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God Is in the Drama

I’ve seen The Chosen: Season 4, episodes 1-3, in the theatre. Having waited a year to see what this season would hold, I can now say it was worth the wait, and it’s inspired some reflection.

The Chosen is a blessing to Christians. Dallas Jenkins and his team had pulled back the veil of Christian tradition to write these historical figures with humanity, something that we had forgotten to notice in the scriptures. Believers now have entertainment that explores the faith authentically.

The crazy thing is we know where this story goes. We know how it ends. Dallas Jenkins has gambled on one truth that never fails. It’s what makes the audience care, even though it’s no mystery how the story ends.

The power is in the journey, how we get to the end. Since Season 1, which opened with Jesus’ healing Mary of Magdala near suicide, Jenkins and his team has gone to great lengths to tell this familiar story from unfamiliar angles. We’ve gotten to know the disciples. We’ve gotten closer to Jesus. What’s more, the writing focuses on Jesus through the eyes of the disciples. They love him, even though they’ve misunderstood him. They’ve followed him, even though they don’t quite know his purpose.

But Jesus has been their rabbi. He’s been human, walking with them, laughing and crying and swimming with them. He’s taught them, challenged and corrected them. He’s even ministered to them by not performing miracles to make their lives easier. He’s been living in the flesh as only God can.

Starring in this multi-season show, Jonathan Roumie’s Jesus has blessed viewers in ways Jim Caviezel’s Jesus never could. Where Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ tugged at heart strings in the span of a two-and-a-half-hour movie, The Chosen’s Jesus has had seasons to show his humanity, his warmth.

Of course, not everyone has recognized the value of telling Jesus’ story this way. While I was critical of this Jesus show in writing terms before converting to The Chosen fandom, many remain critical not just of the writing but of the show’s very existence. Many Christians consider it immortal, even blasphemous, to adapt the original text for any medium, period. To them, it adds to the Bible and leads many astray. To them, Dallas Jenkins has given his audience the option in The Chosen to roll the dice on the show’s historical accuracy instead of reading the Bible. In a time of convenience and illiteracy, such concerns have merit.

Ironically, The Chosen has had the opposite effect. Instead of leading viewers away from scripture, this multi-season story has left viewers hungry for the biblical text. A wave of genuine curiosity has swept the nation as the show brings the New Testament to life like never before.

That’s precisely what good Christian entertainment should do. It should reach a wide audience and tell stories that connect our humanity with the divine. That’s the power of drama.

There are 5 more episodes of this current season and 3 seasons left to go in the series. Hopefully, the curiosity doesn’t end with The Chosen in The New Testament. There’s a whole other Testament ripe for adaptation.

May God be in the drama.

Published inTelevision