"Narnia cruises to No. 1 debut with modest $24.5M" declared the banner headline in today's Johnson City Press. While it was number one at the box office this weekend, the figures are less than glowing; in fact they pale in comparison to "Narnia 1's" opening take of $65.6 million and "Narnia 2's" opening which did $55 million. Without delving into the mysteries of Hollywood and the movie industry, I was immediately brought back to some headlines I had read just a few weeks ago. After looking up the details on-line, I can tell you that....
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 set all-time opening for the franchise with over $125 million," reported Box Office Mojo. Further checking revealed that this Harry Potter release has grossed over $777 million world-wide in its first 3-1/2 weeks. Why would I care about that? I can guarantee you that I not looking to become Roger Ebert's new partner in the movie ratings business. No, there really is a Scriptural connection to these two recent Hollywood blockbusters.
Through the Third Lens of Scripture: In this morning's reading from Our Daily Bread The lesson was drawn from 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 and from the Zebras and Wildebeests of the Serengeti Plain. From the animals we learn that the Zebras and the Wildebeests travel and migrate together because the Zebras have keen eyesight and a poor sense of smell, while the Wildebeests are just the opposite. By traveling together, they are both less vulnerable to predators. From the Scriptures we learn. "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12). "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!'" (1 Corinthians 12;21). So while I may come across as a strong exhorter, I understand that God has placed such people in the body of Christ for a reason. While my strong suit may not be mercy, God has placed others in the body who excel in dispensing mercy (see Romans 12:8).
That leads to today's exhortation, which connects back to the opening remarks about two movies and their respective draws at the box office. Both of these movies are filled with fantasy, greatly enlarged by the silver screen. Both depict competing forces which might be labeled as "good and evil" or "light and dark." However, the Harry Potter movie, in fact the entire Harry Potter series, is much more dark than light; much more evil than good. The good displayed in these movies is more of the human variety, and the Scriptures declare, concerning this subject: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..." (Isaiah 64:6a). On the other hand, the Narnia movies reveal a different kind of good; a good that is redemptive and that comes from outside of humanity. In these movies, the Lion Aslan is seen as a type of Christ.
So what do we have here? We have a movie which is heavy into magic, both black and white, with little redeeming value grossing 5-6 times as much as a similar movie which, although fantasy, portrays biblical truth in an entertaining format. I would venture to say that 5-6 more children have seen Harry Potter as have seen Narnia 3. And the Scriptures declare: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6). I would challenge those parents who think that there is no difference between the two movies to think again. Some of the most dangerous thoughts we can entertain are, "It doesn't mean anything. It's only for fun. It's just an act. It's just entertainment." This applies to music, TV, movies, concerts, etc. Remember, a little bite of a piece of fruit got us all in one big jam.
Yesterday our pastor brought a message entitled, ""Bring the Children" (Developing a Faithful Generation). It was probably the best exposition of Matthew 19:13-15 I have ever heard. That passage reads: "Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. When He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there."
I could never hope to do justice to Pastor Hilton's message, but allow me to recap the three main points to his message: 1) Bring the children to Jesus. I dare say that there is a lot more Jesus in the Narnia movie than in the Harry Potter movie. Children must be brought to Jesus, so that in a spiritual sense they might feel His touch. 2) Do not keep children from Jesus. It's one thing to bring them to Jesus, it's another thing to not keep them from Him. Often we adults get in the way by failing to prioritize children, or by being ignorant of their value (this begins at conception). We train by example as well as by instruction. 3) God works generationally. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Someone once said that Christianity is only one generation away from extinction. It is up to us to raise up the next generation in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
So, let's be good role models to the children. Let's bring them to Jesus, which includes church at the top of the list, but also includes pointing out Jesus in every area of life. It means always being on the lookout for the answer to W.W.J.D.? (What would Jesus do?) As we develop a faithful generation, God has promised great blessing on them. "Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever." (Psalm 112:1-3).
Be encouraged in Christ!