I have been greatly encouraged to see how much of an impact faith-based movies have had on our culture. For a long time, all we could do as Christians was complain about Hollywood, and the moral depravity of the movie industry. But in the last decade, some Christian film makers decided enough was enough, and began to produce movies that inspire the soul, and point people to Christ. Essentially, instead of condemning American culture, they made up their minds to combat it, to invade an entire industry with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
First there were the movies produced by the Kendrick brothers (Alex and Stephen), as a ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia. Think of it--a local church making movies as a ministry! Kirk Cameron (now at Liberty University) starred in some of these. Facing the Giants (2006), Fireproof (2008), Courageous (2011), and War Room (2015) are movies that inspired millions of Christians, and dealt with themes like marriage, parenting, and prayer. When I was a pastor, I would assign watching "Fireproof" to couples with marriage problems, and ask them to do the 40 days of kindness as portrayed in the movie.
Then Mel Gibson produced the famous movie "Passion of the Christ" (2004) which depicted Jesus' horrible suffering on the cross. Today is Good Friday, and every time I think now of the cross, I have a deeper appreciation of Christ's suffering having watched this movie. Jim Caveziel played Christ in this film, and will also star in the sequel which is now almost ready for the theaters. I have heard that the theme of this new one will be the Resurrection. "Passion of the Christ" turned the entire movie industry upside down, and opened the door to a host of other evangelical film companies. It grossed $370 at the box office, and is still the highest grossing R-Rated (because of the violence of the crucifixion scene) movie of all time.
More recently, my wife and I have seen God's Not Dead starring Kevin Sorbo, a movie about defending your faith as a Christian in the face of attacks by atheists. We also saw God's Not Dead #2 starring Melissa Joan Hart, about a schoolteacher who got fired for answering a student's question about believing in the Bible. The next one in this series: "God's Not Dead: Light in the Darkness", is just now starting to play in theaters. It is about a pastor and his response to those who burned down his church.
Last week we saw the movie "I Can Only Imagine", and I must say it is one of the most stirring Christian films I have ever seen. Based on a true story, this movie will inspire your heart, and make you appreciate the writing of the song. This one really edifies your Christian life.
And finally, we just saw "Paul: Apostle of Christ". It was a sobering reminder of the persecution of Christians in the first century under Nero, and it is hard to watch because of the scenes of persecution. Yet, you will be greatly challenged to be faithful, like the Apostle Paul, unto death. I think we are oblivious, sometimes, to the suffering and persecution Christians have endured throughout the centuries of church history, and even today in some parts of the world.
Yes, it is amazing how well these faith-based movies have done in the theaters, and see how good they are in both content and movie quality. I pray that movies like this will continue to impact our society for the Lord.