In the previous post we spent some time looking at how storytelling is the foundation of a movie and that our consumption of stories through movies should be filtered with wisdom. There are more obvious ways we can filter our movie selection to guard our hearts and minds from what Scripture and our Spirit-filled consciences would label as objectionable content, but outside of categories that are more clearly avoidable, there is also great wisdom in recognizing that the storyteller behind a film often has an agenda that does not take the best interests of the viewer to heart. With that in mind, two questions were posed that can help us analyze the content of the movies we watch: “What is the purpose of the story?” And “What does the storyteller want me to believe?”
But now that we are more aware of the dangers and how to be cautious with movies, is there anything actually good that can come from watching a movie? Can God be glorified through our experience in the theater? I believe so, and it starts with the profound reality that in Christ our minds are to be different than they were before. Paul issues us a command in Romans 12:2, saying “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” As followers of Jesus, God has put his moral law on our hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:10) and we are to leave both our former way of life and our former way of thinking (Ephesians 4:20-24). And although watching a movie can be a relaxing experience, we should always be diligent and alert with our minds (1 Peter 1:13, 5:8). So, equipped with wisdom from God’s Word, here are at least three practical ways to honor God by putting your renewed mind to work when watching a movie:
Through the gift of prayer watching a movie becomes time with God. By faith in who Jesus is and what he accomplished, we have direct relational access to God the Father and we are invited to talk with Him through prayer (Matthew 6:8-15; John 16:22-28). In fact, because the Spirit of God dwells in the believer, our lives should be filled with more time in communion with God through prayer than not (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This means that we are free to dialogue with the Creator of the universe even as we watch a movie, and dialogue with Him about the content of the movie. Seek to take advantage of this opportunity.
With more and more of God’s Word in our mind, celebrate the things in movies that are true to life. When we we see a soldier in Hacksaw Ridge risk his life to save fallen comrades, we see heroism and love for one’s neighbor (Luke 10:25-37). When we see the bravery and dedication of women in Hidden Figures push against both racism and sexism, we see people living out the reality of their God-given dignity and value (Genesis 1:27-28). Celebrate with God about what the movie you see got right.
When a movie seeks to make something look incredible, meditate on how much greater Jesus is than whatever the movie tries to make look great. I remember watching one of the recent Superman movies and for a moment as I saw him fly through buildings to battle his rival I felt genuinely impressed with what he was capable of and the power he displayed. Then I began to use that opportunity to think about how much greater Jesus is than Superman. Here are just a few examples of the thoughts a person can have: A. Superman flying through buildings gets the attention of people in that city, but when Jesus comes back all of creation will at once know he is back (Matthew 24:23-31). B. Superman cares a lot about one woman, Lois Lane, but Jesus cares more deeply for his people than anyone else could, as he not only made them but also saved them (John 1:1-3, 15:12-14). C. Superman may be impressive as a conceptual character, but Jesus is real, and one day everyone will know it (Philippians 2:9-11).
Whether it is one of these methods or another, strive to make the movies you watch more than just your entertainment. Let us put our minds to use and seek to glorify God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).