say the goal would be to create a sense of urgency and relevance to Christians and non-Christians,” said Jim Caviezel when Billy Hallowell asked him for the main takeaway of the film. Many American have very comfortable lives and are oblivious to the persecution that Christians are experiencing elsewhere in the world. However, said Caviezel, “Barbaric Christian persecution is something that still goes on today…We should be aware and engaged in this issue.”

Jim Caviezel: Don’t Love Approval More Than Jesus

Jim Caviezel told Billy Hallowell that “Infidel,” which releases to theaters Sept. 18, 2020, portrays the “persecution of Christians in the Middle East.” After an American man is invited to speak on national television in Cairo, Egypt, he gets kidnapped and is held captive in Tehran. When the U.S. government does nothing to save him, his wife goes to Iran to save him.

The film, while not based on a specific true story, is nevertheless “thinly disguised truth” and portrays real injustices people have suffered in the Middle East. As examples, Caviezel mentioned the Christians who were martyred in Libya by ISIS, as well as the disappearance of FBI veteran and CIA contractor Robert Levinson, who reportedly died after 13 years of imprisonment in Iran. The actor also drew attention to the fact that many Muslims in the Middle East are suffering the loss of their freedoms.

Caviezel said there is a moment in the film when his character is on TV and the host presents a certain perspective of who Jesus is. Caviezel’s character has a choice to bow to the pressure to agree with the host or to say what he believes is true. “I love this character,” said the actor, “because he stands up for what he believes in, and that is something that is lacking today in this world’s cancel culture…people want to be liked so badly.”

While it is easy for American Christians and church leaders to let their desire for influence cause them to neglect following God, this is not the example we see in Scripture from Jesus or his disciples. First, Jesus did not ignore the suffering of others. “When I read the gospels,” said Caviezel, “I’ve never seen a Jesus that would sit there and say, ‘Well, you know, too bad for him.’ That is not the gospel I know.” Second, Caviezel pointed out that the Apostle Paul actually had more comfort, power, and influence before he encountered God on the road to Damascus than he did when following God after that experience.

Caviezel challenged his listeners not to be apathetic about injustice and not to deceive themselves or others about who they are truly following. “The way God sees us is who we really are,” he said, and God will bring the truth to light eventually. “Many of us are playing Judas,” said the actor, “Many of us are playing the Pharisees. And it will come when we have to face God, and it will come, even to non-believers…And we don’t get to see ourselves the way we want to see ourselves anymore.”

We need to be on guard against being complacent about atrocities and injustices in our own country as well, said Caviezel, specifically mentioning the “barbarism of abortion.” Being apathetic toward such wrongs is not how God wants us to live as his people. The actor hopes his latest film will encourage believers to stand up for what is right, no matter the consequences, no matter the tyranny of cancel culture. “You know a tyrant when you’re not allowed to speak your truth,” he said. “We as Christians have to be bold and speak the truth.”

 

By Jessica Mouser

Friendly Fin

Am I my brother’s keeper? Genesis 4:9

A marine biologist was swimming near the Cook Islands in the South Pacific when a 50,000-pound humpback whale suddenly appeared and tucked her under its fin. The woman thought her life was over. But after swimming slowly in circles, the whale let her go. It’s then that the biologist saw a tiger shark leaving the area. The woman believes the whale had been protecting her—keeping her from danger.

In a world of danger, we’re called to watch out for others. But you might ask yourself, Should I really be expected to be responsible for someone else? Or in Cain’s words: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). The rest of the Old Testament resounds with the thunderous response: Yes! Just as Adam was to care for the garden, so Cain was to care for Abel. Israel was to keep watch over the vulnerable and care for the needy. Yet they did the opposite—exploiting the people, oppressing the poor, and abdicating the calling to love their neighbors as themselves (Isaiah 3:14–15).

Yet, in the Cain and Abel story, God continued to watch over Cain, even after he was sent away (Genesis 4:15–16). God did for Cain what Cain should have done for Abel. It’s a beautiful foreshadowing of what God in Jesus would come to do for us. Jesus keeps us in His care, and He empowers us to go and do likewise for others.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

Who has God entrusted to your care? How have you embraced that responsibility? How have you tried to evade or avoid it?

Compassionate God, thank You for Your care for me. You keep me and watch over me. Help me to do the same for others.

The Righteousness of Believers

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made a statement His listeners probably found shocking—He said they wouldn’t enter the kingdom of heaven unless their righteousness “surpasse[d] that of the scribes and Pharisees” (Matt. 5:20). The Pharisees were considered the definition of righteous: They were the religious elite, who often elevated their own self-worth and standing in the community. Frankly, the righteousness they projected would have seemed tough to surpass.

Thankfully, Jesus wasn’t saying to beat them at their own game; He was pointing to a different standard altogether. Godliness isn’t attained by pursuing perfection, dressing a certain way, or by holding positions of influence in society. Rather, we become righteous by making oneness with God the focus and substance of our daily life, and boasting only in Him. (See 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.)

Think about it

  • As we pursue godliness, people may respond to us with persecution and hate or interest and conversion. How can you prepare to respond in either situation?
  • Jesus challenged the Pharisees because their motives were wrong. What motivates you to be righteous?

Writing of God

“And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.” (Exodus 32:16)

In this verse is the first occurrence in the Bible of the word “writing” and, appropriately enough, it is speaking of “the writing of God” rather than the writings of men. The reference, of course, is to the two tables of the law, the Ten Commandments, “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18) and rewritten on a second set of stone tables to replace the first, once they were shattered (Exodus 34:1).

All Scripture is divinely inspired, but the Ten Commandments were divinely inscribed! This testimony of their unique importance is a sobering condemnation of any who ignore them or distort their meaning (including the one referring to the six-day creation in Exodus 20:11).

But there is another writing of God—this one recorded in the New Testament, one of even greater personal significance to the Christian: “Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ…written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:3). No longer an external standard divinely engraved in stone by the finger of God, but an internal conviction inscribed in the heart by the Spirit of God! “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them” (Hebrews 10:16).

This remarkable writing of God’s law in our hearts and minds has been accomplished because Christ came not “to destroy, but to fulfill” the law (Matthew 5:17) and “hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). Now, with the law in our hearts, we have become epistles of God, “known and read of all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2), and it is vital that the writing read true and clear through our lives. HMM

Just Give Me Thyself

Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

—Psalm 86:3-4.

And here’s a little prayer that was made by Lady Julian:

O God, of Thy goodness give me Thyself, for Thou art enough for me, and I may ask nothing that is less and find any full honors to Thee. God give me Thyself!

We make out that a revival is everybody running around falling on everybody else’s neck and saying, “Forgive me for thinking a bad thought about you. Forgive me for that nickel that I forgot to pay back.” Or we say a revival consists of people getting very loud and noisy. Well, that might happen in a revival, but the only kind of revival that would be here when the worlds are on fire is the revival that begins by saying, “Oh God, give me Thyself! For nothing less than Thee will do.”

“Anything less than God,” Julian said, “ever me wanteth.” I like that little expression. Translated into modern English it means, “It won’t be enough.”   AOG032

Oh, God, “of Thy goodness give me Thyself.” Amen.

 

His Never-failing Presence

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

—Acts 2:2

 

Pentecost did not come and go; Pentecost came and stayed. Chronologically the day may be found on the historic calendar; dynamically it remains with us still in all its fullness of power….

Our insensibility to the presence of the Spirit is one of the greatest losses our unbelief and preoccupation have cost us. We have made Him a tenet in our creed, we have enclosed Him in a religious word, but we have known Him very little in personal experience.

Satan has hindered us all he could by raising conflicting opinions about the Spirit, by making Him a topic of hot and uncharitable debate between Christians. In the meanwhile, our hearts crave Him, and we hardly know what the craving means.

It would help us if we could remember that the Spirit is Himself God, the very true Nature of the Godhead subsisting in a form that can impart Himself to our consciousness….It is His light upon the face of Christ which enables us to know Him. TET095-096

Augustine says it is amazing that anyone should live apart from [God,] apart from whom he cannot live at all. BME058

 

The Conquest of Worry

Matthew 6:34

It would seem that in these words—”Do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34)—there is an exception to the rule; for is it not most improvident not to think about the future and prepare for it? This principle applied literally would mean the end of provident societies and insurance corporations. Bankers and brokers would go out of business. In this hard and brittle world one must look to the future, for the man who retires without having prepared for it will find that God is on the side of the provident.

We know that our Lord did not ignore the principle of preparing for the future, for His whole ministry was related to it. He urged salvation in the present to determine where we will spend eternity. On the cross He thought of His mother’s future, and committed her to the care of John.

Deep in our Lord’s injunction is advice against undue anxiety and worry. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount was advocating a living trust in the present that would make the future secure.

Worry is imagination run wild! We allow our thoughts to anticipate the worst, to build in our minds fearful images and situations which rarely come to reality. We cross our bridges before we come to them. We must be prepared to accept the worst if it comes, but must calmly devote all the thought and energy possible to improving the worst as it is now. If we reconcile ourselves to the worst we often find the worst never comes. Tomorrow will depend upon what we are today.

Victories can be won or lost in the mind. We rush to the chemist for tranquilizers when all we need is a right mental adjustment to life. Our Lord refused the sponge saturated with an appeaser on that day, showing that He would not die drugged. There is no external answer to the internal state of mind with which we face our troubles and tragedies.

When tire manufacturers found solid tires were cut to pieces by flinty roads, they invented pneumatic tires which absorbed the shocks of the roads. We need to learn that spiritual art which helps us to bend to resistant forces. The prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr is worth saying every day:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference.

George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man