November 9, 2009

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

I’m still working my way through the Ken Burns’ park series that my husband Joe graciously recorded for me while I was in Nebraska. And I continue to peruse articles I’ve cut out of the papers about the series (can you tell I am way behind on everything??)

One of the pieces I’ve read is from The New York Times, an interview with Mr. Burns and his collaborator, Dayton Duncan. In this article, the author mentions that Mr. Duncan “frequently chokes up” when discussing the film project. “It tells the multiple stories, Mr. Duncan said, of ‘an individual, a small group of people, an organization who fell in love with a place so deeply that they dedicated themselves to finally convince the government over a long struggle that it should be set aside for everyone…In each place, there’s great conflict and drama and unbelievable characters and great scenery.’”

When asked about all the travels he makes to promote his work, Ken Burns says, “There’s an evangelical dimension to it…I like shooting; I like getting up at 3 a.m. and getting out with the camera and getting out and filming…And then I love the proselytizing.” In reality, he says, he’s “’made the same film over and over again,’ one with a single theme at its core: ‘”Who are we?”’”

The enthusiasm of these two men for their work and this specific project—which took ten years—is obvious. The result, the Times’ writer says, is “an unabashed love letter.”

I found myself thinking that the Bible is also a “love letter,” albeit a much more important and life-changing one than any film, and it has all the same exciting elements Mr. Duncan raved about:

people who were so committed to following God that they paid for it with their lives—for examples, see the book of Acts, or Hebrews 11, which I mentioned in my last post

great conflict—Romans 7:7-25 outlines what is perhaps the greatest conflict of all, the one within ourselves

drama—Paul’s radical conversion from persecutor to devoted follower, for one (Acts 9), or the incredible story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50)

unbelievable characters—Samson, a cautionary study in contrasts (Judges 13-16); Rahab, a prostitute who was included in the Messianic line (Exodus 2:1-21, 6:22-23; Matthew 1:5); and Ananias and Sapphira, a couple who dropped dead when caught in a lie (Acts 5:1-10); to name just a few

great scenery—you can’t beat the description of heaven in Revelation 21:10-27!

If the apostle Paul confessed he wasn’t a terrific speaker or exceptionally wise, and trembled from fear when he spoke, what excuse do we have to keep silent about the greatest story ever written?

We don’t need to go to seminary or evangelism seminars to tell the story, although those things have their place. All we have to do is, like Ken Burns, keep relaying the same message over and over again, one with a single theme at its core: Who are we?

The simple but profound answer is found in Romans 3:23, 6:23; and Ephesians 2:8 & 9: we are sinners saved from God’s wrath by His amazing grace.

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