There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Winter is here!!!!…
Well actually it arrived on April 14, at least for those of us who are ardent supporters of HBO’s Game of Thrones. I also faithfully followed ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder; and of course finished the final season of Netflix’s House of Cards (was I the only one who binge-watched every season as soon as it dropped?) There is The Passage and Shadowhunters on Monday, The Gifted on Tuesdays, Deadly Class on Wednesdays, For the People on Thursdays, and Madam Secretary every Sunday, to name just a few shows I watch.
Clearly at this point you are realizing that watching television is not only a method of relaxation for me, but also borders on obsession. I don’t have a favorite show, I have many at the same time, per season. I lead a busy life, so I DVR what I can’t watch instantly and play catch-up as soon as I can. This enthusiasm is not confined to television, but also movies, plays, and Broadway shows. As a writer, I am always fascinated in the ability of producers and actors to bring life to a great storyline. As a human, I guess I just love good entertainment.
I know some Christians would be appalled at the content of a few of the shows that I just mentioned above. I realize they don’t all reflect the Philippians 4:8 principle of being “pure, lovely, just, and virtuous” (as the KJV puts it). However, I appreciate the way these shows reflect an aspect of life, or at least one’s perspective on life. Should the violence, scandalous depictions, or profane language bother me? I’m not sure.
Yet I know that I love every aspect of the Bible. I’m blessed by the fact that it is the inspired Word of God. I’m equally aware that it is one of the most scandalous writings out there. The Bible depicts life as it was, not as we want it to be, and then tells of a redemptive ending to those who will submit to Christ. Frown as we might at President Fitz and Olivia Pope’s affair, David and Bathsheba beat them to the punch. Peter’s words weren’t “Oh, heavens no” when he denied Christ, they were choice Aramaic words that would probably result in most kids receiving the “rod of correction.” Filmmakers and movie producers have a unique ability to broadcast their view and their authentic experiences, and for some Christians this is ministry.
While I’m a fan of Shonda Rhimes, Denzel Washington, Al Pacino, and Quentin Tarantino, voices are missing. There is an expression of life and experience that can only come from Kingdom-minded filmmakers, actors, and producers; currently these voices and narratives aren’t as widely reflected as they could be. Some Christians were disappointed at how Noah was depicted in the 2019 movie, but how many churches overtly and strategically support the cultivation of filmmakers and actors who are believers? There are some Christians who are called as trailblazers in the film industry. They have a platform and a Kingdom message to share, and it will not always be a comfortable and neatly packaged depiction aimed at the Christian. I don’t profess to have the answer regarding how far is too far or what is or isn’t acceptable in a storyline, What I do know is that these questions were meant to be wrestled with, and there are people sitting in church pews with brilliant life narratives waiting to be expressed.
When Moses wrestled with his calling, he doubts that the people he was called to deliver would accept the authenticity of his assignment. God answers his hesitance by asking the exiled leader, “What is that in thine hand?” (Exodus 4:2, KJV). For Moses it was a rod. You may look down and see a camera, a script, costumes, or an ability to embody any character profile you are given. These things are your tools for ministry, and the realm of Arts & Entertainment is your pulpit. What you do matters to the Kingdom, and ultimately it matters to God. As great as she is, Shonda Rhimes can only depict life from a limited scope. Your task is to tell whatever narrative(s) God has given you.
These stories include happiness, heartache, disappointments, afflictions, shameful mistakes, and the ultimate victory of the reality of life in Christ. Your assignments may be unconventional and may even stir the hornets’ nest of religious folk, but you won’t find peace until you unapologetically embrace God’s assignment for you. My advice: be who God called you to be, not who we would prefer you to be.
God, today I lift up those who are called to the realm of Arts & Entertainment. Thank you for the creativity and inspiration that you have endowed them with. Give them courage to steward wisely over your gift in them. And teach us, your body, how to be receptive to your revelations through them. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.