Working in the Hollywood media and entertainment industry is challenging for Christians.
We're often thrown into a "one category" Christian pile. We're one of them.
Over the past few years, our company, Cooke Pictures, has had the opportunity to work on some great documentaries and media projects that required research on great men of faith who lived through challenging cultures and difficult times—William Wilberforce, William Tyndale and Martin Luther, to name a few. Currently, we're working with the Museum of the Bible, scheduled to open in November 2017. The opening of the museum coordinates with the date, 500 years ago, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the doors of the church and is noted to have started what is now known as "the Reformation" of the Catholic Church.
Is it time for a new cultural reformation? Is it time for reformation that would rebrand Christians for what we are for and not against? Is it time for the judging, labeling, categorizing and segregating to end and for the God that lives with us—the Spirit of God inside us as believers to be seen and not our individual selves and agendas? I've noticed that it's possible to draw some parallels between the current cultural climate I see happening in Hollywood and in America and the Reformation of Luther's day.
Here's what Luther did that we might work on:
Luther used intelligence.
Luther was educated and was an intelligent priest. He studied law and was well read in the books and manuscripts of the period. He spent hours studying the Bible, praying and fasting, and I can't help but think that was the first key to his success—and ours as well. The Bible says to "Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). That's why we need to understand the "signs of the times"—read trade magazines, newspapers and the latest books as well as study television, movies and the internet. We live in an information age, but that doesn't mean all information is good and beneficial. In today's culture, we need to use our brains. We need to rely on intelligent, trusted authorities to go to and to speak for us. This is the goal that The Influence Lab (influencelab.com) has set out to do. In a sound bite, social media, instant picture culture, who gets the microphone needs to be controlled by the intelligent if we're going to change the perception of Christianity.
Luther invested his life.
When you study Luther, Tyndale and many of the reformers of their day, you realize they were so passionate they were willing to risk their lives for a cause that would change the world. Today, we need to develop that same passion, because without it, no one will pay attention. Throwing money into multiple pockets is great for spreading it around to where it's needed for some arguably great causes and needs, but it also keeps us from pooling resources into one voice of reason and authority. How many sex-trafficking ministries and do we really need? How many child sponsorship sites or food banks? What if some of them started joining together? Would they be more effective in breaking through the multitude of media charities and become a force for real change? What if we started having one voice from the Christian community for sex-trafficking, one voice for child adoptions and foster care, one voice for assisting the homeless when the media went looking for a sound bite?
Luther had protectors, influencers, people who were in authoritative positions to back him up.
Martin Luther and William Tyndale found support for their vision. If it weren't for the protection of a prince, Luther would have been stopped right from the start. But he knew how the system worked. He found support that helped him with money, protection, food and shelter. If Luther hadn't had a protector, the Reformation would probably have never happened. Many organizations, GLADD, ACLU and Scientology, today have done this. They've united under one banner—one voice and not only pooled their resources but their influence. Let's pool our resources and have a voice of influence in culture before it's drowned out by an ocean of small voices. Small voices may be meaningful and heartfelt but they don't make big waves.
Finally, Luther guarded his attitude and emotions.
With anything passionate, we will also be vulnerable to rejection and disappointment—demons of our culture. We need to be on guard, and the best way to combat the enemy is to be on our knees daily. The Bible says to pray without ceasing, and I cannot emphasize this enough. When we think about the great spiritual leaders of the past—like William Tyndale, who gave his life so we could read the Bible in our own language, you realize that they understood how important spiritual discipline is for the common man.
Jesus was so passionate in his love for us He gave His life so that we could experience an eternal one. When we experience rejection from the culture, remember Winston Churchill, who said, "Never give up; never, never, never give up." A rejection may be God's way of refining us. We're called to a higher calling, to walk in faith and the hope of our eternal reward in heaven.
So never stop learning and being a passionate believer, stay surrounded with serious "cheerleaders" and be ever watchful for pitfalls knowing that the Lord is ever present and loves us with an unconditional love.
Martin Luther and William Tyndale were revolutionaries of their day. In the same way, let's be the cultural revolutionaries of our time! Let's be reformers of today.
Kathleen Cooke is a founding partner and vice president of Cooke Pictures (cookepictures.com) and the Influence Lab (influencelab.com). She speaks globally and is editor of the monthly journal Influence Women (influencelab.com/women) and her weekly blog, kathleencooke.com. Follow her on Twitter @KathleenRCooke or Instagram and FB: KathleenRCooke.
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