You Can’t Help Yourself

Filmmakers often tell us how to react, the emotion we should be feeling. These feelings naturally mirror what the character(s) are experiencing.

One of the ways filmmakers do this is by what happens in the very next shot. For instance, if someone is in a scary scene, the next shot might contain a high-pitch sound, resembling a scream. It could be a train whistle, brakes grinding, etc., but it’s there to (at least subconsciously) tell us how the character is feeling.

Similarly, if something funny happens in a scene, the filmmaker will start the next scene with someone smiling, or a group of people laughing.

These cues give us a sense of depth, continuity, and authenticity. It just feels real.

The same thing often happens in the Bible. In Acts 2, verse 46, the early believers were praising God with glad and generous hearts. A few verses later in chapter 3, a lame man was healed and he praised God, by “leaping up, he stood up and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping…”

His walking and leaping was the natural result of being saved, healed, and restored in relationship to God. We see how the early believers praised God and, in the case of the lame man, leapt with the very legs that moments before were useless. 

Think about Zacchaeus, the Danny Devito of scripture. A short man who climbed a tree because he could not see Jesus over the crowd. A tax-collector who had become wealthy off of his neighbors. 

When Jesus reached the spot where Zacchaeus was, he looked up at him and said, “… come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

This overt invitation to fellowship was met with scorn and judgment of the crowd who muttered, “He (Jesus) has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

Then Zacchaeus couldn’t help himself. This gracious invitation from Jesus was overwhelming and prompted a quick, powerful response from Zacchaeus: “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Giving away his possessions was a natural result of being saved.

The gracious presence and mercy of Jesus saved Zacchaeus, a rich man. Which is all the more astounding when just a couple of chapters earlier the rich young ruler walked away.

Scripture is filled with these cues:

  • King David bringing back the Ark of the Lord to Jerusalem and dancing with shouts of joy along with the horn section (known in scripture as ram’s horns.) 😉
  • Isaiah saying, “Here am I. Send me!” after the Lord touched him and removed his guilt and atoned for his sin.
  • The woman at the well who led her community to Jesus after Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah to her.

God shows us the natural, irresistible result of their faith. They lept, danced, jumped out of trees, ran to tell others. Their response was authentic; it was organic to who they now were.

They couldn’t help themselves. Can you?

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