In recent weeks the world of entertainment has released a bevy of films built around religious and biblical themes. The effort is a noble one, but the big question is whether such films will reach a larger audience and act as a source of light to the culture at large.
Personally, I have my doubts. Even though some of these movies had an excellent box office, I suspect that the audience was by and large those who already have an active, healthy interest in religion. Put differently, the films were preaching to the choir. That’s not a bad thing, but it has only a limited ability to affect a positive change on the culture as a whole.
Jesus once told a parable about a man who went out to sow some seed. The seed (in this parable that seed represents the Word of God) falls on different types of soil. Because most of the seed falls on soil that was not adequately prepared, it failed to take root. Sowing seed in a society that is becoming increasingly secular is sowing it on rocky soil or worse. Without properly prepared soil films such as “God Is Not Dead” will have limited impact in its reach.
The world right now is in need of a C.S. Lewis who can tell stories with solid values that appeal to all without hitting them over the head with a big, black King James Bible. The key is to tell the story and let the story speak for itself. Jesus’ teachings were wrapped in storytelling and the lessons have lasted for 2,000 years and counting.
Overtly religious content has a market and a good one, but at the same time films with a veiled Christian worldview also need both our box office support and our endorsement. How about movies like “Blind Side” or “42”? How about the life lessons in “Remember the Titans”, or a movie about the true meaning of love as modeled beautifully in “Frozen”? Or movies that address moral dilemmas such as the 2013 Superman movie “Man of Steel”? Or that semi-dark though ultimately triumphant masterpiece “Les Miserables”? And then there is the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Many movies of this type have graced our screens the past few years, and they should be appreciated for what they are. No more than that, but definitely no less. These have the power to prepare the soil to receive the seed.