O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:17
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:3 (All English Standard Version).
If I were an extraterrestrial visiting America at this moment, I would be rather perplexed about the human sub-species called homo christianus. For a group of people who supposedly put their trust in the Divine, and their hope in the Gospel, it seems as if these people are unsure of what they truly believe. Or do they know what they believe in?
As we journey through this Lenten Season, it appears that American Christianity having a wet dream. First, we see the movie Son of God playing in cinemas about the life of Jesus. Now a new movie, God Is Not Dead is coming out which deals with a Christian college freshman facing off with a philosophy professor (always a philosophy professor) about the existence of God. Later, Noah with Russell Crowe will hit the big screens; as will other movies this year. I know many Fundagelical Christians are having a field day, believing these films will promote Christianity to viewers-both saved and unsaved.
However, I have to beg the title question: are these films contending for the faith, or creating noise? Are these films glorifying God and contending for the faith in love, or, are they just cinematic means to shove the Gospel in people’s faces? I look at Son of God, produced by New Ager Roma Downey and her hubby, Mark Burnett. Again, it shows the Euro Jesus-promoting a veiled racism that many are unwittingly gobbling up. From what I can see, it shows a toned-down Jesus that is light years from the “justice and mercy” Jesus I read in the Gospels that I follow. Is this cinematic “Jesus” the kind I want to think on for Lent?
With God Is Not Dead, why does the antagonist has to be a philosophy professor? If the producers really want to give the flick a bang, why not a theology professor? Shit, there are many Christian theologians out there that have pretty much consigned the Divine to the funeral pyre of history. And why do we have to “prove” that God’s not dead? Don’t we believe in our hearts he’s already alive? And as the movie shows (SPOILER ALERT!), how many philosophy professors are going to make their students write “God Is Dead” or get flunked? Then again I went to a Catholic university and never had this problem in philosophy class!
If I may call in the post’s Scripture texts, I see that we’re just creating noise. Do we truly put our trust in God so we can contend for the faith by living out our faith on a daily basis? Or do we leave it to “christian others” to peddle the “gospel” via the silver screen? Are we witnessing for the Lord by our living and loving on a personal level; or are we shoving it down the throats of people via impersonal media?
But it’s not just the external noise that bothers me, it’s the internal noise such consumption of the above movies make. Lent is a time to reflect how we relate to the Divine, a time to refocus on the Jesus of the Gospels and his words. Lent is a time for us to do some internal “housekeeping” as we examine our walk with the Lord in relationship with our lives. Movies like the above cause us to cede our God-given power of internal discernment by telling us how to act as followers of Jesus. Instead of study, prayer, and “taking on” (from an earlier post); we fixate our spirits on man’s imagery and on meaningless speculation that will make us spiritually lazy. Instead of growing in grace, we’ll become shallow in spirit…
And instead of following the Man from Galilee, we’ll follow man. Instead of listening to our pastors, we’ll be captivated by producers. And we’ll trade the church for the cinema…
And we wonder why Christianity’s dying in the West.
I’m not telling you what or what not to watch. Nor am I demonizing the actors and producers of such films. However, as we strive to live reflectively this Lenten Season, before we consider going to such films, we need to ask ourselves will such movies help us to contend for the faith in our lives…
Or cause us to create noise?