The Faith Comeback Of Mel Gibson
Carlos Rodriguez

Carlos Rodriguez

While promoting The Passion Of The Christ, Mel Gibson said, “I’m not a preacher and I’m not a pastor. But I really feel my career was leading me to make this. The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic. I hope the film has the power to evangelize.”

And evangelize it did.

I don’t know about you but I get save every time I watch it … and I force myself to watch it at least once a year. It reminds me that my Savior is more than a good idea. He’s legitimately a good God.

The Passion was funded entirely by Gibson (more than $45 million for production and marketing). But it brought in $612 million worldwide, making it the most successful independent film ever, the highest grossing religious film ever, and the highest grossing R-rated film ever at the time.

Yes, Mel Gibson was once one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

But after directing and producing The Passion, his self-inflicting calvary began.

Gibson’s life went from the sweetness of “What Woman Want” to the hells of “Mad Max.” First, he was arrested for drunk driving. Then he was recorded in the middle of an anti-Semitic rant that affirmed his critics’ suspicions that he was anti-Jewish. Afterwards, he divorced his wife of twenty-plus years, married a young actress, and when the new relationship crumbled, he was accused of verbally and physically abusing his bride.

Some people said, “Of course! The devil was attacking him after he shared the Gospel.” Others replied, “That was the real Mel Gibson that came out!”

Maybe both sides were right.

However, I have no doubts that the same grace you and I receive after all our mess-ups and screw-ups is available to Mel Colm-Cille Gerard Gibson, every single day.

Isn’t that the message the world needs to hear?

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17

Gibson’s only appearance in The Passion was his hand. Which is the one that puts the nail in Jesus’ hand – symbolic of the fact that he holds himself accountable first and foremost for Christ’s death.

Now, after almost a decade sober, the “Lethal Weapon” star is opening up about the wake-up call he had years back. Although Gibson apologized for what he called “despicable behavior” and sought counseling, it seemed impossible to move on from the incident in Hollywood.

As it seems to be with most of us when we crash and burn.

“It keeps coming up like a rerun, but I’ve dealt with it and I’ve dealt with it responsibly and I’ve worked on myself for anything I am culpable for,” he told The Hollywood Reporter two years ago.

“All the necessary mea culpas have been made copious times. So for this question to keep coming up, it’s kind of like … I’m sorry they feel that way, but I’ve done what I need to do.”

After 10 years, it seems Hollywood (and the Church) may be finally ready to forgive him.

He has spent the last few months engaging in conversation with Christian leaders from all over the US. From Greg Laurie at the Harvest Crusade in California, to Liberty University in Virginia and even lunch with our friend Shawn Bolz:

As I wrote in Hugh Jackman, Meet Jesus, “The Savior is on a mission to win the hearts of men. He will do whatever it takes to save the lost. He paid too high of a price for grace to be wrongly translated by us. Because, “God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” –  1 Timothy 2.

Yes, Jesus stands at the center of culture and Hollywood is paying attention.

Now, together with writer Randall Wallace, Mel is working on a sequel to The Passion of the Christ that will tell the story of the resurrection of Jesus. And we are so ready for it.

The “Hacksaw Ridge” director said his sobriety has brought him back to the light. And his latest film is getting rave reviews with a legitimate Oscar buzz.

I mean honestly, just the trailer could get the Oscar!

This new movie tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II medic who refused to use weapons but received the Medal of Honor after he saved dozens of his fellow soldiers. The movie was shown at the Venice International Film Festival and according to USA Today, the audience gave Gibson a 10-minute standing ovation at the end.

While at war, Doss refused to seek cover and endured in the fire-swept area with many stricken soldiers. He is the sole American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon. His artillery  of choice was prayer and he used it often while single-handedly evacuating the wounded from behind enemy lines, under constant enemy bombardment.

And yes, this is a true story.

Or as Greg Laurie said, “The most positive portrayal of a Christian in a mainstream film that I have seen since Chariots of Fire.”

Jim Denison asked Mel Gibson why he chose to make the film. He explained that Desmond Doss’ heroic faith so moved him that he felt compelled to tell his story to the world. He noted that more than 80 percent of Americans identify as Christians, yet Hollywood very seldom presents our faith in a positive light.

We don’t shy away from talking about the faults of our movements. But there is no doubt that the name of Jesus has been honored by men and women who have followed his steps and demonstrated courage in the most extreme of circumstances.

And that is worth sharing with the world.

Desmond Doss was not trying to be the star of a Hollywood movie one day. He was just following the ways of Jesus during his time and place.

Mel Gibson is trying to do the same. His comeback story should be celebrated, for it speaks about the hope of restoration and the Father’s delight in turning messes into messages.

There are a million reasons to discredit someone. And Mel gave us a few of them.

But thank God for the cross… and the price that was paid so that every morning we could have a comeback for the ages.

As the Hacksaw Ridge movie poster says (which is what God said to Joshua and to you and me), “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

That’s the truest story of all.

Carlos A. Rodriguez is a pastor at Catch the Fire and the founder of HappySonship. His latest book is “Designed for Inheritance, A Discovery of Sonship”. He travels extensively all around the world and you can find out more at www.HappySonship.com

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