This seems to be the year of the ‘Christian’ movie. Hollywood has found a new profitable market and is trying to cater to the tastes of believers but with limited success.
Released so far this year has been Son of God, Noah, God’s Not Dead, Heaven is for Real, The Song, and Left Behind. Those films are based on biblical characters and themes that movie producers hope will attract a ‘Christian’ audience. There are also a number of other movies being promoted for their Christian viewpoint or positive, family friendly message.
But can a movie be ‘Christian’? Did Jesus die for movies? No, he died for people. Yet we continue to speak of Christian movies, Christian books, Christian songs, Christian video games or anything else in the area of ‘Christian’ entertainment. What makes any of these things ‘Christian’?
No doubt many books, songs and movies have biblical themes or seek to deal with the challenges of living a God centered life. These we find helpful and even encouraging. But I have also encountered movies and books that come from a ‘non-Christian’ perspective that deal with similar themes and challenge my thinking about certain topics. How do I know what is ‘Christian’?
J.S. Bach used to write Soli Deo gloria on all his music. Is Bach’s music Christian music? The expression means Glory to God alone. It was used by musicians and writers to say that their work was produced for the sake of praising God. Their motivation was God’s glory and not self-glorification or pride. Christians are to be motivated and inspired by God’s glory and not their own.
The Apostle Paul says, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17) Each of us has a work to do, a calling or vocation. Whether as a movie maker, sales rep, lawyer, researcher, teacher, parent, nurse or taxi driver we are called to do it for the glory of God. God should be glorified by our work, by our devotion to serving him and not ourselves. We are the ones who are “Christian” and bring our perspective to bear on any work that presents itself before us. What we produce may not be Christian. The question is, “what is the work dedicated to, who is being glorified?”
If we ask that question about our own work or about the creative work of others we might be surprised at the answer. Not every movie that asserts itself as ‘Christian’ has been produced for the glory of God. Not every ‘non-Christian’ song has been written for the self-promotion of the writer. We don’t always do our daily jobs for the glory of God even though we call ourselves Christians.
I am not the judge of what is or isn’t a Christian work of art. I need to examine my own calling and ask myself, “As a believer in Jesus, is everything I do for the glory of God?”