“A Light in the Darkness” is Just That
After I had picked up a copy of the DVD, but before watching it, I read this plug for God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness by Charisma publisher Stephen Strang.
Having written for the magazine for more than two decades, and having met Strang on a couple occasions, his favorable comments whetted my appetite for watching the movie.
Afterwards, I was quite pleased that Strang’s remarks proved to be on target. It was indeed the best of the three films in the series.
The God’s Not Dead franchise got off to a rousing start when the original move grossed $60 million-plus at the box office on a $2 million production budget.
To say Hollywood was shocked would be an understatement. Even though, a decade earlier, Passion of the Christ grossed more than $370 million and made Mel Gibson look like a genius.
Pleasure to Watch
However, God’s Not Dead 2 only did a third of the original at the box office. A friend criticized it as a “preaching to the choir” kind of film.
Once I saw it, I couldn’t disagree with him. Although I may have enjoyed it, I doubt that the sequel changed many minds.
That’s why Light in the Darkness was such a pleasure to watch, for several reasons:
- The intrinsic human drama, including the problems with unresolved anger and other personal issues of the pastor who has a lead role.
Then there is the conflict between this pastor and his older brother, an attorney and agnostic who defends him during legal proceedings.
- It delves honestly into objections non-believers have about church.
One is portrayed by the attorney, who complains bitterly about being treated like an outcast in his youth for raising questions about the validity of faith and the Bible. This failure to deal with objections to traditional outlooks is behind many young people turning away from church when they get old enough to do more than parrot their upbringing. That’s according to several apologists I have interviewed for magazine features.
Another example is the supporting actor who portrays a young man. His objection to church becomes clear near the end when he tells his girlfriend what happened to sour him on faith. When his mother divorced his father for beating her, the church labeling her a “sinner.” That resulted in her crying herself to sleep at night.
Given such tragedies, we can’t ignore the failures of churches these days. It’s not just the scandals in Catholic circles, either. Both secular and Christian publications have chronicled problems with sexual abuse and abuse of power in Protestant circles.
However, the movie’s most powerful message comes near the end. It portrays the pastor acting like—well, a Christian—instead of the “We’re persecuted and we don’t like it one bit” theme that shone through to that point.
His call for the opposing sides who had massed in front of the church building to put down their signs serves as a powerful reminder. Namely, that we aren’t going to win the world with political slogans or screaming louder than our opponents.
Now, I realize there is a touch of a happy-ending-and-can’t-we-all-get-along? quality at work here. Still, from inspiration can come perspiration, the kind it takes to demonstrate God’s love to the world.
We need to put down our signs and political posturing, turn our snarls into smiles, and act like the body of Christ.