Editing Jesus

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I recently had a sobering experience. As part of my role with JESUS Film Project I was tasked to select editing points for the creation of a version of JESUS for commercial television. JESUS has not been seen on commercial television in the US for more than 15 years, in fact, much longer than that. That’s a tragedy since no film has changed more lives or introduced more people to Christ than JESUS. More than 200 million people have professed faith in Christ because of JESUS.

My challenge last week was to choose deletions and edits in the film to get it down from just over two hours to just under 90 minutes. Think about that for a moment. If you have to choose something to leave out of the story about Jesus, what will you choose? My challenge was to choose things that were critical to tell the story and remove things that though important, didn’t necessarily damage the story of Jesus through their removal.

There were some hard choices to make.

Have you ever edited Jesus? You know, I’m sure you have. When we share the Gospel with those we love or with strangers, we pick and chose what to tell people. That’s because we are trying to relate things about the Lord that will be most relevant to what people are experiencing in the here and now. When you think about it, that’s a sobering thought. We are entrusted with the Gospel so that people might know and respond to it by having a chance to say yes to Jesus.
Pastors must often feel the same way. Of the many things they share from the pulpit on Sundays, they have to edit themselves for time even though they have so many vital truths to share.

When it comes to your testimony, how do you edit Jesus? Do you talk about the historical Jesus or talk about how Jesus changed your life? Do you share the stories that Jesus told or share statements from the New Testament about Jesus? Do you give broad generalizations about Jesus, or do you get into the details? Do you share the hard things or only what makes you comfortable?

In reality, we all edit Jesus. The challenge is not to edit out what our hearers need to hear the most—whether they like it or not—or whether we like it or not.

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