In a soon to be released book, Revise Us Again, I wrote the following line:
Spiritual maturity is not the ability to see the extraordinary, but the ability to see the ordinary through God’s eyes.
In the same spirit, A.W. Tozer said:
You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.
And Merton wrote:
We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. God manifests Himself everywhere, in everything – in people and in things and in nature and in events. The only thing is we don’t see it.
In Jesus Manifesto, Len Sweet and I point out that Jesus Christ is the essence and embodiment of true beauty, true virtue, and true goodness. Consequently, anything that we befuddled humans create which possess the elements of the beautiful, the virtuous, and the good is but a reflection of Christ.
This holds true for art. If there is any beauty, virtue, or goodness in art . . . whether in music, painting, film, etc. . . . that piece of art is echoing Jesus in some way, even though it may be a quiet echo and a pale reflection. This is true even if the artist doesn’t know the Savior.
The reason is because there is no goodness, virtue, or beauty outside of Christ. Jesus is Goodness. He is Virtue. He is Beauty.
The subject before the house today: Seeing Christ in Films.
What follows are seven movies that have touched me in a spiritual way (though this probably wasn’t the intent of the creators). The reason is that I strikingly saw my Lord in them. There are certainly more, but this is just an off-the-cuff sampling. The films appear in no particular order. And I’ve intentionally left out the overtly “Christian” and Bible-based films as well as the brilliant and wonderful C.S. Lewis’ series. The films listed here are a bit more subtle.
With the exception of two of them, the rest reduced me to a puddle of tears.
Disclaimer: Just because a movie is listed below doesn’t mean or imply that I agree with or endorse everything in that particular film. Humans are flawed so we can’t help but create flawed art . . . some less so than others. Thus when it comes to films . . . as in any art form . . . I follow Paul’s maxim to hold fast to that which is good and reject that which is evil. In this vein, I’m thankful for Fast Forward. And God is a master at writing straight with crooked lines.
1. Seven Pounds. A powerful depiction of Christ’s self-giving love, the intensity and focus of His earthly mission (Luke 4:18ff.), and its incredible impact on blessing and healing others. Profound film.
2. Gran Torino. This one was rough for my tastes until the end. It dramatically presents the sacrificial love of Jesus for those outside the fold (the Gentiles), and His inimitable and unexpected wisdom in displaying that love (1 Cor. 2:7-8). Gripping ending.
3. The Matrix. The first in the series contains all sorts of spiritual parallels.
4. The Edge. Anthony Hopkins depicts the wisdom of Christ, and His undying love for His enemies, particularly those who would seek to kill Him. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” His character is worthy of high admiration.
5. The Notebook. In From Eternity to Here, I discuss the spiritual parallels I see in this film to our “first love” to Christ and His relentless, undying love for us.
6. The Bucket List. Morgan Freeman portrays the Lord’s quiet suffering without complaint, the grace and humility that brokenness and heartache bring, and the elegant yet unspoken impact this has on the hardest of hearts.
7. Groundhog Day. A comedy illustrating three key and progressive points: 1) The depravity of humans and the vanity of heathenism (living for one’s own pleasure and lust), 2) the unspeakable despair that heathenism eventually leads to, and 3) an awakening to give oneself to others as the earmark of being human. (Obviously, as Christians we know that mere altruism doesn’t lead to life. Only Christ does. But receiving the Jesus and His life will lead us to love others, and in this our joy is made full.)
What films have you watched wherein you saw your Lord?