Last week was our 14th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we went to the movies. We finally had the chance to use a gift certificate that we had been sitting on for about a year. This was our shot, and we didn’t want to waste this opportunity on a bad movie.
We were open to any kind of movie. We just didn’t want to see a film that made Christians look stupid. And it’s getting harder to find. Most movies depict Christians in a bad light, as if we are holding back social and scientific progress. The moral of most stories is clear: Christians need to drop their outdated views and get with the times.
After narrowing down our options, we made our choice and hoped for the best. But within the first five minutes of the movie, there was a Christian couple who was portrayed as closed-minded, self-righteous, and out of touch. Argh!
I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but it feels like Hollywood is shifting the culture against Christianity one movie at a time. Most movies depict Christian values of truth and morality as bad and celebrate a distorted view of love as good. And the people I know are buying in.
When I see the dramatic shift in culture, I’m tempted to withdraw from our world into my own little fortress, slinging stones at Hollywood from afar. I want to wallow in self-pity or lash out in self-righteous pride.
But then, when I regain some perspective, I remember how often the Bible says, “Don’t be surprised if the world hates you.” So instead of withdrawing or lashing out at society, here’s what I’m trying to do . . .
1. Remember, Jesus is running the show.
In the accounts of Jesus’ birth, the biblical authors mention the powerful rulers of the day like King Herod, Caiaphas, and Pontius Pilate. Those men seemed to be running the show. And they used their power to fight against God’s kingdom. But God used their decisions to further his plans. Despite how it might seem, King Jesus has always been running the show. And he will use everything, even Hollywood, to further his kingdom.
2. Live in the world but not like the world.
I don’t think I’ll go to movies for a bit. Although I love a good story, I just need a break from the barrage of attacks against my faith. But that doesn’t mean I get to check out of the culture altogether. I must guard against a “Christian” versus “culture” mentality. Jesus made this world. Jesus loves this world. Jesus died for sinners like me in this world. And Jesus is calling all of us to love all our neighbors as he first loved us.
Some of the movies that come out of Hollywood are telling a powerful message against Christianity. But we don’t need to feel defeated. God has called us to tell an even more powerful story through our day-to-day lives. Peter wrote, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12). God loves all people. And he wants to show the power of his love through you.
Pastor Ben Sadler has served as a full-time pastor since 2010. He began his ministry serving a Spanish-speaking congregation in Florida. Since March 2014, he has served at Goodview Trinity Church in Minnesota. He is married to Emily, and they have three children. Ben loves to spend time with his family, ride his road bike, read, write, and preach.
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