A little sweet and a little sour dialogue among students was spurred on by Dan Merchant’s documentary “Lord Save us From Your Followers,” which showed on campus Oct. 6.
“I might not agree with all of his viewpoints, but I think that the film brings up a lot of pertinent topics, and it gets people talking and thinking outside the box,” commented ASB president, David Collett.
“I thought it was a very intriguing documentary,” added junior Paul Roberson. “It was interesting to see that people seem to believe that the way Christians live today is nothing like what Christ would have intended his followers to live.”
The documentary “Lord Save us from Your Followers” presents the idea that Christians’ attempts to show God to people may actually turn them away. To make his film, Merchant traveled across the United States, clad in an outfit covered with Christian bumper stickers — solely for the purpose of creating dialogue. In his documentary, he also hosts a “culture wars” game show and holds a confession booth at a gay pride festival, where he apologizes for the hurt that the Christian church has caused.
Love was a hot topic in the documentary, and many students responded to its challenge to show Christ’s love to others.
“Christ was a lover of people and we are to be imitators of him,” said junior Stephanie Schwarze. “As many people said in the movie, ‘I like Christ; I don’t like his followers.’ This really hurts me to hear that. It is just proof that we as Christians need to stop judging and condemning and start portraying the Christ whom we supposedly follow.”
Junior Kris Cox agreed. “I think that right now many believers are acting a bit too harshly towards nonbelievers. I can see how those Christians are being passionate and trying to do a good thing, but their passion is often misinterpreted,” he said.
While accepting the challenge, various students were concerned that we not forget to instill truth as a form of love when the circumstance calls for it.
“He spoke so much about love, but he never really defined it,” said sophomore Jake Zufelt. “My definition of love includes doing what is right for the person, and if that means telling them that they are wrong and need to change, then I am going to do that – but I am going to do my best to do that in love.”
The film also stressed the art and importance of respectfully listening to other people and their views. This too resonated with students.
“As Christians, I think that so many times we forget what it means to be a listener and get too focused on our duty ‘to go out and save through preaching,’” said student Maria Robertson. “Don’t get me wrong, that is so important to do, but the constant reminder from my non-Christian friends is that us Christians have a hard time listening to their points of view.”
Schwarze was shocked by how many people in the film genuinely felt Christians have wronged them.
“I am used to the idea that Christians are seen as hypocrites, so that part didn’t surprise me. I also agree that many so-called Christians are hypocrites,” she said. “However, the part that surprised me was how willing people were to receive Dan’s apology on behalf of the church. I was surprised at how receptive people were to this, and how much it meant to them. I guess I didn’t realize how many people have been so badly hurt by the church.”
In “Lord Save us From Your Followers,” Merchant encouraged students to dialogue with those who hold conflicting opinions. That dialogue – on campus, anyway – began as soon as the film credits rolled.
“I appreciate Dan Merchant’s courage and insight. He set out to challenge the growing gap between factions in American culture, and he appears to have been quite successful at sparking dialogue,” noted senior Alexis Berdeaux.
After watching the film, Roberson said he believes it’s vital to learn how to love those with differing views but is cautious not to get caught up in pleasing people.
He concluded that, “I think we should worry less about what the world says we should be and focus more on who Christ says we should be.”