How God Speaks Through Film
One of the most popular films of all time is the science fiction classic The Matrix. The film is not overtly Christian, yet many people (believers and non-believers alike) have found buried in it illustrations that speak of God and His kingdom.
The film depicts a dark future world where reality, as it is perceived by most humans, is a simulated world known as “the Matrix.” The Matrix is a cyber-world created by intelligent machines who subdue humans so they can convert their body heat to electrical energy to use them as a power source. Laurence Fishburne plays Morpheus, a prophet who is alerted to the advent of a savior whose destiny is to free the world from the bondage of the Matrix. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a computer programmer who learns the truth about the Matrix and is drawn into a bizarre series of events that bring about the defeat of the film’s cyber-villains.
Morpheus and Neo are cast in roles so reminiscent of John the Baptist and Jesus that when I first saw the film, (before I was a Christian) I recognized the connection between them and their biblical counterparts. The portrayal of the battle between good and evil began to soften my naturalistic way of thinking. I wonder to this day how much influence it had on me on a subconscious level, as a little more than a year after seeing the film, I became a Christian.
The Matrix was well-received by critics, winning four Academy Awards, including awards for visual effects and cinematography. Like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Matrix was a success because it was well-executed. It did exactly what films are supposed to do. And it moved viewers to consider biblical realities because it had hidden spiritual themes they couldn’t help but notice. While The Matrix doesn’t have a message as tangibly spiritual as films like Heaven is for Real, or The Passion of the Christ, because of its broad appeal, it has the potential to impact more people than any Christian film ever made.
A couple of years ago I took a new paramedic job. Shortly after I was hired, I had a dream where I was given a pass by my employer that granted me free access to movie theaters. All I had to do was show the pass at the door and I’d be allowed into a theater without paying. The pass was a benefit of working for my new employer. In the dream, my coworkers and I were being taught how to use this benefit without abusing it.
Around the same time I had the dream, my EMT partner and I were having a slow shift and we were hanging out with another crew at a shopping mall. One of the EMTs got the bright idea to go into the theater and ask if we could watch a movie on duty. He returned and told us we could go in for free. American Sniper happened to be playing, so we went inside and took a seat.
Although American Sniper is filled with profanity, killing and other things which Christians might find objectionable, as I watched the film, God brought to mind one dream after another He had given me over the previous eight years. The dreams depicted military themes. Many of them I had never fully understood. Over the next month, the Holy Spirit connected scenes from the film to the dreams and I began seeing spiritual principles emerge. There are many parallels between the actions of Navy SEALS and the warfare believers wage against the kingdom of darkness. I wrote the book American Sniper based on what I’d learned from the film.
The Christian film industry has zealous men and women who are eager to spread the gospel, but who lack the kind of skill, budgets and imagination necessary to produce high-quality films. Instead, they often end up producing celluloid sermons that only appeal to Christians. The result is that the church ends up evangelizing itself. Before a film can teach the world anything about God, it must first be what films are meant to be: well-written and well-acted stories that enlighten, engage, reveal beauty, entertain, and capture our imaginations. When film-makers fail to do this, the result is Christian art that puts the world to sleep. But if they make films the way they’re intended to be made, society can be transformed by them.
How God Speaks Through Art
This is an excerpt from my book Hearing God’s Voice Made Simple. Click on the link or on the image below. to learn more.
David Lynch’s Dune, Superman 1 with Christopher Reeve, and of course Star Wars and Star Trek are a few other good ones with spiritual undertones. A couple of novels include 1984 and Ender’s Game.
I don’t see much of a message on movies, but there was one Rambo movie (I think last one) where he’s in a jungle in Vietnam I think. I saw clearly how many Christians go to spiritual battle without the help of Holy Spirit. You gotta see the movie to get it
From the script:
MORPHEUS: We are trained in this world to accept only what is rational and logical. Have you ever wondered why?
NEO shakes his head.
MORPHEUS: As children, we do not separate the possible from the impossible which is why the younger a mind is, the easier it is to free while a mind like yours can be very difficult.
I credit Star Wars for bringing me to a place where I accepted Christ. The undertones, the disbelief then blatant demonstration that would change jaded Han and wide eyed Luke. Interesting how the scene around the board table in the death star can replay itself. The general who’s faith is in technology (the death star) “… Your sad devotion to that ancient religion (no longer relevant) has not helped you to conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels hidden… Sounds of choking…” Vader:”I find your lack of faith disturbing.” As a young teenager I found myself in a situation surrounded by a biker gang who’s attention was on our small group of Christians. They overtly were trying to intimidate us and we’re in a drunken rage. We prayed and almost immediately the situation changed. We even ended up with a willing audience for skit night. Maybe you had to be there, but in my young eyes, this was a very significant demonstration of his protection. Why, the Lord revealed to me recently, when I was young I had a cousin babysitting me. Unknown to my parents she invited her boyfriend over and they started drinking. Long story short the drunken boyfriend broke a lot of things in the house, ended up ordering my sister around while holding a knife to my neck. Something I have been told about but have no recollection of the event. This cousin never babysat us again for obvious reasons.
I had a major breakthrough and it related to Neo and the scene where he realized who he was, he went into his true identity and reality and he stopped the bullets (grabbed them etc). I LOVE the expression about Christian movies evangelizing the church lol, that is SO true! I love the art of cinematography and refuse to keep myself “separate” from the “world” worrying it will drag me into darkness, like Neo I now have my reality and identity in place I am here to bring light, it works best in dark places!
Thank you for bringing this up! After listening to several profits, I was drawn to many war movies. Thought this whole thing was in my mind. Well now, pretty sure this is about spiritual war fare! I’m a disabled 66 yr old Granny ?! Ya gotta LOVE God and His sense of humor!!!!!
Sorry to say, but I hate Christian films. I hate being preached to and emotionally manipulated.
I also find the matrix to be one of the most revelationary films I have ever seen.
More than agree, I ever thought the Matrix it will help to understand how the demons work on unbelievable human being without understanding that there is a spiritual warfare about good and evil. Thanks for share and pointed out about this film.
The Matrix hides a dark truth, but when the Lord took me into the spirit one night, I was horrified to discover that demons actually take human beings into their own worlds at night. We call them dreams. In those demonic environments, humans are programmed with demonic pollution and depression, the sludge of filth and oppression. The Matrix is only a mirror of the real truth which happens hundreds of millions of time every night. It is important that the Christian community wake up to this hidden secret of satan’s kingdom and begin to break free from this dark demonic control and make connection to the kingdom of light. This is the main reason why Matrix is so popular, as people’s spirits know intuitively that some secret is being shown them.
If you got that much out of American Sniper, I hope you have also watched Act of Valor. The first scene demonstrates how members of the Body should be able to function together like a Navy Seal team.
I’ve recently enjoyed Arrival and Doctor Strange which both have spiritual messages God can use. God can speak through anything.
Years ago I Bob Jones was at a church I attended at the time. He said, “Hollywood is more prophetic than the church.” I see it so oftern.
This was so cool!! One movie that gets me so caught up is Lord of the Rings trilogies! Thanks so much for sharing this! Awesome!!
I highly recommend To End All Wars and Dr Strange
Two movies I I seen recenly that felt God spoke to me are “Arrival” & “Interstellar”. I felt as I walked out of theater I wanted to have a round table on the movie. There was so much more to these movies. But as I heard others who had seen the same movie describe them as total wast of time. I just wink to heaven heaven and thank Him.