March 5, 2020

Faith doesn’t mean blind belief without any evidence. Rather, faith means particular past experiences influence future expectations. Faith means trust, and trust implies trustworthiness. The Heavenly Father earns and establishes our faith with His history of gracious overtures. Indeed, He has left evidences everywhere of His affection for humankind. As Romans 1:20 proclaims, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” And Psalm 19:1a, 2a, and 4a  affirms, “The heavens declare the glory of God … Day to day pours out speech … Their voice goes out through all the earth.” Our Lord and God has put His fingerprints and footprints in time and space, most especially by the incarnation of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

His shadow and His signature fall also upon history and story.  Any good story only gets its goodness from echoing and reflecting the great story of sin and salvation. Maybe a specific story doesn’t explicitly feature God or the Gospel, but its themes, characters, and plotlines parallel those of fall and forgiveness, iniquity and atonement, redemption and restoration. Using narrative to teach eternal truths didn’t originate with Jesus, but He did give parables a special place in communicating Christian grace and faith. So movies make a great way to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life. Here are a couple recommendations for experiencing life’s sanctity with family or neighbors. What would you add to this list?

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946, PG): George Bailey’s life gets repeatedly interrupted by other people’s needs. He feels like a failure for never achieving his dreams. When he concludes everybody would be better off if he’d never been born, an unexpected intruder dramatically demonstrates how all human lives are inextricably intertwined.

  2. Horton Hears a Who (2008, G): A Seussian elephant upsets the social order when he discovers a world of microscopic people living invisibly within a single flower. Though he risks losing everything by trying to help his skeptical friends hear the miracle, nothing takes away his cheerful enthusiasm that “a person’s a person, no matter how small!”

  3. The Drop Box (2015, PG): South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak has a heart for children with disabilities. He and his wife build a baby-sized compartment into the wall of their home where unwilling parents can anonymously deposit impaired little ones to be cared for rather than abandoned to the streets. This documentary captures how much—believe it or not!—compassion and happiness enter the pastor’s home and family through that small opening.

  4. Awakenings (1990, PG-13): Dr. Sayers works with patients in a mental institution who are mostly unresponsive. Though the facility’s staff has become somewhat callous, Dr. Sayers remains caring and persistent. His research leads him to a miraculous medication that restores many of the residents to full consciousness and ability, but it soon manifests sinister side effects. Along the way, everyone involved learns that the worth of humanity can’t be limited to their physical or intellectual abilities.

  5. October Baby (2011, PG-13): A series of medical mishaps sends teenager Hannah delving into her past for answers. The secrets she discovers—including an abortion—leave her feeling utterly unwanted. Little does she know that faith and the love of family will follow her into her grief until reconciliation brings healing.

  6. Bella (2006, PG-13): Waitress Nina gets fired for arriving late to work. Chef Jose becomes concerned and follows her outside. As he walks and listens, she shares her anxiety about being unexpectedly pregnant, unemployed, and alone. She intends to abort, and he accompanies her to the clinic. Can his generosity and tenderness persuade her toward adoption? Will her needs raise him above his tragic past? Is there anything that the delightfulness of family can’t heal?

  7. Arrival (2016, PG-13): Alien spacecraft descend around the world, and the American government enlists Louise, a linguist, and Ian, a physicist, to investigate. Their optimism contrasts with the skepticism of everyone else and enables them to decipher a powerful technology. Louise and Ian learn that even supernatural forces cannot achieve beauty apart from suffering, but that fleeing from grief also means losing goodness.

  8. Juno (2007, PG-13): Casual sex results in flippant sixteen-year-old Juno becoming pregnant. Though abortion seems the obvious answer, she finds her experience of the clinic distasteful and begins pursuing adoption. But even that arrangement begins to unravel, and it will take the love of her family, the support of her child’s father, a sense of humility, and a lot of humor to keep the situation from turning catastrophic for everybody.

  9. The Nativity Story (2006, PG): This faithful dramatization presents the experiences of Mary and Joseph as they face her unplanned pregnancy. Though they encounter many more dangers and inconveniences than most, they receive parenthood as a holy calling. Herod’s attempts to use death as a solution also wreak more havoc, but through it all the miracle of new life is worth it.