Movie-going for Christians has always been a bit controversial. Should we avoid them altogether or take them in moderation? Should we carefully choose or sample all kinds? Do they truly add to us or take away? Are they a complete waste of time in a world where people are dying outside Christ?
And religious movies! Biblical films, to be exact. How proper is it to attempt to portray Deity? Many holy men and women of God resolutely resist viewing anything so blasphemous as a human representing Jesus Christ. Why, they say, how does this differ from Popery? Is it not forbidden by Moses himself?
I understand the conflict in all of the above, and have wrestled with issues concerning the media all my life. Without entering into the fray at present, I can say this much about some movies, whether or not I should have allowed myself to see them:
· It was during a viewing of the Billy Graham film Shadow of the Boomerang , listening to Billy’s preaching, when I first truly experienced the forgiveness of Christ, becoming fully aware of my wretched condition. Now it was the preached word that saved me. Going to a Billy Graham Crusade would have had the same effect. But I can’t deny that it was the movie that got my attention.
· Among other things, Graham’s The Hiding the mystical teachings of jesus Place motivated me to seek out and help those suffering in persecuted countries. Perhaps the other things would have been enough, but it was the movie that built the fire.
· My wife and I both remember childhood viewings of Ben Hur and that last scene where the blood of Jesus is seen mingling with the rain and symbolically touching the lives of mankind. We were not theologically seasoned in those days, but a truth of Scripture found its way into our hearts through General Wallace’s tale of the Christ. Yes, we could have read the book. But we didn’t. We saw a movie.
· Even The Sound of Music had a way of refreshing me and making me want to serve the Lord more, though in those days I had no educated idea of the dangers of Romanism.
· The Jesus Movie is used around the world and reportedly is instrumental in bringing untold numbers of people to Christ. I found the movie somewhat refreshing if not perfectly accurate in all places.
I hope I make the point here, that in many lives, though perhaps God would have preferred simple presentations of the Gospel through preaching or personal testimony, nevertheless, “Christ is preached.” And we must rejoice over every soul that comes to God.
The Mel Gibson case before us is somewhat in the same genre. Many will come to know Christ, or at least of Him. Questions will be raised. The true ministry can be performed after the movie, and servants of Christ should be at the ready for this unique opportunity. It still could be argued that our God would prefer the method He taught us, but one cannot disagree with persons using what is in their hand to glorify Christ. May Christ be uplifted in all things. And may all of us find our way to lift up Jesus in our world.