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Jesus Revolution: The New Standard for Christian Movies

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Author: Jordan G Estabrook

I’m about as Christian as they come, but I’ll say something some Christians might be too polite to say or make them feel as though they’re betraying their faith:

I hate Christian movies.

I’d rather do 300 burpees than watch one. They’re cheesy, poorly acted and the dialogue feels more like a sermon. It’s painful. More painful than 300 burpees.

Recently though, I was urged by a few people to go see “Jesus Revolution,” a movie based on the real story of the 1970s spiritual awakening in the United States of America. It follows Greg Laurie, who’s seeking truth through psychedelics and other means of revelation. Laurie meets a charismatic street preacher, Lonnie Frisbee and a pastor, Chuck Smith, who join together to open the doors to a church that attracts lost youth. It becomes a counterculture movement that becomes the greatest spiritual awakening in American history.

I found myself deeply thinking, tearing up at points and giving a good chuckle or two. Here’s what I liked.

The characters were real Christians who made real mistakes

Yes, the characters represent real people, but I’m talking about how the writers chose to portray them in this film, that is as Christians who were saved by Jesus, but still flawed, sinful and struggling.

Lonnie became prideful during the movement. Chuck became concerned about public image. Laurie struggled with abandonment with Cathe and also neglected his mother after he became a Christian.

Not very Christian. But that’s the point. Just because one gives themself to Christ doesn’t mean all their troubles and sins go away. There’s sanctification and change that happens afterwards.

The movie didn’t end when Laurie got baptized - that’s when it really began. For many who chose to follow Christ, that’s how it begins as well. There’s growth and pruning. There are ugly moments. There’s striving. There’s failing. “Jesus Revolution” did Christianity a favor and accurately depicted what struggles take place afterwards. It didn’t end at “Happily Ever After.” C.S Lewis in Mere Christianity says it well:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

“Jesus Revolution” shows how God built the palace.

It didn’t back away from showing reality

Many Christian movies are scared to actually depict any sort of sin on screen because they have to keep the rating at G or PG. This movie, however, was willing to show the dark reality of drugs in a tasteful, but impactful manner.

It felt real. It didn’t feel like someone put the kid gloves on and sugarcoated it. It gave us just enough impact.

Acting, cinematography and writing were good

The acting was on point, unlike some films where it’s so noticeably bad that it takes you out of the movie. The cinematography was on parr with any other secular movie. The writing was fairly good in terms of dialogue and did an excellent job merging the two main stories of Laurie and Chuck.

Christian filmmakers should take note

I’d give “Jesus Revolution” a solid 7.5/10. This film should be a lesson to other Christian filmmakers that you don’t need to preach. Let the characters speak for themselves. Let them be raw. Let them make mistakes. Show the truth, not just a facade of what you think Christianity should look like.

It did help that this movie is based on a true story, but the writers took it upon themselves to stay true to the story and not fit it into their box. It paid off, overperforming at the box office at 15.5 million dollars its first week.

Maybe “Jesus Revolution” will start a revolution of better Christian movies.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of Resident Skeptics.

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