There has been a definite improvement in Christian movies lately. They are better quality than ever before and they have integrated more of the current culture into their story line. I have heard numerous times from Christian authors that, rather than focusing on writing great Christian books, we should focus on writing great books written by Christians. The emphasis then becomes more about the artistic reality of a well told story than pushing a Christian agenda. And I definitely agree with that. Not because I don’t think that stories involving Christian characters can’t be every bit as interesting as a story told about an atheist or someone who simply hasn’t awoken to the realm of the supernatural reality of God, but because I suspect that God does a whole lot better job reaching us if we simply tell a story involving the truth – a slice of the reality we know best. In the honest reflection of our struggles, God leads us.
The other fear has been that Christian books and movies are simply speaking to the choir. Christian authors aren’t engaging the larger culture because no one but an interested Christian will pick up an obviously Christian book or pay money to see a Christian movie. But as I watched Heaven is for Real and God is not Dead, I reevaluated the worth of that easy dismissal. Frankly, Christians in this country, and around the world, have been under heavy fire, literally as well as figuratively, for a long time. In many environments to even mention your faith in Jesus Christ is to invite an embarrassing silence or a smirk…or death. The choir is battle weary, exhausted, and needs a little encouragement…perhaps a lot of encouragement. I think that is what Heaven is for Real and God is not Dead do. They offer some encouragement from Christians to Christians. Keep the faith. Don’t give up. You’re not crazy for believing and your are not alone.
When Pope John Paul II went to Poland, a strongly Catholic country which had been suffering under the oppression of Communism, John Paul II did something that unleashed an amazing chain of events. He reminded the Polish people of who they were. He rekindled their strength. He told them that they were not alone, and he encouraged them to be brave in their love of Jesus Christ. If you know anything about how history unfolded at that point – you know what effect that had on the entire world.
Today the world is facing so many trials and tribulations that it is hard to read through the headlines. But I believe that Christians have the answers to this age’s suffering as we have had the answer through all the years from Christ’s birth to today: It is the message that Christ, God Himself, gave us to pass on: God is not dead. God lives and He cares for us. Heaven is for real and we do have a future in which to place all our hopes. We are not alone. If the highest goal of art is to draw souls toward our best selves, Christian fiction might well lead the way.