“I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
Jesus. Always meddling. Why couldn’t he leave well enough alone? Imagine opening the door to such riffraff—tax collectors, thieves, prostitutes, violent extremists, mere fishermen. And now Gentiles? He wants us to share the same sheep pen with Gentiles?
Well, yes, he does.
I’ll admit to something. For a good part of my Christian walk, I’ve had an inferiority complex. I’m not Jewish, you see. And I’ve always wondered, deep in my soul, if that makes me just a little less worthy or acceptable in the eyes of a very Jewish Messiah. Jesus loves me, a Gentile?
It’s not a great stretch to envision myself as the Roman centurion we meet in Matthew chapter eight. I can picture myself saying as he did, “Lord, I’m not worthy that you should enter my house.” But I wouldn’t stop there. I’d probably continue along these lines: “Look, I’m not trying to make trouble here. I know you’re an observant Jew. I know your religious law doesn’t allow you to be in close contact with people like me. It’s okay. We can take care of business here outside the gate” (read: pen or fold). And then, I give in to the tears, overcome with grief and worry. “I just want my servant healed, Lord. He has served me well and faithfully these many years and, and I don’t know what to do. The doctors don’t have an answer, and I’ve heard you perform miracles, and I’m pleading with you on his behalf, and I—”
“Shush,” says a gentle voice, and fingers touch my quivering lips as I look into eyes that are at once commanding and gentle. “I have not found such faith in Israel,” says Jesus, adding as he looks around at the crowd, “Many will come from the east and the west and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:10-12).
The centuries roll on and—by and large—the Gentiles of Jesus’ time become the new believers, the community of God on Earth. A religion is formed called Christianity. And guess what? The hearts of many grow cold and harden as did those of the Pharisees of old, their compassion and empathy all too often smothered by the doctrines of men. History repeats itself. Upstarts naming the name of Christ reach out to pagans and long hairs, atheists and drug addicts (fill in the blank). And should one of these “misfits” hear the voice of the Shepherd and desire to join him? “Hell pop!” as the Jamaicans say. But of this we can be sure. “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
I have no greater aim in my films than to lovingly approach, and hopefully engage, the gentiles of my day, the people outside my faith tradition, with the good news of Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). I wish to introduce them by means of films of beauty and stories of hope to the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep he loves. Because there are many more souls he desires (and has destined) to come into the fold, where there will be one flock and one shepherd.
Two nights ago, on November 4th, we held a one-time screening of Let Me Have My Son at the Emagine Theater in Lakeville, Minnesota. The screening was held primarily for the benefit of cast and crew, but others were invited to experience the film. A brief clip from that Q&A time follows:
It is humbling to reflect on where (and how) this journey began nearly three years ago. If you served as an actor, a crewmember, or contributed in any way to the making of Let Me Have My Son (including financially or through your prayers), please stand and take a bow. We are going to take this film to the nations!