There have been no lack of faith-based movies that have come out in recent years – from family-encouraging movies like Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants all from Sherwood Pictures, to some more recent Hollywood productions such as Noah and God’s Not Dead.
I recently posted a teaser trailer for the upcoming Heaven is for Real film based on the book of the same title, expressing my interest in the movie. For those not aware, Heaven is for Real is the retelling of the story of Colton Burpo who at 4 years old had a near death experience where he claims (as a 4 year old) to have seen God, Jesus, angels, Heaven, and deceased family among many other phenomenon. His experience seems to have some level of confirmation in what appears to be knowledge that Colton could not have possibly known apart from some supernatural happening.
Immediately after posting it, multiple well-meaning friends, all of whom were professing Christ-followers, some of whom were brothers in ministry, urged caution or misgivings on my interest in the film. Without having read the book, I’m aware of the discrepancies in Colton’s story and what we can plainly see in Scripture.
I am not writing this post as a review on any of these movies. I’ll consider doing that in a future post, probably after I watch this one…
I instead want to address our attitude as Christ-followers toward faith-based movie. From Passion of the Christ to Son of God, it seems as if there are always people who claim to believe the Bible who have something negative to say about Hollywood’s recent fascination with God’s Word. I for one, am pleased that we’re at least having these discussions. Ultimately, no matter how well done, no movie is going to express as perfectly as each of us imagine Biblical truth to be. And I suspect that the actual reality of Scripture is simultaneously ordinary and yet supernatural per our expectations.
Let me give four humble suggestions on how Christ-followers should respond to any faith based movie – and arguably any movie in general:
- Appreciate good stories. It was said of Christ in Mark 4:34 that He never taught the people without telling a story. Jesus was a master story-teller. Most would agree that many of the parables of Jesus were fabricated stories that He used to make an illustration. A story doesn’t have to be true to be meaningful. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve referred to Star Wars or Everyone Loves Raymond to communicate a point in a sermon. And it’s amazing to see people understand the relationship between pure Jews and the Samaritans when you talk about “mud-bloods”…
- Relax. Truth is never intimidated by error. While we need to be busy sharing true stories, a skewed story can be addressed without getting indignant. “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” A defensive attitude toward anything indicates a sensed vulnerability. If I really believe the Bible is truth, I’ve got no reason to get defensive when someone questions the Bible or my faith. At least someone’s asking good questions!
- Share. I’ve lost count on how many times someone who doesn’t yet follow Christ has begun a conversation with me because of a movie that addressed a Biblical subject. The movie doesn’t have to be spot-on to be a catalyst for a divine appointment. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a story is worth a thousand pictures.
- Know God’s Word. Don’t take anyone’s expressions of faith, interpretations, or movie as the final authority on truth in your life. Look to see what God actually said in His Word. He’s quite adequate at speaking for Himself. Everything and everyone else should only propel you to looking deeper into His truth and applying it to your life. That’s why it’s important to be a part of a church family, a PTA, and to watch movies – because God speaks all around us through a variety of sources, even flawed sources like preachers and movies – but He never speaks more clearly than through His Word.