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Film Review: Stay out of My Business—Awakening of the Heart
By Ruochen, Japan
At first sight, I was attracted by the title of the movie, Stay out of My Business. Who says this word? To whom is the word said? What on earth has happened between them? Only from the title, it is certain that the film has wonderful contradictions and conflicts; one side controls the other and the other resists. The story unfolds itself like this …
An Arrest Scene Foreshadows Later Development in the Movie
At the beginning of the movie, the main characters appear successively on the stage in a tense arrest scene. A religious pastor assists the CCP police to arrest the gospel preachers; the leading character, Li Qingxin witnesses the arrest when passing by with a co-worker. In confusion, she starts to consider: The actions of the pastor go against the teachings of the Lord; how can he serving the Lord join with the atheistic government to arrest Christians?
The Wrestling Between Both Sides of Controlling and Anti-controlling
The thread of the movie is that Li Qingxin and the others suffer varieties of obstructions and disturbances from the religious pastor and the elder when seeking and investigating Eastern Lightning. The contradictions and conflicts are directly presented before audiences without beating about the bush through two scenes of arguments between Li Qingxin and the religious pastor and elder. The behaviors of pastor and elder acting out of character make them very surprised. Where are the pastor and elder who were humble and patient in the past? Why are they suddenly far different from before? What private resentment does Eastern Lightning harbor against them? Li Qingxin and the others are very confused at that, and then heated debates are sparked off between them and pastors and elders.
In the debates, the pastor and the elder many times try to persuade Li Qingxin and the others to stop investigating Eastern Lightning, using the excuses, “You understand a little of the Bible and are small of stature, so you are easy to be deceived.” But Li Qingxin feels that although she is small of stature, she believes in the true God, and how can she fear deception? The pastor and the elder persuade her repeatedly but don’t succeed, and then send her a spiritual elder Sister Jiang, who is respected by Li Qingxin, as a persuasive talker. The pastor and the elder go too far time and time again, which makes Li Qingxin more want to study Eastern Lightning and ascertain the true facts. She doesn’t understand: The whole religious world has long been in a heavy famine while the church of Eastern Lightning has the work of the Holy Spirit, but why do the pastor and the elder not allow them to seek and investigate it? Do they really care for them and fear that they will go wrong? Li Qingxin increasingly feels that the thing isn’t absolutely so simple as it outwardly looks. The intense and fierce plots and the ingenious design of suspense show her inner battle at that time of being oppressed and not liberated. People cannot help feeling worried about what would befall her: What other methods will the pastor and the elder use to prevent her? Can she successfully investigate Eastern Lightning finally?
With the plots developing, Pastor Qiao in the movie shows a strong desire of controlling; He unceasingly obstructs Li Qingxin and the others’ studying the true way, wanting to command and control them. Instead, Li Qingxin and the others continuously refute them with the truths and the Bible, desiring to shake off this kind of control. The more the pastor and the elder attempt to take strong command the more Li Qingxin resists. As the contradiction continually intensifies, the true purpose of the pastor and the elder doing all this is completely exposed and Li Qingin sees their true faces clearly. The movie is also brought to a climax.
The whole film is filled with contradictions and fierce debates. Many times of collisions of controlling and anti-controlling make the plots full of torque and affect people’s hearts. At the same time, an important message is conveyed: Who is it that can be responsible for the life of man? Man or God?
It is worth mentioning that the performance of Pastor Qiao in the film impresses people deeply. He is also one of the negative characters portrayed successfully in the religious movies I have watched.
In the scene where Pastor Qiao the first time breaks into Li Qingxin’s with some people to drive the preachers from Eastern Lightning away, the director well catches Pastor Qiao’s arrogant, insolent and hypocritical features of character by shifting the camera and taking close-ups. Pastor Qiao questions the preachers from Eastern Lightning in a lecturing tone, “What right do you have to lecture me?” His air of command thoroughly and vividly shows his inside arrogance and insolence.
In one scene shot on location, we see they went out for relieving boredom, although there is beautiful scenery on both sides of a small hill path, Pastor Qiao, with a haunted expression on his face, gives no thought at all to appreciate it. His fretful and contradictory mindset stands out against the striking contrast. In this scene, Pastor Qiao’s mental activities are depicted to a nicety: He is shocked and frightened at being forsaken by the Lord; he is irritated and worried because of the decrease in the number of believers; he is seized with fear when he hears “The last day for us pastors is coming.”, the cup falling on the ground with a loud bang. All these are precisely drawn. Moreover, his series of sayings of self-consolation and self-contradiction seem to have given good reasons for his actions and be reasoned and well-argued, but they are really ironic and ridiculous because his viewpoints are ridiculous and absurd, which more obviously manifests that his heart is stubborn and hard. It is a pity that such a pastor not only appears in the movie but in the real life, that is to say, there are too many pastors and elders with the same behaviors as that of Pastor Qiao.
In the movie, many times are mentioned classical lines of Pastor Qiao, “I am the Lord’s servant and housekeeper. The Lord entrusted the flock to me, so I have to be responsible for your life.” “You are my sheep.” Outwardly, it looks as if he is responsible for believers and rich in love and fervor, as if he is loyal to the Lord, but the secret dialogues of Pastor Qiao and the others expose their true intentions. In fact, they aren’t responsible for believers’ life but want to command believers to protect their status and livelihood. How are such behaviors of the pastor and the elder so similar to that of the wicked vinedressers recorded in the Bible? Besides, in the movie, the historical fact that the Pharisees opposed the Lord Jesus is talked about many times; the last fellowship more thoroughly reveals the substance of the Pharisees’ opposing God. Using the past to allude the present, the directors pass on these thought-provoking messages to us. I believe that, after watching the movie, we have to re-consider: How should we welcome the Lord Jesus to be after the Lord’s heart when He comes again?
Crying out of the Heart
The movie doesn’t have big-budget Hollywood-style filmmaking, nor does it have a star-studded cast, it only gives an account of the process of Christians seeking the true way. However, it is through the real and exquisite interior portrayal that all kinds of obstructions and plights the Christians encountered during the process of their studying the true way are lively presented before audiences. In the beginning they struggle and feel oppressed but in the end they cry out and gain release; the whole movie flows smoothly and gives people much food for thought. Li Qingxin and the others are the same believers in the Lord as the pastor and elder, but in investigating the true way, they reasonably treat Eastern Lightning according to God’s words instead of blindly following the pastor and elder to condemn it. By comparison, the behaviors of the pastor and the elder aren’t somewhat qualified.
The process of seeking the true way is like that of the Israelites journeying through the wilderness, in which there were many obstructions and obstacles and people had their own weaknesses. Therefore, if they had no true faith and didn’t have a heart that reveres God at all, it was very difficult to reach the good land of Canaan. Just as Li Qingxin, when bewildered, doesn’t define at will but seeks in God’s word; facing the obstructions from the religious pastor and the elder time after time, weak as she is, she doesn’t give up seeking God or praying to God. Owing to her reason and her seeking and yearning within, God works in secret and opens her spiritual eyes, allowing her to recognize God’s voice, and at the same time to see clearly that the purpose for which the pastor and the elder prevent her from accepting the true way time and again is not to be responsible for her life but for the sake of their own status and livelihood. They don’t seek the true way and the appearance of God but still stop believers from seeking the true way, making believers go along with them in their evil deeds and sink into the mire. Clear about these facts, she has discernment of the pastor and the elder from the heart, starts to disgust and resent them, really rejects them, and finally cries out from the depth of her heart, “Stay out of my business! Only God can be responsible for my life.” The crying out comes with much difficulty, which is absolutely a battle between life and death. This is proclaiming it to Satan and much more the symbol of God’s being glorified.
The greatest value of the movie is that it conveys an important message: Only God is the source of man’s life. Only God’s word can bring life to man and show man the way. Only God can be responsible for man’s life; none can save man, much less rule over and command man’s fate. Without the care, protection and personal leadership of God, man will all be taken captive by Satan, living under the influence of Satan and the control of Satan; without God’s guidance, man has no strength to break away from Satan’s forces of darkness and to get rid of the bondage of Satan; without God’s guidance, man will walk toward destruction and man’s outcome and destination will be in ruin. At the same time, it also gives those living in the constraints and bondages of the pastors and elders a warning: In believing in God, man should honor God as great. In choosing the true way, man needs to have the heart of seeking truth and have the courage to break through the constraints of the religious doctrines and theological theories. Man should take the initiative to look for and follow the footsteps of the Lord. Only in this way can man have the opportunity to gain God’s salvation.
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