This was a first—seeing two quality Christian films playing at the theater in one week. You could have knocked me over with a kernel of popcorn when I saw the previews.
My husband and I first went to I Can Only Imagine, the true story of Bart Millard, lead singer of the Christian group, Mercy Me. The powerful story shows him growing up in an abusive home, revealing the terrible truth of how bad it was without being too explicit. We are left to understand that Bart was physically abused by Dad and that their relationship was toxic, filled with pain, and bitterness that prevailed in Bart, even though he was a Christian. It was not until he was forced to deal with his lack of forgiveness that Bart was able to write his break-out song, “I Can Only Imagine,” a multi-award-winning tune.
The song, “I Can Only Imagine” has personal meaning for my husband and me. It was played at our daughter Bethany’s memorial service in 2003. I know from numerous other stories that it has been played thousands of times in funerals everywhere. The song is that meaningful. Thank you, Bart Millard.
The second movie we saw was Paul, Apostle of Christ. It’s the story of the Apostle Luke as he visits Paul in prison in Rome and becomes a scribe for the book of Acts, the story of the early church. Words can’t adequately do justice to the powerful message in this film. Tears are brimming in my eyes as the movie plays over in my mind.
The commitment of the early church in the dark days of Rome when the evil Emporer Nero burns down much of the city, then torches Christians while they are still alive to light the streets of Rome, is unfathomable. Although the script is careful not to get overly gory, it is still horrifying. There were young children in the theater. Parents would be wise to preview the film before bringing them.
But to watch what true persecution was—and is in many places today—makes claims of persecution in the United States seem beyond ridiculous. The early church was truly persecuted in the worst possible ways. And in many countries, that persecution against Christianity continues. We must pray it does not get that bad in our country. Already Christians are being targeted in the courts for their faith.
But even if it were to get that horrible, is your faith up to the challenge? I pray that mine is. The words of Luke as he is temporarily in the group heading for the “Roman Circus” the next day are memorable: “Yes there will be pain. But it is only for a moment.” And then, they will be with Jesus in glorious eternity.
It is a hope for all Christians. And a reason to be in prayer.
Two movies whose stories are separated by centuries, yet the message that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever shines in them both.
Please see these movies if you can. And support quality Christian movies so that more will be made and the message of hope in Jesus be proclaimed.