During Liberty University’s Convocation this week, actor Jim Caviezel delivered a riveting speech chock-full of truth and encouragement to students.
During the Convocation, Caviezel opened up about that intimate moment that God called him into acting at just 19 years old.
“I felt this love that I had never felt before, this peace I never felt before,” shared Caviezel. “I heard God say, ‘I’d like you [to] be an actor’ … I did not know where to go. I had a call to be an actor, but it was going to take Him to teach me and bring me to the right teachers, the right films to do.”
Though he’s now most famously known for his role as Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ,” Caviezel does not forget his roots as a struggling actor when nobody knew his name, except the One who called him into this industry.
After playing Private Witt in the 1998 drama “The Thin Red Line,” Caviezel finally got the big break of his career when Mel Gibson personally reached out to him about “The Passion.”
He could hardly believe his ears when his agent said Gibson wanted to meet with him—but even more surprising were the words that came out of the Hollywood legend’s mouth.
“[Mel told me], ‘If you take this part (of Jesus), you may not work in this town again,’” said Caviezel. “I felt fear come into me. That’s one thing about our faith. When that (fear) happens, that’s not Jesus.”
Though he was plagued with doubt and uncertainty about the role that could potentially crush his whole acting career, Caviezel kept his pledge to God from day one that he would act out of faith—not fear.
It wasn’t until after he accepted the part that the actor had a striking realization about his parallels to Jesus.
“My initials are J.C., and I’m 33 years old,” Caviezel said, to which Gibson replied, “You’re freaking me out,” and hung up the phone.
It was only the beginning of an arduous yet rewarding faith-filled journey that would lead to his opportunity to play Luke in the soon-to-be-released film Paul, Apostle of Christ, as well as Jesus (for the second time) in the upcoming sequel to The Passion.
But it was certainly no rose-paved path. Among other obstacles, Caviezel explained that he endured major injuries that nearly stopped production of what would become one of the biggest box-office hits of all time.
After sharing a window into his own personal story of pain and triumph, he encouraged Liberty students that each one of them had a vital role to play in the advancement of God’s kingdom. He stressed that greatness and purpose is not limited to the men and women of the Bible, but it’s attainable for us today. We are made to be the light and the hope to a broken world… though it won’t come without a cost.
“God is going to put you in different places in your life,” said Caviezel. “The world is going to look to you for hope, and you’re going to suffer for it.”
In fact, the actor said the main reason he decided to play Luke was that the state of the persecuted church in biblical times parallels what martyred Christians face globally today.
“You’re going to be given a power and an opportunity,” he added. “You’re here for a reason. Jesus said, ‘If they persecute you, know they persecuted me first.'”