Have you watched the TV series called The Chosen? It is the first ever multi season TV series on the life of Christ. Created and produced by Dallas Jenkins, season one was released in April of 2019. The series is completely crowd funded and the episodes are available for free through an app that has been created specifically for the purpose of viewing the series.
To date, two seasons have been completely released with a third season promised to be released later this year. Jenkins has said that he plans on creating seven seasons in total.
The Chosen’s app, which keeps track of how many times episodes have been viewed, has recorded 371,968,725 views in more than 175 countries as of March 9, 2022. That number is growing by the second. The show has received rave reviews from all sides and has even been translated into 50 different languages!
Love on Jesus’ Face
With all of this fanfare behind it, I couldn’t resist downloading the app and watching an episode. I was hooked. The writers and actors lay bare the poverty and desperation in the people during the time of Jesus. As you watch, you feel yourself connecting to your own spiritual poverty and desperation — your own need of Jesus.
Jonathan Roumie is magnificent in his role as Jesus. The love and compassion and authority in his words and on his face are mesmerizing. From scenes of Jesus revealing God’s great love to Nicodemus as they talked in the dark hours of night, to powerful scenes like the healing of the leper and the paralytic, I find myself swept away with wonder as I watch these age-old stories come to life. As I look longingly on these scenes and observe the great love on “Jesus’” face, I find myself in awe that Jesus loves me enough to look at me that way, with that much love on His face. I am often reduced to tears as I watch.
But there has been something that has frightened me about how much I have loved watching these episodes. I have wrestled with this for quite some time. So often, I have wanted to lose myself in the artistry and re-creation of these stories of Jesus as I watch. But I have always remained somewhat guarded.
Here’s why. Are the emotions I experience as I watch this series becoming a substitute for the transformation God wants in my life? I am touched, I am moved, I am brought to tears but then do I walk away the same person I was when I first sat down to watch?
And could the emotions I have felt make me think that the work of God has been done in my life when in reality I haven’t changed one bit? It’s certainly happened before!
In 1995, Jerry Jenkins, father of The Chosen creator Dallas Jenkins, co-authored the first of more than ten books in the Left Behind series that has been one of the highest selling book series ever, selling more than 60 million copies. It created a great deal of fear and anticipation that, any day, God’s chosen people will suddenly vaporize into the abyss leaving everyone else to pick up the pieces.
This series was wildly effective at exciting emotions and spreading error within Christianity. People became consumed with the excitement of the story instead of becoming excited to find out the facts that the Bible revealed.
If they had studied their Bible they would have found that the Left Behind books were based on a prophetic interpretation of Daniel and Revelation that was built on erroneous and misleading principles of prophetic interpretation.
But even though The Chosen is based on the gospel stories of Jesus’ teachings, and miracles is it driving me to the Word of God? And if so am I allowing the Word of God to transform my life, ripping out my innate selfishness and pride, replacing those with His love and grace?
It’s so easy to find substitutes for the hard work of dying to sin. It’s easy to come out of a worship service, a concert or watching the latest episode of “The Chosen” riding high on spiritual emotions but being the same old sin loving self!
Our generation is less likely to read any book period. Our generation is less likely to sit, struggle, strive to grasp the personal implications of what God is saying to us through scripture. So we are more susceptible than previous generations to the danger of letting an image, an emotion, a feeling lead us to think that somehow, without giving up sin, without being crucified with Christ we are now one with Him. And that’s a dangerous deception. A deception we must avoid at any cost.
The imagery and stories told in The Chosen are captivating — more and more people keep coming to “watch” the story being told. But if you do not know your Bibles, deceptions could be introduced at any point and you will never know it!
What’s Taking Center Stage?
When I watch Jonathan Roumie look into the eyes of a soul that is so desperately in need of Jesus, I feel myself being swept away with emotion — ready to ride whatever wave “Jesus” sends my way. Ready to listen and hang on every word.
The problem is that Jonathan Roumie is not Jesus and The Chosen is not an exact recounting of actual events. It is someone’s idea of how it all might have happened.
Does The Chosen drive you to read your Bible? Or do you allow your emotions of the story to entertain you, to take the place of the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? I can’t help but think of the Bible’s prediction of Satan disguising himself as an angel of light and deceiving many (see Matthew 24:23-27). “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan will pretend to be Someone (angel of light) that he is not. The best kind of lie is the lie that is mixed with truth.
The Chosen is certainly not Satan impersonating Christ. But it also is not the Word of God. Recognize that it reflects views and choices that its producers have made. Recognize that if it doesn’t get you digging deeper in the Word that you have missed its most valuable point. Recognize that the emotions it sends through your heart and soul must be acted on, must be the basis for real change in your life, must lead you to kneel at the feet of Jesus or it has simply been entertainment!
We live in a sensory driven culture. What we see, what we taste, what we feel drives us and often controls us. The Pharisees were no different. They kept asking Jesus for a sign, but He refused! He kept pointing them back to the Word of God. We are prone to demand the same. We are overwhelmed and thrilled by the things that we see and experience with our senses. God’s word has instructed us that “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Call to Action
If you choose to watch The Chosen, watch with caution. Make the Bible your authority, not someone else’s idea of what it says or how it should be interpreted. As the light in this world is snuffed out by darkness, let nothing but the Word of God light your way. Do not let yourself be fooled and swept away by every wind of doctrine. “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6,8).
All scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.