Once in a while I will venture into the low-budget productions in the “Christian movie industry.” Standing Firm is such a movie. The movie details the life of a father and a son after the death of their wife and mother. It takes us through the troubled story of David (Father), who after losing his wife becomes furious with God. In trying to work tirelessly to pay his bills, he becomes overwhelmed with life. In the midst of despair he finds God, and turns his life around.
The movie portrays his son (Steven) as the faithful Christian who tries desperately to aid his father. His tactics to introduce his father to Christ fail again and again. In the end, however, the power of prayer joined with the testimony of his son lead the father to Christ, and consequently back to the Church.
The deceased wife lived a fruitful Christian life serving the Church and her family. It takes her death for David to see that his wife had a living relationship with Christ. Looking back after conversion, he realized that everything had worked for his own good.
Stories like these are hard to swallow. They strike you with the hidden slogan “Jesus fixes everything.” The reality, however, is that he does not fix everything. A living union with Christ can actually make your life rather complicated. You may begin to risk your life more than before; you may lose friends, and arouse the fury of unbelievers.
The constant sloganizing coupled with the horrendous music offended my ears. This is precisely the type of Christianity that lacks power. It is evangelicalism boiled down to a sinner’s prayer. It misses the grand picture of God’s redeeming work.
At the same time, it is to be commended for revealing that the Christian faith does have ethical consequences in the workplace. Further, it also stresses the necessity of being in the community of faith. It is there that one’s faith is strengthened and most clearly lived out.
Unfortunately, the Church–the brief images of it in the movie–were replete with a miniature gospel proclamation giving the distinct impression that the movie had evangelism as its main purpose. Though there is nothing distinctly wrong with that intention it fails to provide a picture of the faith that is both intellectually sustainable and desirable. The question the movie kept raising was “Why won’t he just accept Christ?” It implied a form of easy-believism of the worst kind. The role of Jesus as Lord did not come in, but a compartmentalized version was central to the storyline.
One concludes that the complaint of David’s co-worker “that his parents had shoved religion down his throat, and therefore he was not interested in David’s new found faith,” is essentially embedded in the entire presentation. The movie felt like religion was being shoved down, and swallowing it was no easy task. It implied a programmatic model to Christianity that is rather harmful and not beneficial to non-Christians considering the claims of Christ.
I will continue to support these types of movies, because I believe in Christian art as a manifestation of God’s desire to restore culture. However, at the same time I find these attempts falling far short of the Gospel I love so dearly. There is a future for this industry, but it first needs a healthy theology in order to become acceptable. This is evangelicalism at its worst.