“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6
I love stories. In the morning I read the Bible and serious devotionals, but at night before bed, I’m usually reading or sometimes watching a story that inspires me to love righteousness.
A story is a powerful tool (Jesus used them all the time) for good or for evil, so I try to be careful. I have found that some books, shows, and movies actually mock righteousness and empower wickedness; and leave me sad, confused, or even despairing if I embraced their message. I sometimes lament having wasted time on such stories and always promise to use more discernment in the future.
A few years ago I gave an illustration from The Horse Whisperer and said it was a good movie and a horrible book. What did I mean by that?
In the book, a woman and the man who healed her horse are drawn to each other, have an affair, and she ends up leaving her husband and her daughter because she has found “true love.” The message: Humans are flawed and messy and certainly not to be blamed if their “heart” leads them to break their wedding vows. Horrible.
In the movie, the woman and the man who healed her horse are also drawn to each other and are tempted to be adulterous. Yet they resist the temptation, and in the end she returns to her husband and daughter. We empathize with flawed, emotional human beings, because we relate to them, and then we celebrate when they do what’s right in spite of their flaws. It strengthens us and feeds our hunger for righteousness. We too are flawed but we can still do what is right!
I stop reading a book or watching a show when I have no one to cheer for (hopefully sooner rather than later!). I expect people to be flawed because I can’t relate to a perfect character. However, I like someone who is trying to do what is right. Someone who is rising above their own comfort, sorrow, or selfish desires to courageously do what is right. Just because something appeals to our love of humor, action, or mystery doesn’t make it “good” art. Art that we participate in should inspire our love for righteousness and our hatred for wickedness, not dampen it.