Films with Christian themes have enjoyed box office success in recent years, but here are four great secular movies that I believe every Christian should see.
Sergeant York starred Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, and Joan Leslie, and is considered to be a Hollywood Classic. I realize it’s a very old movie and it’s in black and white, but the morals and values it depicts don’t change. What makes this movie so great is that it’s a true story about a young man who, because of his belief in the Bible, didn’t want to go to war to kill anyone. He thought that since the Bible was against killing that he should be against killing. The draft board didn’t recognize his church as a mainstream denomination, which would have allowed him to be a conscientious objector. Instead, he was forced to go to war against his will but when the time came, Sergeant Alvin York proved to be a hero. He saved many men’s lives at the risk of losing his own, and became one of the most decorated veterans in U.S. history.
Chariots of Fire
This inspiring movie is about a young Scottish runner would rather put obedience to God above his certain chances of winning an Olympic gold medal. This true story revolves around Harold Abrahams, an English Jew and student at Cambridge. His dream is to prove to the anti-Semitic students at Cambridge that Jews are not inferior to other people, and in doing so, he ends up proving it to the world. When he refuses to run on Sunday because of his faith, it appears that his gold medal hopes are over, but then he’s given another opportunity for which he hasn’t trained. What follows is truly inspiring because he gives the glory to God.
Ben-Hur, starring Charleston Heston, is set in the time of Christ. A young Jewish prince named Judah Ben-Hur bristles under the heavy-handed iron fist of Rome. He and his family are disposed from their home due to a freak accident in which a Roman governor was thought to be threatened. Ben-Hur ends up as a galley slave in the Roman fleet until his ship sinks. When he sees the commander’s life being threatened he intervenes to save him from drowning in the ocean. At first he is antagonistic about this “Jesus” and His teachings to “love our enemies,” but in time, Judah’s heart is softened by a miracle where his mother and sister are healed from leprosy.
The Hiding Place
The Hiding Place is a true story about Corrie ten Boom. Her family’s lives are disrupted by the Nazi regime during World War II in Holland, and since they are suspected of hiding Jews they are sent to a concentration camp. It is only their Christian faith that keeps them from despair and bitterness. After the war is over, Carrie must learn to forgive her captors and tormentors. It’s a great lesson of the unconditional love of God through forgiveness that isn’t deserved.
These are films that the whole family can watch and that have life-changing lessons in them. For Sergeant York, it was trust God. For Harold Abrahams, it was obey God at all costs. For Ben-Hur it was to believe in Jesus Christ. For Corrie it was about forgiveness. The Christmas holidays would be a perfect time to rent one or all of these classic films and savor their timeless messages.