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By Joan Veon
March 8, 2004

In the fall of 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was hobnobbing with Warren Buffet, George P. Schultz, and other insiders who helped him become the "people's governor," one of his future constituents, Mel Gibson, had an interview with EWTN News Director Ray Arroyo. When asked why he was producing a picture on the life of Jesus, Mel Gibson replied how could he not do a film about Jesus. After all, he said, "Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no man comes unto the Father but by Me (John 14:6)." The difference between these two popular macho Hollywood stars is dramatic: one seeks answers to worldly problems by election to political office; the other has found personal demons and seeks to tell the world about Jesus, the Lover of his Soul.

Recently in an interview with Diane Sawyer, Gibson stated that the reason for the film was that he had lots of demons-addictions of all kinds--which are now gone, thanks to faith in Jesus Christ. He explained that the sufferings of Christ are relevant to today.

God Bless Mel Gibson for standing up in a day when some persons popularize and laud demons. The eternal struggle between the world, the flesh and the devil, is seen in the writings of Watchman Nee. A Chinese minister of the Gospel, Rev. Nee wrote in his book by the same title about The Salvation of the Soul. He explains that according to I Thess. 5:23, humans have three parts: body, soul and spirit. The body is the physical body which houses the soul and the spirit. The spirit is where God resides if invited in by a person. The soul is the sinful nature of fallen man. Comprised of mind, intellect, emotions, and will, the soul is the "driver of the flesh." Taming it and bringing it into conformity with the principles of Christ is the battle we fight moment by moment and day by day.

Jesus says, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt: 16:24-25). And Rev. Nee writes, "To deny oneself denotes a setting aside of the self in seeking the mind of God so that in all things he may not follow his own mind or be self-centered."

In applying these concepts to life shows things of the flesh-the demons--that humans wrestle with-self-righteousness, anger, fear, jealousy, pride, insecurity, emotional scars, wounding, lack of faith, lack of joy, sexual impurity, lust, hate, gluttony, nastiness, criticism, dishonesty, and addictions to sex, drugs and drink. Believers must die to these and yield to the Christ of the Cross in order to root out such desires reflecting the sin nature and fallen man.

Watchman Nee writes that taking up the cross is "accept[ing] whatever God has decided for [us] and be[ing] willing to suffer according to the will of God. By denying self and taking up the cross we may truly follow the Lord." One's lot in life may include disability, illness, financial troubles, mental difficulties, marital troubles or troubled children. Thus, it is essential to identify with an all-wise God who allows only what humans can handle in order to provide an opportunity to kneel at the Cross in total surrender to His sovereign will.

John 3:6 says, "That which is born of the spirit is spirit and that which is born of the flesh is flesh." Rev. Nee points out that when one accepts Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, he is saving the spirit; and when one overcomes fleshly desires and baseness, he is saving the soul. Nee writes, "The spirit is saved through Christ bearing the cross for me; the soul is saved by my bearing a cross myself." Furthermore, he says that overcoming the desires of the flesh-the salvation of the soul--is to possess the kingdom.

In the movie, The Passion of the Christ, this tug of war between the soul and the spirit is clear in the Garden of Gethsemane. While His most trusted disciples sleep, Jesus prays. His "sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). When Jesus confronted his disciples about sleeping while he prayed, he said, "The spirit truly is ready but the flesh is weak "(Mark 38:14). Mel Gibson's snake crawling up to the praying Jesus depicts the power of God over Satan and fleshly desires when Jesus stamps on the snakes head.

Indeed, Pontius Pilate confronts the wishes of his government for peace and that of the Jews to crucify Jesus; one man dies so the "whole nation perished not" (John 11:50). When confronted with their demands, Pilate asks the immortal question, "What is truth?" The choice between Barabbas and the Christ depicts the struggle between the soul and the spirit as does the exchange between Pilate and Jesus. Pilate returns to Jesus to explain that he has the power to release him. Jesus answers, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin" (John 19:10). Pilate washes his hands in water in contradiction to Jesus, the Living Water. As Jesus earlier told the woman at the well, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).

The scenes depicting Jesus carrying the Cross vividly display the call also to take up a cross and follow Him. As Watchman Nee writes, "The spirit is saved because Christ lays down His life for me; the soul is saved because I deny myself and follow the Lord."

Surely one sees the stark differences between the "Terminator" and "Mad Mel," who points to the Passion of the Christ.

� 2004 Joan Veon - All Rights Reserved

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"Watchman Nee writes that taking up the cross is "accept[ing] whatever God has decided for [us] and be[ing] willing to suffer according to the will of God. By denying self and taking up the cross we may truly follow the Lord.""