The Culture and the Christian: On the Big Screen

Before I start today’s post on The Culture and the Christian, I would like to make two announcements.

1.) Please continue to pray for all of the devastation and pain, not only in Haiti and Chile, but for all people living around the world in poverty, fear, and so many more trials than many of us can even imagine.

2.) I am so grateful to my readers!  I have now been blogging for 6 months, and it’s incredibly exciting that people are still reading the words I write.  I hope you all have been as blessed, encouraged, and strengthened by reading this blog as I have been by writing it.  As always, if you have any feedback or questions, don’t hesitate to email me at sumparakaleo@gmail.com.  Thank you, thank you for reading!

And now, The Culture and the Christian series continues. =)

~

When a new show comes out, I first judge it by its preview.  If I can’t even handle a preview of a show, I’m not going to watch an entire episode.  If I make it to the episode, I judge by the half-hour or hour of content.  I remember I stopped watching one show just because I was incredibly annoyed with how self-centered the main character was.  But more often, I just don’t share the show’s sense of humor or appreciate the use of violence or profanity.

But if the show turns out to not be upsettingly profane or inappropriate, there’s still at least one thing that I have to keep an eye out for- the Christian character.

Several of the shows or movies that I started watching within the past year or so have a character who is, or claims to be, a Christian.  I’ve noticed that many of these characters are condescending, hopelessly confused, excessively strange, or generally unpleasant.

Why are we being portrayed this way?

This isn’t a call to write any major television or film companies and demand a more “proper” representation of Christians and Christianity.  It is a call to look at ourselves and consider why non-Christians view us in such a negative light.

I honestly can’t say I have the answer for this.  My guess would be that they’ve had some sort of interaction with Christianity that left a negative impression on them.

The screenwriter of a popular but controversial film about a Christian high school once explained that he attended a religious high school where everyone had to be at least six inches away from the opposite sex, they had record burnings, and the entertainment at the senior prom was a puppet show.  Others who worked on the film suggested that they felt that Christianity had to be more modernized and simplified, at least on the big screen, to appeal to a teenage audience.

It’s so sad that these sorts of opinions and experiences are the ones getting the most attention and making the most money, overshadowing the message that Christians should really be trying to get out.

I’m no giant movie producer or actor, but I believe that you and I can still do something about this on a smaller level- we can be the Christians that God has called us to be.  We can radiate Christ to the people around us.

“A new command I give you: Love one another,” Jesus said in John 13.  “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

As I was looking up this reference, I came across a troubling comment on a question/answer message board about this verse.  “I imagine you’re thinking of the verse in John 13,” the comment said.  “Problem is, I generally know someone is a Christian by his hypocrisy.”

No, no!  This is not how the world should recognize us.  It should be by our love, by our ever-increasing similarity to the loving, forgiving, holy God to whom we owe our lives.

There’s one fairly new show that I truly enjoy.  It has a Christian character, played by an actress who is a Christian in real life.  This character isn’t your stereotypical “TV Christian.”  She stands up for what she believes in.  She says no to certain temptations.  When people ask her how she endures certain things, she speaks clearly, confidently, and intelligently about her faith.  Other characters sometimes mock her, but that’s the sort of thing that does happen in real life.  The show, however, portrays her as a confident, beautiful, intelligent woman.  She definitely makes mistakes, but she apologizes and repents, and is generally a very positive portrayal of a Christian.

“I want to do things that either will have a message at the end of the day, a good moral message, or things that will encourage people or families in a positive direction,” the actress said in an interview.  Then, speaking about her character in the same interview, she said, “I think [she] is trying to represent what unconditional love is. I know that has a lot to do with her faith and God’s unconditional love for every one of us. I think [she]’s trying to live that out.”

You never know who’s going to become what.  That person frowned at with annoyance this morning while driving out of church might be the next James Cameron.  The girl you gossiped about could be offered an acting role as an ill-portrayed Christian in 15 years.  The guy who overheard your questionable weekend plans might walk away with a complete misunderstanding of what Christianity is and who Christians are.

While all of this is true, and we should definitely try to radiate Christ, I don’t want you to feel that if you mess up, you’ve completely ruined everything- that you were a little mean towards that person, and you’ve ruined their view of Christians forever.

Don’t forget that if God wants to bring someone to Him, nothing can stop Him.  If that girl or that guy is meant to be a Christian, they’ll become one regardless of what you do.  But how incredible would it be to allow God to use you, even if you might not know it?!

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. Let’s represent our Lord as we have been called to do.

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